PG-13  |  133 min 
Review - Matt Mungle

*In theaters 12.16.16*

SynopsisThe Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.

Review: When Force Awakens hit theaters it provided die hard Star Wars fans with the movie they needed. It was an emotional, fluffy offering that gave us a chance to once again see our beloved characters on the big screen. We all remember the joy of seeing Han and Chewie walk on board the Millennium Falcon again. It was hard to watch that and not swell up inside with tearful exhilaration. With Rogue One: A Star Wars Story fans get the movie they wanted; and it could be the best one yet. 

The most impressive thing about Rogue One is how seamlessly it fits with Episode IV A New Hope. Fans of the franchise will appreciate the lengths that the producing team and Director Gareth Edwards went to to make sure this one felt like an authentic Star Wars story. There are so many little things they did right. Many of those will not be listed here so that viewers and fans can experience them organically and with newness. But know that they are there and they are fantastic. 

This story takes place right before Episode IV. It is about a group of Rebel forces who risk everything in order to steal the plans for the new Imperial super weapon that we know as the Death Star (we have all uttered the words, "that's no moon, it's a space station" at some point). Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) is key to this mission due to her connection to high profile players on both sides. She joins Rebel soldier Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) in an all out assault on the Imperial compound. One that, as we know, has huge consequences at stake. It is a mission that must succeed. 

The cast is incredible and Jones is almost unrecognizable in this gritty, action packed role. Another brilliant casting decision is Donnie Yen as Chirrut ‘mwe. If you are unfamiliar with the Ip Man martial arts films this will be a small taste of how fluidly he moves and the rich depth he brings to a character. His mastering of wushu and tai chi is unparalleled. So to watch him bring that to a Star Wars character solidifies 'the force' in a way that has yet to be done. 

Fans of this franchise look for certain elements that make it Star Wars. The star ships, the dialogue, the rebels and Imperials, the aliens; all need to be a part of the Star Wars Universe. The story can be fresh and unheard of but the world in which it takes place has to be exact. It most live in the same space. This one thankfully does. 

Characters old and new show up too which grounds this in the time period. You could splice this one (and I am sure someone will) into the 1977 film A New Hope and never catch the edit. It is that great a companion. It again goes back to the painstaking details that the filmmakers insisted on. 

The action is more prevalent and intense in this one which is something Force Awakens lacked. This is more War than Stars and the movie is better for it. But it is not without humor. Again there are things we expect. One of them is a robot counterpart to break the tension when needed. Here we are introduced to K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk). He is nothing like you have seen in a Star Wars film but at the same time fits right at home. 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is rated PG-13 for extended sequences of sci-fi violence and action. It is darker and more action packed than Force Awakens but still fine for your younger family members. It would almost be a shame to deny any Star Wars fan the opportunity to see this story unfold. Granted I am not going to take my 4 year old but those 10 and up who have seen all the others hundreds of times will love this one too; even if they don't get it all. I give it 4.75 out of 5 X-Wing Fighters. It was near perfect and exactly the movie this fan wanted.

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