It’s no Force Awakens, but Rogue One is a sturdy addition to the Star Wars franchise.
Jyn Erso isn’t as charismatic as Rey, but she’s a very respectable character in her own right. (She also never irritates me the way Anakin and Luke often do.) She goes through a lot in the time we spend with her. Watching Felicity Jones portray Jyn’s struggle to keep herself together as her heart breaks is really what humanizes the character for me.
The film would benefit from more character work in general, as I didn’t grow particularly attached to anyone. K-2SO provides a much-needed humour balance for the high stakes however, in what is otherwise a serious and forgettable cast of secondary characters. Except for Chirrut Imwe. He’s a blind badass and watching him fight is pure aristry.
While the story as a whole is interesting and fits well with the Star Wars universe, I found myself coasting along until the last 20-or-so minutes of the movie. That’s where all the gasps and goosebumps happen. Not only does it set the stage for the original trilogy, it reminds me of the significance of those characters. Darth Vader’s lightsaber illuminating his form amidst smoke and darkness actually strikes me with fear and dread. (It’s my favourite part of the movie.) It’s a reminder that he’s the original badass villain, and there’s a reason everyone’s intimidated by him.
Visuals are fantastic. Hand-to-hand combat scenes are impressively choreographed and executed, while aerial combat makes quite the spectacle. There’s something about seeing all those ships spiraling through the air that brings out the kid in me.
And of course, the music is grand. It still has the familiar Star Wars sound, but it’s different enough to have its own, more subtle, feel that aptly positions it as “not part of the main story”.