The latest movie in the Star Wars franchise, titled Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, is releasing this weekend in India and around the world and our review will be coming in shortly. However, if you're a Star Wars fan (and who isn't, really?) then you probably noticed that there's something amiss about that title. There's no episode number (Force Awakens was Episode VII), and the name doesn't even start with Star Wars. What the heck is a Star Wars Story anyway?
Well, the studio decided that instead of sticking to just the 'main' Star Wars Saga, it's going to alternate the lineup with standalone spinoff movies. That means that one year sees a Star Wars 'Episode', and the next year sees a Star Wars 'Story'. These films are developed in parallel, so that the studio can drop one big Star Wars movie each year without having to lose out on quality.
At least, that's the idea - and as the first of these spinoffs, there's a lot of pressure on Rogue One to succeed, because if this film flops, it will cast a lot of doubt on the idea of these standalone movies. So what all do you need to know, going in to watch Rogue One this weekend?
1) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is not a sequel to Force Awakens
Last year, we were impressed enough by the exploits of Rey and BB8 to call The Force Awakens one of our favourite movies of the year, and it would have been great to see that story develop and finally find out what is going on with Luke Skywalker.
That's going to happen next year - right now, we're getting Rogue One, which is a sequel to the prequels that were actually sequels to the original saga. Yeah, that takes a little figuring out. Essentially, the film is set just before the events of the first Star Wars movie ever released, initially known as Star Wars, and later as Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. The prequel trilogy told the origin stories leading up to the original trilogy, so Rogue One falls between the two sets of movies.
2) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story directly sets up the events of A New Hope
The opening scene of A New Hope was one of the iconic moments of science fiction movies, and movies in general, as you see the rebel spaceship speed across the screen, which is steadily filled up by the enormous Imperial Cruiser giving chase.
The Imperials capture the rebel ship, and start to search for stolen plans to the first Death Star - these plans are the key to Luke Skywalker's defeating the Imperials and blowing up the space station.
Rogue One details the mission to get these plans and steal them for the Rebels, as a rag-tag team mounts a commando mission against the Empire.
3) The next spin-off movie is already planned - sort of
As we already mentioned, there's going to be one new spin-off movie every alternate year. This means that the next standalone movie will be releasing in 2018 - it's presently planned for May 2018, while Star Wars: Episode VIII and IX will be releasing in December 2017, and sometime in 2019.
The title of the next spin-off isn't known, but we do know that it's a Han Solo movie. It's going to be a prequel too, and the young Han Solo has been cast - Harrison Ford's shoes are going to be filled by Alden Ehrenreich, who acted last in a comedy written, edited, and directed by the Coen Brothers, called Hail, Ceaser!
4) Despite the title, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is not a movie about dogfights in space
The name Rogue One might make you think of Star Wars' Rogue Squadron, the legendary X-Wing pilots who would go on to be a thorn in the side of the Empire through the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Rogue Squadron was formed after the Battle of Yavin (where the Death Star was blown up), so although the movie has shown shots of X-Wings, don't expect them to be the stars of the show this time around.
5) You don't need to be up to date on Star Wars to follow Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
By now, the Star Wars Saga has gotten a little heavy on lore. When watching Force Awakens, you might have been a little lost if you didn't know who Chewbacca is, or what the deal was between Han Solo and Leia Organa.
That's not the case with Rogue One though - although the movie is directly linked to the events of A New Hope, and thus having some familiarity with that film will be important, as a prequel, it doesn't rely so much on established characters. What's more, from what we've seen, it really does look like a fresh take on Star Wars, that doesn't rely too much on the existing mythos.
6) Is Darth Vader going to make an appearance in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story?
Yes! It sounds a little hypocritical to be so excited about Darth Vader after saying that this film is its own thing, but he's such an iconic part of the series that even people who have never seen the movies can recognise the character, with his iconic voice (James Earl Jones returns to the role) and stentorian breathing.
7) Are there Jedi in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story?
Not so far as we know. It takes place after the Clone Wars, and the extermination of the Jedi. Small numbers did of course survive, including most importantly the Skywalker twins, but at this point of time in the chronology of the series, the Jedi are mostly forgotten, thought of as a myth, and the force a "hokey old religion," to quote Han Solo.
So far it seems that the hero of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a female rebel played by Felicity Jones, who was also in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and The Theory of Everything.
This is actually a welcome move, as one of the problems we had with the prequels was that the large number of Jedi present accomplished a lot less than the one Jedi who was there in the original series. It would seem that Jedi powers function a little bit like homeopathy - fewer Jedi are better than more.
These are some of the highlights of what we know about Rogue One: A Star Wars story. Are you excited about watching this movie? Tell us why via the comments, and stay tuned for our review, it's coming very soon. Spoiler alert: now this is pod-racing!