Rogue One stands tall next to every other Star Wars movie. It was a tall order to create a movie that takes place right before Episode 4: A New Hope, the movie that really shapes what we all know as Star Wars. How do you even begin to make a direct prequel to a classic. Rogue One executed it beautifully by giving us familiar characters, music, themes and quotes. It fits right at home between Episode 3 and 4.
I will start by discussing the negatives of the film to get that out of the way. Act 1 of the film (roughly first 20-30 minutes) is a slow burn. We get some character introductions/motivations, choppy and fast paced new planet introductions and our Rogue One team is put together. Once that is complete the movie takes off. As to why the movie takes off is a spoiler so I go no further.
Act 2 and 3 of the film are fantastic. As the franchise name implies the films are about Wars in the Stars. I am not one of those people who say there has not been any War in the Star Wars films but it was not always the central focus. The central focus of the episode films from 1 through 7 is the Skywalker family story. Rogue One is about the Rebellion and those who sacrificed their lives so Luke could be successful in destroying the Death Star. Rogue One is about naming the unnamed heroes we did not know about since A New Hope was released in 1977. It is about the heroes on the ground and not the Gods and Devils fighting in the sky.
Rogue One is to me the best looking Star Wars film we have to date. Visually, Gareth Edwards (Godzilla, Monsters), shows us Star Wars on a scale we have not seen before. Ships look dwarfed to other ships, Star Destroyers look dwarfed to the Death Star. The sense of scale is unseen before in Star Wars. This scale does not alone make the film good. There is much more to see. This film makes is so visually pleasing it makes the prequels look like a student film and makes The Force Awaken (TFA) look bland and unstylistic. We get planets that are bustling and full of alien life, something I found was absent in TFA and far too abundant in the prequels. Rogue One finds a balance between dense and void settings. I am not hating on the previous movies I just find that Rogue One does everything correctly. The sounds and music used is also great. They were able to capture many of the original sounds of blasters and star fighter really well and make them fresh. The music is composed by Michael Giacchino (Dr. Strange, Star Trek Trilogy, Zootopia). Luckily this time around the music does not sound like it is from Star Trek, as was the case for Dr. Strange.
The cameos and Easter eggs help connect the films old and new but also make the galaxy seem familiar.
Character wise the entire Rogue One team stands together strongly. Felicity Jones and Diego Luna are our two key players throughout the film. Their duo is not the strongest or most charming we have seen in Star Wars but we do get that from other characters. Donnie Yen who plays Chirrut, a blind warrior, and Wen Jiang who plays Baze, a freelance assassin, give us two characters who are both contrasting and fun to watch. Alan Tudyk plays droid K-2SO who is the comedic relief for most of the film. K-2 is sarcastic and has a bit of a darker sense of humor that we are use to from droids.
I would love to get into more detail but I do not want to spoil. I truly believe anyone who is a Star Wars fan or enjoys those movies in the slightest must see this and if you never enjoyed Star Wars still go see it because it is a bit of a new flavour than the rest. It does not heavily rely on Easter eggs or a large knowledge of the Star Wars universe, it is enjoyable by itself but even more enjoyable because I watched Episode 4 the day before. Go see it.