I just watched Rogue One: A Star Wars Story--a couple days early (ha.ha.)... First off, let me say: Fuckin' A! After last year's less-than-mediocre Jar Jar Abrams-directed Episode VII, I had little faith in Disney's capability to manage the Star Wars franchise. And, there were a number of rumors in Hollywood that Rogue One was going to suck. Accordingly, I watched with low expectations.
We should all commend Director Gareth Edwards for an excellent job at maneuvering the many corporate obstacles that I'm sure he faced in making the film. Rogue One is kool af. Set in-between Episode III and Episode IV, Rogue One successfully links the Star Wars-new with the Star Wars-old, as well as the prospective Star Wars-future. I won't spoil too much. But, let's just say, the film has a lot of lore packed into to a solid story. Centrally, the film seamlessly explains one of the decades-lingering questions of Episode IV--why the hell was the Death Star so easy to destroy?
The story follows a band of ragtag rebels trying to obtain the Death Star plans--the same ones we see as the McGuffin of Episode IV. Characters Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, and K2 lead the charge. Not bad, not bad at all. And, perhaps more importantly, Rogue One boasts some juicy stuff for Star Wars fans. Darth Vader's lair on Mustafar! Jimmy Smits returns as Senator Organa! General Donanna. Senator Mon Monthma as the Golda Meir of the Rebel Alliance. Grand Moff Tarkin's redux is badass. Old school shots of Gold and Red leaders rock (as does Blue Leader generally speaking). Plus: Vader! Vader! Vader!
The film also depicts an old Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker)--a Clone Wars insurgent à la Che Guevara. Even though Che sucked royal ass in real life, Saw is one of my fav Clone Wars characters. By the time of Rogue One, Gerrera's forces are apt in their insurgency against the Empire but Gerrera is old and physically worn down and necessarily passes the torch of the rebellion. The film shows the Empire's struggle with insurgents, as well as the Rebel Alliance's difficulties with the more "extreme" anti-Empire Gerrera forces. Kool stuff.
Rogue One is quite aesthetically pleasing as well. As best said by Ben Mendelsohn's amazing character Director Krennic : "Oh, it's beautiful" as the Death Star destroys a moon.