Rogue One holds a unique place in the Star Wars saga. It is unlike any of the other seven movies which have come down the pike, all proclaiming that they were the newest, untold chapter in an epic tale which began a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. And, while there may be some skepticism leveled at a Star Wars movie which works to upset the established order of the series’ tone and conventions, Rogue One nevertheless stands out as the most original and distinctive in the franchise’s history.
That distinctiveness begins with its plot. Compared to a heist movie and a WWII epic by Entertainment Weekly, Rogue One never shies away from playing up the high stakes of its story, but chooses to focus on character. These newly-woven, unfamiliar threads in the great Star Wars tapestry make for fine heroes and antagonists; they are just the kind of characters who are needed in a movie of this kind which is not afraid to dwell on the bleaker aspects of intergalactic conflict.
But, that’s not to say that Rogue One isn’t afraid to play to nostalgia – as a prequel, a certain amount is to be expected. Truly breathtaking special effects are utilized in order to recreate some of the series’ most memorable figures – including the ever welcome Peter Cushing as the villainous Grand Moff Tarkin.
But, at the end of the day, Rogue One really is about the darker fringes of Star Wars. If The Forces Awakens was a spiritual successor to A New Hope, then Rogue One follows in the wake of The Empire Strikes Back. A prequel which does more than just set the stage for the original trilogy, Rogue One flawlessly answers the pressing questions which have remained unanswered for nearly forty years.