The new featurette reveals some incredible-looking additions to the Star Wars universe.
Taking a cue from J.J. Abrams and The Force Awakens, a new featurette reveals Gareth Edwards has rejected CGI in favor of practical effects to create his creatures. This is good news for many of Star Wars purists, whose dismay at George Lucas' digital re-tinkering of the original trilogy has yet to be allayed.
There's something about having practical special effects that makes the Star Wars series so much more believable. The original world Lucas created was not as finely polished as his later CGI settings and characters suggest; at its core, Star Wars isn't about a future that's shiny, glistening, and smooth. Once the '80s came around and it was clear that flying cars and The Jetsons was not what was in store for humankind, sci-fi rightfully veered toward depictions of a darker, more industrial future.
This unpolished—or "lived-in"—look was not the product of a low budget, but rather a conscious decision to render the universe with a retrofuturistic aesthetic (à la Blade Runner and Alien). More specifically, it could be called junk sci-fi, or "gomi," derived from William Gibson's short story The Winter Market. In Gibson's cyberpunk tale, a character nicknamed "Gomi no Sensei," or "Master of Junk" in English, could transform junk into incredible sculptures. Perhaps this is what all practical effects artists aspire to in their work.
In his original trilogy, Lucas truly lived up to the nickname "Gomi no Sensei." His films conveyed a universe whose inhabitants took whatever "heap of junk" happened to be lying around and turned it into something beautiful.
Somewhere along the way, however, he became too interested in an emerging technology to realize that it fundamentally contradicted the nature of his films. We're glad to see the new Star Wars iterations get back on track. As Collider points out, Rogue One "offers an opportunity to populate the world of the film with a bounty of practical creatures, given that the story doesn’t involve heroes who are Force-sensitive."
While some might dismiss this notion as nostalgia, it's clearly a choice that matters to the franchise.