Entertainment

Don't call 'Rogue One: A Star Wars Story' a prequel ... even if it is

Posted January 10

Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher pose for a publicity shot for the 1977 film "Star Wars." (Deseret Photo)

A few months ago, in keeping with this column’s prime directive, which is to address the pressing, hot-button issues on my beat — and that, of course, is movies — I tackled a very important and often misunderstood topic: “sequel” and “prequel” vs. “sidequel.”

Well, maybe people are not so much misunderstanding the topic as they are completely unaware of it. Which is to say, I had no idea there was such a word as sidequel until it was used in a Deseret News story.

This naturally prompted me to do some serious in-depth research using the only source for facts that is universally respected as accurate, thanks to its total rejection of “fake news” — Wikipedia.

Said research consisted of typing “sidequel” into the Wikipedia search mode, which took me to “sequel” and its derivatives.

First, the obvious: Sequel and prequel are commonly used words meaning, respectively, a movie that continues the story of an earlier film and a movie that tells a story set before an earlier film.

Hence, “Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi” is a sequel to “Star Wars” while “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” is a prequel to “Star Wars.”

By the way, I am purposely using the title of the original film without Roman numerals or subtitles. When I first saw “Star Wars,” there were no Roman numerals and there was no subtitle; calling it "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope" came along later.

Second, the oblivious: Sidequel refers to a movie that takes place in the same universe or time frame as a previous film but with different characters and its own story.

And I’m rehashing all of this, why?

Because the folks at Disney and Lucasfilm took such pains upon the release last month of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” to ensure that no one would refer to it as a sequel or a prequel.

And they didn’t use the term sidequel either, although that actually fits what they were going for.

Instead, the studio was insistent that “Rogue One” is a stand-alone film, the first entry in what has been officially dubbed the Star Wars Anthology Series.

So here’s the plan: Every other year, we’ll have a sequel to George Lucas’ original Star Wars timeline and on alternate years, we’ll see stand-alone entries in the Anthology Series.

Thus, December 2017 brings us a direct follow-up to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (Disney/Lucasfilm is letting us call that one a sequel) and in December 2018, the second Anthology Series film will be about young Han Solo.

And I suppose that won’t be a prequel either. Right.

Obviously, the goal is to set up a Star Wars film as the year’s biggest box-office hit each and every year.

Yes, it’s George Lucas’ universe and we just pay to watch it.

But, getting back to the original discussion here — I’m sorry, but “Rogue One” is definitely a prequel.

In fact, it’s a very specific prequel: To the original 1977 film that people of a certain age still think of as simply “Star Wars.”

All of the events in “Rogue One” lead directly to the beginning of “Star Wars,” and much of the story purposefully expands on what we know from that film, explaining aspects that went unanswered (and which no one cared about) in 1977.

In fact, “Rogue One” ends mere moments before Princess Leia sends R2-D2 to Tatooine with the Death Star plans, along with her holographic message to Obi-Wan Kenobi.

And if you don’t know what any of that means … really? Who doesn’t know the plot of “Star Wars”?

Chris Hicks is the author of "Has Hollywood Lost Its Mind? A Parent’s Guide to Movie Ratings." He also writes at www.hicksflicks.com and can be contacted at hicks@deseretnews.com.

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