Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) in "Rogue One." Photo courtesy of BagoGames on flickr.

It’s that time of year again.

No, I don’t mean Christmas.

And no, I definitely don’t mean finals.

Roughly a week from now, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” will hit theaters, telling the story of how a brave group of rebels led by Jyn Erso [Felicity Jones] banded together to steal the plans of the Death Star, which will eventually tie together loose ends leading up to “Episode IV: A New Hope.”

This potential box office extravaganza marks the first of three spinoff movies for the “Star Wars” saga, the second of which will follow the adventures of a young Han Solo [Alden Ehrenreich].

Looking at the pattern Hollywood has been following in recent years, it seems spinoffs and sequels are the only thing that will keep money flowing – and frankly, I don’t blame them.

While some sequels (I’m looking at you “Batman v Superman”) were bold and rather unconventional, others like the recent “Harry Potter” spinoff “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” did justice to the original works, while still carving out its own unique feel as a film.

At the cusp of the latest piece of “Star Wars” coming to fruition, let’s take a look at how “Rogue One” will fare in the grand scheme of Hollywood spinoffs as well as the legacy of “Star Wars.”

First and foremost, “Rogue One” appears to take a drastic turn in focus from the mysticism of the “Star Wars” movies, showcasing grit and emotion from the likes of its ensemble cast such as Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera and Diego Luna as Captain Cassian Andor.

This adds more depth to the already rich franchise, showing while the Force may be present in all living things, the passion and dire consequences for this rebellion outweigh whatever lives may be lost in the process.

Another point of pride with “Rogue One” is that unlike many of its Disney cousin Marvel’s many forgettable villains (save for the returning Loki and the eventual Thanos), “Rogue One’s” main villain, Darth Vader, is a real and credible threat.

While knowing “Rogue One” connects to the original trilogy gives Vader some life insurance, seeing the seven-foot-tall Dark Lord of the Sith in full force is a scary thought, both for the rebels and for the audience.

Who knows if Jyn and the others would even live to tell the tale of their mission?

Who knows where this will tie in to the most recent sequel trilogy led by “The Force Awakens”?

Spinoff movies like “Rogue One” are already asking questions of where to go from here, and even if it’s just a one-off film like many anticipate, it’s a testament to how “Star Wars” has perfected the art of the cinema spinoff.

Let “Rogue One” be a lesson Hollywood, and may the Force be with you.

For comments/questions about this story, email arts@thewhitonline.com or tweet @TheWhitOnline.

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