‘Rogue One’ is all it was made out to be

It seems like it’s been forever since “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was released last Christmas, but yet again, the Disney giant mega-corp has released another December Star Wars goodie in the form of the somber Rogue One. You’ve probably already watched the film, but if you haven’t, let me tell you how worth your time this latest entry (and first in the “Anthology” series) in the Star Wars Universe is.

As this is an original Star Wars production headed by the Disney machine, of course I was excited to see “Rogue One.” What wasn’t there to be excited about? The cast is full of the highest A-listers in the game, from Mads Mikkelsen’s tragic and masterful performance as Galen Erso, to Diego Luna’s dashing Captain Cassian Andor, there’s someone for everyone to cheer for on the Rebellion’s crew of misfits and hardened soldiers. Other than a few sticking points, the overall structure that Director Gareth Edwards has prepared for us is solid – we start at the beginning (no flashback ever feels hamfisted or overly expositional), and we slam to a pulse-pounding conclusion that drops us off right on the steps of “A New Hope.” If you haven’t seen “Rogue One,” you should do so for the ending alone. The payoff is so satisfying that it’s difficult to remember any previous quibbles you may have had (including one cameo moment that had a poor, cheesy dialogue moment that feels more like wink-and-nod writing than character development).

The breakout characters are Donnie Yen’s Chirrut Imwe, who will forever be immortalized as the “Jedi who is not a Jedi” in my mind, and the lovable Imperial Droid K2-SO, whose constant one-liners lighten the mood of an otherwise gritty war movie. Notable performances to Forrest Whitaker as Saw Guerrera’s madman rebel and who-the-hell-ever did the body work for Darth Vader (doesn’t seem like David Prowse as usual), as well as Genevieie O’Reilly’s Mon Mothma. However, Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso took the prize for best performance in this film, in my opinion after watching the movie three times.