Share The Force With This Star Wars Gift Guide!George Lucas’s 11 Worst Decisions Rogue One: As Star Wars Story tells the tale of Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), who was separated from her father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) at a young age. Recruited by a young Rebel Alliance, Jyn is tasked with seeking out a Rebel leader from her past to hear an important message sent from her father to outsider Rebel figure Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). She’s sent with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) a Rebel agent and his reprogrammed droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) to the once-holy city of Jedha to see if she can find Saw and retrieve the message from a defecting Imperial pilot. Also around is a new villain – Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) – who’s aspirations to hold higher office in the Empire’s political structure lead him to develop the power source for the Death Star. Krennic has a distinct white uniform and towering black “Death Troopers” but his menace is mostly kept to political maneuvering after he realizes he had a defector in his midst.The story itself is a war film, which starkly draws a contrast between it and the so-called “Saga” movies (the numbered episodes pertaining to a Skywalker). This isn’t about Rogue Squadron, the legacy property; it’s about a new group of characters that get to be lovable and interesting for a single film. Your milage may vary on how these characters contribute to the greater Star Wars universe, but as a film, Rogue One is an exciting narrative of a group of people coming together to execute a single goal.One of the things that make Rogue One: A Star Wars Story unique is how much it references and re-establishes aspects from both the new-canon of Star Wars and the old Expanded Universe. There are a lot of Easter Eggs hidden in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Gareth Edwards, like J.J. Abrams before him, is a Star Wars fan. We’re now living in an era where someone besides George Lucas is allowed to make a Star Wars movie. However, we lost some stuff getting here, like the Expanded Universe. Old Star Wars video games, novels, comics, cartoons and role playing games all became “Legends” content while Disney started the Star Wars canon with just the movies and the Clone Wars animated series. Since certain Legends content has been refreshed back into the Star Wars universe, just interpreted for the new-canon; surprisingly Rogue One has some of those too!Ultimately, a person’s enjoyment of Rogue One is dependent on a degree of Star Wars fandom, especially early on in the story when the characters are being established for the first time: do references to A New Hope (and a couple of characters from the Star Wars prequels) make you giggle with joy? Rogue One delivers there. Despite being the first stand-alone or “anthology film” in the Star Wars Universe, it throws out connections and references to so much existing Star Wars material that it’s hard to imagine an action movie fan being happy with just watching Rogue One. You have to watch the movie, then watch A New Hope immediately, then get all those old LucasArts CD-Roms out of storage and play them!Rogue One is a movie by Star Wars fans for Star Wars fans, and if you’re a geek like me, here’s why:Blue MilkEveryone was on the edge of their seat wondering: Will Rogue One: A Star Wars Story be the Star Wars movie where we finally see the return of everyone’s favorite turquoise-tinged lactose delivery system? You can rest easy, the Star Wars blue milk, last seen on a Tatooine Moisture Farm in Episode IV: A New Hope makes a 2016 cameo in the movie’s pre-title sequence. It’s not much of a spoiler to say it’s in the Erso family kitchen – just keep an eye out while people are rushing around.Kyber CrystalsRogue One makes it official, the crystal in a Jedi’s lightsaber is called a kyber crystal. Or, as blind Force monk Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) puts it in the film: “The strongest stars have hearts of kyber.” The lore of kyber crystals really begins in Star Wars: The Clone Wars when a group of Jedi padawan were taken to a crystal cave on the planet Ilum to assemble their lightsabers. In the old “Legends” Star Wars canon, it didn’t have to be a kyber crystal at the core of a lightsaber. It usually was, but there were also different gems or small machinery in the lightsabers of lore. After Lucasfilm wiped the continuity in 2012 after the Disney purchase, a lost Clone Wars episode and a few mentions on the new animated series Star Wars: Rebels started developing the story around the crystals of varying size that could be used to harness great power. Catalyst, the Rogue One prequel novel, follows Galen Erso studies with kyber crystals as Orson Krennic tries to use his research to develop the Death Star.The Legends history of the Kaiburr Crystal was first introduced in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye; the first Star Wars expanded universe novel by Alan Dean Foster, the one that was published in 1978…before The Empire Strikes Back. The plot of that book features a single Kaiburr Crystal that enhances a person’s connection to the Force if you posses it. That’s why Luke and Vader and other Jedi and Sith in the Legends cannon so prized Kaiburr shards for making lightsabers: it was naturally Force-attuned. In the new-continuity, all Kyber crystals, regardless of size, are attuned to the Force, it’s just about cutting them and aligning their “day and night” lattices. It’s a long story. So long a story it’s a novel, and it’s called Catalyst.Guardians of the WhillsIn Rogue One, Chirrut and Baze describe themselves as “Guardians of the Whills,” which basically makes them traveling Force battle monks. However, the reference to the “Whills” is Star Wars oldest references. The 1973 outline of the story that would eventually (after many drafts) become Star Wars is titled “Journal of the Whills, Part I “ by George Lucas. It follows a “Jedi-bendu” named “Mace Windy” and his padawan “C.J. Thorpe.” Although Lucas refined the idea into the movie, we know as “A New Hope,” many of the original themes in his Whills outline served as fodder for the prequels.Only recently have references to these very early Lucas outlines started to permeate the Star Wars lore. In some of the Revenge of the Sith ancillary material (specifically the annotated screenplay and the novelization), we’re told Qui-Gon Jinn learned how to exist as part of the Force after death from a Shaman of the Whills, an ancient species/order that pre-date the Jedi and the Sith. All the things that the really powerful Force users talk about – preserving one’s consciousness after death or straight-up immortality – were supposedly mastered by the Whills. This got even more confusing with the Star Wars: The Clone Wars “Lost Season” episode called “Voices” which introduced “Force Priestesses” that trained Qui-Gon Jinn in preserving his consciousness, but they never completed their training (why Qui-Gon can’t manifest as a full Force Ghost). Rogue One is the first in-film mention of the Whills in the Star Wars Universe, so knowing that some pre-history has been locked into place is tantalizing (and who says Liam Neeson can’t come back for some voice work?)Saw GerreraSaw Gerrera being in Rogue One triggers mixed feelings for fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, where he originally appeared. Saw and his sister Steela were resisting the Separatists on the planet of Onderon during the Clone Wars and the age of the Republic. The Jedi were all generals of the Army of the Republic (clone troopers), and the Jedi High Council decided not to send a full army to Onderon. Instead they send Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano and Rex the clone trooper. They helped train the few resistance fighters who successfully repelled the Separatist threat, though Steela was killed.According to Star Wars: Rebels, Gerrera resisted the Empire as much as he resisted the Separatists, fighting off Agent Kallus if the ISB when he came to Onderon. Saw’s new group is called the Partisans and eventually will be one of the factions that make up the Rebel Alliance. We know a bit about the reputation of Saw Gerrera from a brief mention he gets in the novel Star Wars: Bloodline, which is set after Return of the Jedi. Then, one of the Republic Senators mentions to Princess Leia that Gerrera’s Partisans were considered terrorists by some standards. In Rogue One, we get to see the Partisans at the height of their reputation – screwing with the Empire the best they know how. Gerrera’s group, and the man himself are more threatening than any version of the Alliance we’ve seen on screen so far. Also, Gerrera at this point is more machine than man, and how that happened. is some history that still needs to be filled inVader’s CastleHold onto your butts – Vader’s Castle is totally in Rogue One. Now, no one calls it Vader’s Castle, and the planet that it is located on never gets mentioned, but it appears pretty clear that Vader has attendants of his own that serve the Sith Lord. Unlike his traveling hyperbaric chamber that we see him use in the original trilogy, the scarred Anakin Skywalker prefers to pass his time entirely out of his prosthetics and submerged in a healing Bacta Tank (like what they put Luke in in The Empire Strikes Back after the Wampa attack and Taun-Taun rescue). Krennic flies to meet Vader at this place, and we get an establishing shot of the building on a ridge next to a river of lava.Where this is located is still up in the air. Anytime molten lava is involved in a Darth Vader scene, the first thought is the planet of Mustafar, where Anakin lost his battle to Obi-Wan. However, Mustafar has a lot of lava and a lot of peaks so the building have to be platform based, above the lava. The planet that we see Vader’s castle on could also be the first look at Vjun, the acid-desert planet, which would legitimately mean that the castle is Bast Castle made manifest on screen. Bast Castle is the name of Vader’s non-canonical castle as it appeared in the Dark Empire II story. There it was being used for a post-Vader group of dark Jedi called the “Dark Side Elite.” If that sounds like just a Legends version of the Knights of Ren, you might not be far off – establishing Vader has his own base of operations with his own red Imperial Guards and cloaked underlings means there’s a whole side to Vader in the new-canon that has yet to be explored.UPDATE: The Rogue One Visual Dictionary CONFIRMS Darth Vader’s “Lair” is on Mustafar, built on top of an expansive “Sith cave” under the lava field. Blue SquadronBlue Squadron of the Rebel Alliance didn’t actually appear named on-screen until Return of the Jedi when Ten Numb flew Blue Five. In the first Star Wars novelization (originally titled Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker) which has several differences from the theatrically released A New Hope, Luke was on Blue Squadron, not Red Squadron during the Death Star trench run. After that, the Expanded Universe of Star Wars filled out the exploits of Blue Squadron during the Galactic Civil War to include a scout unit for the Tantive IV (the ship Leia is on at the beginning of A New Hope) and a role in the attack on the Death Star in LucasArts’ first Star Wars CD-Rom game, Star Wars: Rebel Forces (pictured above is Merrick Sims from the game and the Blue Leader’s last name in Rogue One is “Merrick!”).In Rogue One, Blue Squadron is not restored to a Tantive IV scout mission, but they do appear in a space battle along with the Red and Gold squadrons we know are mere weeks away from flying with Luke Skywalker in the Battle of Yavin. The mere presence of Blue Squadron is nice, as we’re finally following it (potentially) through the known canon. The Marvel Star Wars comics had a crossover event last year called “Vader Down” where Darth Vader crash-landed on a planet, and the Rebel Alliance tried to take him out (it didn’t work). Those crossover comics included Blue Squadron and is set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. Their inclusion in Rogue One bookends A New Hope, which is as close as having the Death Star participation of Blue Squadron restored as we’re likely to get. Go Blue!Bail Organa and Tantive IVThe involvement of Jimmy Smits in Rogue One is one of two casting Easter Eggs connecting the prequel trilogy to Rogue One. The other is Genevieve O’Reilly who played a young Mon Mothma in Revenge of the Sith, though the scene where she was named was cut, so it ended up being a blink-and-you’ll miss it appearance. Here, Mon Mothma acts more like who she will become in Return of the Jedi (“Many Bothans,” etc.), but is also joined in the early Rebel Alliance by Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) at the base on Yavin IV.There’s was a clip including Bail Organa released before Rogue One was released, so it’s not a spoiler to say that he’s in the movie, nor is it a spoiler to say that he ends up on Alderaan, so we won’t be seeing any more Bail Organa on-screen. In a line while Jimmy Smits is walking off screen as Bail Organa for the last time, you can hear him say he has a mission for “Captain Antilles.” This is the first indication that we’re going to see the Tantive IV frigate at the end of the film, the one that gets captured by Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer at the beginning of A New Hope. What’s unclear in the chaos of the last five minutes of the movie is if we actually see Captain Antilles while his ship makes a speedy escape with “hope.” We do get to see what makes Vader pissed off enough to choke out Antilles with his bare hands in Star Wars.Below are the SPOILER Star Wars connections (and resurrections!). Go see Rogue One first!Ponda Baba and Doctor Cornelius EvazanThe duo younger me would call “Pig Nose and Butt-Face” are, in fact, in Rogue One on the planet Jedha. Although it appears they only have hours to escape the city after their run in with Jyn and Cassian. This time, they decide not to go on blabbing about how they are “wanted men” or how many systems they have the death sentence on for gross medical malpractice and torture. They’ll be doing that in mere weeks in a Mos Eisley Cantina. Although boosting may be brought on by drink for Dr. Evazan, Ponda Baba just doesn’t seem to like people. He gets all grunty in Rogue One and the same thing gets them both on the wrong end of a lightsaber in A New Hope. Damn, kid, find some chill. Just because you don’t like anybody doesn’t mean you have to be such an a-hole about it.Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess LeiaIn Rogue One’s best hidden special effect, Peter Cushing reprises his role as Grand Moff Tarkin after dying in 1994. Since this connection has been so well hidden in the film’s marketing, it’s unclear exactly how this trick was pulled off, but we do have some clues from other recent movies (Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War and Ant-Man) and television (Anthony Hopkins in Westworld). Reddit readers were quick to notice that British actor Guy Henry briefly popped up on the Rogue One IMDB page as Tarkin, suggesting he could have been the actor on set playing opposite Ben Mendelsohn. Then, like Michael Douglas in Ant-Man, all available footage from the Lucasfilm archive of Cushing in the 1977 Star Wars would have been used to create a hyper-realistic digital mask. What’s unclear is how much of Tarkin’s performance is archival and how much is Guy Henry and someone doing their best voice-over impression. Certain phrases like “fire when ready” can be pulled from original takes, but how Tarking says “Krennic” in the film is still a toss up between sewing together clips (similar to how Alec Guinness says “Rey” in The Force Awakens by clipping the middle of him saying “afraid”), or a good impressionist. What’s also interesting is that we see some full-body Tarkin in Rogue One, which must have been difficult as most of Grand Moff Tarkin’s canonical appearances don’t include his shoes.Tech geeking out aside, this isn’t necessarily Tarkin’s re-entry into new-canon as the James Luceno novel Tarkin was released in 2014 as part of the early new Expanded Universe. That book tracked Tarkin’s rise through the fall of the senate and his quick ascension in the Empire to someone that’s Darth Vader’s equal in the eyes of the Emperor. The relationship between Vader and Tarkin is also expanded upon, giving more weight to why Vader would act like an enforcer for both the Emperor and a high-ranking Imperial official. After Tarkin, the Grand Moff showed up in animated form in Star Wars: Rebels when he came to quash the seeds of a Rebellion on Lothal. Both Tarkin and Vader received redesigns in the Rebels style for these appearances, but while it’s James Earl Jones voicing Vader in both Rebels and Rogue One, Tarkin in Rebels is played by voice-actor Stephen Stanton. If we want to continue to pull the thread of digitally resurrected Tarkin, Stanton is also in Rogue One as the voice of Mon Calamari General Raddus, so how hard would it have been to have him stitch together some lines on the side? Stay on target As a Star Wars fan I am incredibly thrilled, grateful and honoured to play Leia and be part of this beloved and amazing universe.#RogueOne— Ingvild Deila (@Ingvild_Deila) December 16, 2016The very end shot of Princess Leia, or Carrie Fisher circa 1977, is pulled off with a similar effect to Tarkin, and doesn’t look like it required the actual Fisher to be on set at any time. The Leia of The Force Awakens looks and sounds different, and a whole bunch of footage from A New Hope exists of Fisher in that era. We do know for sure who stepped in to play the role under the digital make-up for this one: actress Ingvild Deila.Familiar Fleet FacesGold Leader Dutch Vander (actor Angus MacInnes) and Red Leader Garven Dreis (actor Drewe Henley) are in Rogue One, no digital tricks. Using footage from the original 1970s run on the Death Star, the leader of the Red X-Wing Squadron and the leader of the Gold Y-Wing Squadron both make appearances in the movie. Their dialogue is re-worked, so when Gold Leader tells his Y-Wings to look out for the turrets, he’s talking about the turrets on the shield gate, not the turrets on the Death Star surface. When Dreis asks where Red Five is going, he’s not talking about Luke breaking formation, he’s talking about Rogue One’s doomed version of Red Five who is about to be blown up by a TIE fighter over Scariff (making an open spot for Luke in the Battle of Yavin). It’s nice to see the actors again, however brief the shots may be and it saves geeks like me a lot of trouble matching helmets to 1977 footage if the movie uses the actual footage and lines I’m used to.During my first screening, a fellow critic leaned over to me and asked: “Where’s Biggs?” I said “I don’t know,” but that’s just because I didn’t have time to explain: The A New Hope novelization, radio drama and some deleted scenes all confirm that at the time the Tantive IV is captured above Tattooine, Biggs is still hanging out with Luke on the planet about to join the Rebellion. It’s during the events of A New Hope that Biggs gets to Yavin IV and takes over a spot in the Rebel fleet. Which calls into question just how much action Biggs saw before dying. Oh, Biggs.Rebels ConnectionsStar Wars: Rebels, the animated series on Disney XD, tells the story of the beginning of the Rebel Alliance and is set before the events of both A New Hope and – it turns out – Rogue One. Matt Martin of the Lucasfilm Story Group tweeted that the events of Rogue One takes place after the end of the animated show’s narrative. This makes sense with Rogue One leading directly into A New Hope, but the placement of the Rogue One easter eggs actually provide some general spoilers to the series if it really takes before the Battle of Scarif (Chopper lives?).Specifically, there are three Rebels easter eggs I can find:Before Jyn and Cassian decide to go to Scariff with their rogue Rebel forces, but after the meeting where the Alliance council decides against it, “General Syndulla” is paged. This is either Hera Syndulla’s father Cham or Hera’s received a promotion since Rebels season three.As the Rebel comms officer is running out to tell Mon Mothma that Jyn and company have engaged the Empire on Scariff, Chopper rolls off screen on the left. Keep your ears alert whenever you’re watching a Yavin IV scene, because you can hear him doing his trademark bleeps and bloops fading away.It looks like The Ghost is in the Rebel Fleet in the space battle of Scariff! It’s for sure a VCX-100 light freighter and it’s in several shots. No one ever talks to the Ghost on comms, but if we just saw Chopper on the ground on Yavin, of course it’s the Ghost! Well, maybe we want to hope for multiple VCX-100s, because although the ship can be seen flying around after the Rebels have taken out the shield gate, it looks like the it might crash on Vader’s Death Star before getting away. I’ve only seen the movie twice and I’m not sure what to make of that, maybe I’m seeing things. That’d be a very downer way of having the Rebels crew survive their series but never have to be referenced in later time period films…they just blew up after the battle was over.