Review by Christine Thompson

ROGUE ONE is up to the challenge of quickly taking us to a galaxy far, far away and simultaneously to a pop culture phenomenon of almost 40 years ago.  Dropping us right into the start of the rebellion, this prequel, sans George Lucas and plus Director Gareth Edwards, remains faithful to the original vibe of EPISODE IV:  NEW HOPE.

The minute the movie starts the audience is shown how and why the Death Star became the scourge of the galaxy, and how the Evil Empire grows in power.

Felicity Jones plays Jyn Erso, whose father Galen (Mads Mikkelsen) is the scientist responsible for the building of the Death Star.  Jyn is separated from her parents when the Empire comes calling in the form of Orson Krennick (Ben Mendelsohn) and is forced to fend for herself until old family friend Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) rescues her at the appointed place pre-planned by her parents.  Saw Gerrera has her until age 16, whereupon she runs away only to emerge later as the butt-kicking, solitary warrior concerned only with survival in this tough, tough world.

The Alliance rescues our reticent hero, who’s unwilling to join The Rebellion.  But then the magic happens as she meets the rest of the rebel warriors, but what happens next you will have to go to the movie to see.  I will say that Jyn teams up with defected Empire pilot Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his reprogrammed droid sidekick (Alan Tudyk).  But Donnie Yen killed it as Chirrut Imwe, the blind jedi monk.  His performance elicits the most authentic empathetic audience reaction.

The entire cast of the film is great, I willingly suspended disbelief and preconceived ideas vanished as I surrendered to the flow of the film.  I highly recommend seeing the film, but first, watch the original STAR WARS IV:  NEW HOPE in order to really appreciate the seamless way ROGUE ONE blends into the fabric of the Star Wars Legend. Plus, it’s a good primer if you’re going to indoctrinate the new generation – I mean take your kids, people.  Really.

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