The embargo has been lifted. The reviews are out. Here’s what movie critics are saying about “Rogue One,” Walt Disney and Lucasfilm’s highly anticipated addition to the “Star Wars” universe.
“Rogue One” is expected to rake in anywhere from $120 million to $150 million on its domestic opening weekend, according to some estimates. Last December’s “The Force Awakens” rode in on a $248 million U.S. opening to ultimately take $2.1 billion worldwide. And, of course, more “Star Wars” films are in the pipeline as Disney works to take advantage of its extremely lucrative Lucasfilm property.
Not only does “Rogue One” overlap ever so slightly with “A New Hope,” but it takes that blockbuster’s biggest weakness — that a small one-man fighter can blow up a battle station the size of a class-four moon — and actually turns this egregious design flaw into an asset. Now we know why the Death Star has an Achilles’ heel and how that information fell into Princess Leia’s hands.
While the film doesn’t overly rely on Vader, it makes the most of his brief scenes, reminding the audience why he was such an indelible villain. While Lucas’ attempts to humanize Vader were understandable, Rogue One restores him to a dark lord.
As the puzzle pieces snap into place, with a level of precision and economy that honors and even transcends the narrative foundation of “A New Hope,” “Rogue One” at last finds its own reason for being.
The film soars when it abandons all pretense of being a space opera, and fully embraces the bombastic modern action movie that’s at its core, giving it a unique identity that does indeed stand apart from other entries in the series.
Felicity Jones is in the tousled-yet-game tradition of Star Wars female leads, like Carrie Fisher or Daisy Ridley: well-born but determined, with a sense of purpose befitting an heiress, if not a princess.
There’s death, there’s destruction, there’s emotion, and there’s struggle. Not everyone is going to make it out OK, and yet, at the end of the film, somehow it’s all worth it. That’s because the darkness is balanced with the familiar iconography and tone of Star Wars, resulting in a film that gives its audience a truly fulfilling experience.
As always, a Star Wars movie lives or dies depending on how much we give a damn or don’t about the characters. Luckily, there are no cutesy Ewoks to soften Jyn’s journey into the heart of Imperial darkness.