If one was to marry the action and adventure feeling of the original Star Wars (A New Hope) and the overall tone of Episode V (The Empire Strikes Back) their offspring would be Rogue One. Arguably the best entry in the Star Wars universe since The Empire Strikes Back. I already know, that is a controversial statement since I just said that the film is better than both The Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Hear me out though.
The film essentially follows our protagonist Jyn Erso from a traumatic event in her young life to her eventual interaction with the rebellion. Along the way she meets a cast of colorful characters that aid her on her journey. Starting with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) who plays his role quite well as the leader and morally torn rebellion officer. He is is aided by one of the major standouts of the film K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) who is a reprogrammed imperial droid and provides much of the humor throughout the film. They meet two characters Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Wen Jiang) two characters who play quite well off each other. Yen’s blind monk who has an unwavering devotion to the force balances perfectly with Jiang’s loss of faith in the force. Of course the group is rounded out by Erso (played quite perfectly by Felicity Jones) who has been wandering the galaxy with no real allegiance to this point.
We should all know that the main plot involves getting the plans of the Death Star to the Rebellion. What sets this film apart from other Star Wars films is the general sense of danger and suspense involving the main character. Those, mixed with some genuine hearty laughs brought me back to the feelings I had when I watched the original Star Wars, and it was quite welcome.
Does this film hit all the beats of a traditional Star Wars film? Yes, including some nods to the original which gave the audience in the theater quite a thrill. It is reminiscent enough of a Star Wars film to invoke feelings of nostalgia, but covers enough new ground to let it stand on its own merits, which The Force Awakens unfortunately cannot say (not that I didn’t like the film). And the ending? I won’t spoil anything, but I will say it fits in quite perfectly with the universe as a whole.
One more side note: if you are watching and listening quite closely, you may notice that they unveil some Star Wars history that has not yet been touched upon. All in all a great time at the movies, and well worth the Star Wars name.