Rogue One (2016), directed by Gareth Edwards, written by Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk
If you've ever wondered how the rebellion ever did manage to get their hands on the Death Star blueprints, you have no need to wonder any further. Before Rogue One I recall an older FPS game Dark Forces, where a mercenary named Kyle Katarn stole the plans, that's not what happens here. In this tale, we have a reluctant designer.
Galen Erso is the man whom the Empire wants to build their weapon. Erso isn't keen to play ball, but the empire has its ways and soon Erso is doing what's asked of him. Que forwards a couple of years to find Erso's daughter Jyn from an imperial lockup. She's freed by the rebellion because they know what her daddy's done and so she's driven on a mission to get her father out from the imperial hands as well as trying to get her hands on the blue prints.
Stylistically Rogue One is a gritty war movie. It's still set in a very familiar universe, but overall it's the grittiest movie ever to set in the Star Wars universe. Perhaps it's the touch of the Mouse though, that Rogue One doesn't manage to be grittier, as I suspect the powers that be might have had a hand in cutting out some aspects that could have turned out even grittier.
Surprisingly enough Rogue One does manage to stand on its own feet though. There where Force Awakens felt like a piece of fan fiction with scenes dripping with fan service, Rogue One manages to be mostly an entity of its own. You could argue that there's some amount of fan service provided though, especially with the scenes with Darth Vader in them. The same goes with the digitally re-created Peter Cushing as Tarkin and a young version of Carrie Fisher as Leia.
Rogue One is not a flawless movie, far from it. It has characters in it that don't really go anywhere and as a whole, the main characters are also a bit forgettable. It's a shame really, as that makes giving a damn a tad hard at times. And giving a damn would be pretty important in a movie like this.
Out of the two Disney Star Wars movies, Rogue One is clearly a stronger movie and clearly better than what George Lucas did manage to do with the prequel trilogy. It's still far from being the best of the series though, but it does hold a promise that there might be some good stuff coming this way at some point.