Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Gareth Edwards – 2016) A-

This is a really solid movie. Not knowing what to expect for this non-numbered SW flick I went in with middling expectations. It managed to totally win me over with solid writing, exceptional CGI, well-choreographed and setup battle scenes and some very good performances by the likes of Ben Mendelsohn and Mads Mikkelsen. This takes place in the timeline leading up to Episode IV and focuses on how the resistance managed to get hold of the Death Star plans. This was not an easy feat and the film really spends time showing how difficult and costly that was. We even get a solid explanation for that much made fun of (by me at least) “weak spot in the Death Star”. This is overall a war movie and to that end it is one of the more brutal in the series. I wonder how much younger viewers will like how expendable and morally-ambiguous many of these characters are. It introduces a lot of new characters and handles them -mostly- well. The droid K-2SO is great as is the blind temple guard and his buddy. A bit more character development for Jyn Erso  and Saw Gerrera would have made this better. Very few familiar characters here but the few scenes that Darth Vader is in are just great, from his introduction to the terrifying final few minutes of the film with him.

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