Rogue One: A Star Wars Story ★★★★★

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Let's state the obvious. Rogue One is not flawless. There's at least one major character transformation that appears to take place entirely off-screen, and there's some pretty shoddy tech justification going on for the final sequences, among other things.

So it's not flawless.

But within the sphere of movies it represents, it is epic.

I enjoyed the cinema-going experience presented by this film more than I did The Force Awakens. Partly because while it represents the Star Wars universe, it's a story alongside and doesn't carry the baggage that TFA needed to, and partly because this is a darker, more morally ambiguous world.

The problem with Jedi and Sith, is that the lines are cleanly drawn between good and evil. It's why Solo's character in A New Hope is so critical - he blends those lines, and it's why Lucas' re-interpretation of his actions is so frustrating.

And it's why Rogue One delivers a story that I found compelling and engaging. Here we have good guys doing bad things, bad guys doing good things, and extremists on both sides of the lines.

Although long, the pace is okay - I found the start slow and I really, really missed my Star Wars crawling text - but it picks up well enough and maintains a pretty good clip.

If you want all the scenes from the trailer to be in the film, you'll be disappointed.

I enjoyed the cast, the dialog, the major characters and the level of humour (it never felt forced). I found the world engaging, and realistic in a way that A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back managed, but Return of the Jedi and the three prequels failed to achieve. This feels like a universe populated with people, and it hints at the darkness with the Empire beyond anything we've seen so far. For some reason, blowing up entire planets doesn't instil the same level of evilness as seeing a prison truck bound for an Empire labour camp.

Vader was great (although I feel a little disappointed that James' voice isn't what it was in 1977 - and then I feel angry at myself for being so pathetic) and we get some very interesting views of him.

There are three standout cinematic moments for me, a combination of visuals, timing and score and I'll be honest, they all use the original 1977 score elements (which are otherwise scarce). I won't give them away. Beyond those, there are many excellent scenes and sequences that are exciting or moving in equal measure, and I was really touched by the last third of the film.

There are a large number of characters who are never given names and yet you are fully engaged in their survival throughout, which is pretty impressive work on the part of the team who made it.

On top of all of that, are the Easter eggs, surprises and cameos, none of which I'll mention or give away.

Overall, Rogue One is an excellent movie, a superb Star Wars movie, and an excellent and enjoyable cinematic experience. I could give this anywhere between 4 and 5 points, and I don't even care if it's nostalgia that's tipping me from 4 to 5. There's nothing wrong with revisiting a much loved world and hearing a new story.

Go see this movie (twice).

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