You will probably be hearing this a lot. But it's true. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a stunning cinematic achievement. It is both a completely different take on Star Wars and a seamless integration of numerous familiar elements. Audiences are going to be stupefied by the use of CGI and digital compositing. Lucasfilm has taken cutting edge special effects and expertly weaved them into a breathtaking adventure. It is a fantastic story that drills deep into beloved lore. It broadly encompasses everything that is great about Star Wars without any baggage whatsoever to weigh it down. Prepare to be blown out of your chairs. This review is spoiler free apart from the general story description.

Rogue One is the chronicle of the rebels that stole the plans for the Death Star. It is a prequel to Episode Four: A New Hope. Felicity Jones stars as Jyn Erso, a gutsy maverick critical to the Rebel Alliance. Her partner of sorts is Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a tough as nails intelligence agent. They lead a motley assortment against the near mythical reach of the Empire. Their adversary, Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), is a ruthless and arrogant officer tasked with completing the ultimate weapon.

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Rogue One has a whirlwind plot that takes off like a rocket. There are mere minutes of critical exposition in the beginning. We then jump headfirst into a galaxy crossing quest that spans multiple worlds. Along the journey are enough Easter Eggs to fill a forest. Die-hard fans are going to be tickled senseless with how faithfully Rogue One adheres to canon. It incorporates threads from Revenge of the Sith, The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and most importantly, A New Hope.

I was gravely concerned with another film about the Death Star. They've gone back to the well, but surprisingly yielded a different bounty. After the trademark opening frame, you're firmly aware that Rogue One is going to be a markedly different experience. The change of music, stark tone, more militaristic approach; this isn't a tale that centers on prodigies of the force. Rogue One is more in vein of a tactical heist film. The characters have history, but are unified in a strategic purpose.

The action is jaw-dropping spectacular. We've seen incredible battle scenes before in Star Wars, but Rogue One cranks up the voltage. Director Gareth Edwards takes us on a dizzying battlefield ride. You're in the trenches with the soldiers, dodging Star Destroyers in X-Wings, blasting and fighting your way out of Imperial ambushes. Rogue One probably has the least quiet moments of any Star Wars movie. That's not a critique. The nature of this story is one of non-stop movement.

Felicity Jones is a good actress, but I honestly thought she was just okay. It's the ensemble surrounding her, both Rebels and Imperials, which lift Rogue One to greatness. Alan Tudyk is just perfect as the deadpan, smart-ass droid, K-2S0. His comic timing is spot on in key moments. The villains, who can't be discussed in detail without spoilers, are deliciously evil. Everything that you wanted, or hoped to see, from the Star Wars baddies is here in spades. In fact, they were my favorite parts of Rogue One. The Empire is no joke, absolute monsters to reckon with. Rogue One reminds us why.

I'll have to watch Rogue One twenty more times to truly appreciate its scope. Some will be surprised by how dark and unforgiving the story is. Lucasfilm has outdone themselves. They've delivered a personal, thrilling installment that embodies the best of Star Wars. Rogue One is all killer. From Disney and Lucasfilm, Rogue One surpasses every expectation.

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Julian Roman at Movieweb
Julian Roman