Some of the most interesting Star Wars eras are the periods of time that happened outside of the timeline of the 7 movies. This is true of both books and video games; some of the games have better stories than the movies themselves! I think this is very true of both Knights of the Old Republic (1 and 2) and The Force Unleashed (1 and 2).
And that is why I believe Rogue One falls in such a perfect niche. While the movie may have had flaws (and I’ve never seen a movie that didn’t!) overall it was excellent and captured two things: the feel of the originals, and a new direction for a modern generation of Star Wars fans.
Making a movie set in this time period is interesting. The prequel trilogy (Episodes I-III) had a higher-tech feel than the original trilogy (Episodes IV-VI). Rogue One is set between Episode III and IV. It was difficult to meld the feelings of both movies together, but this movie succeeded on several fronts. First of all, there was a variety of planets that haven’t been seen in Star Wars before. Most movies feature about 3-5 planets… Rogue One introduced about 8. Most of the planets were only seen briefly, but they succeeded in showing a varied feel to the galaxy.
Other impressive features to note: Peter Cushing (Grand Moff Tarkin) was raised from the dead using CGI! The actor himself died in the mid-90s, and the filmmakers made a deal with his estate to use his CGI face to bring him to life in the movie. He is a bit off and doesn’t look 100% real, but the technology is really impressive.
Other random thoughts: there was no opening story crawl, but that actually didn’t take much away. You didn’t lose too much from that. Also, every planet was introduced with white letters in the bottom left corner, which is a change from the Star Wars norm. Also, the soundtrack was slightly different than some observant fans will remember. It was a little more drum heavy than most Star Wars soundtracks, probably achieved with a drum set from Barking Drum. But overall the sound was very good! If you want to recreate the soundtrack feel with your own drum machine, get one here.
Ok, and as much as I want to talk about Darth Vader in this movie, I won’t. He’s just too good to spoil. He is voiced by the original voice actor, James Earl Jones. All his menace is still there. And (if this makes you go see it) you see him in the best combat you’ll ever see him in in the movies. Coolest scene ever.
The cast was excellent; Felicity Jones was a real standout. K-2SO is my new favorite droid in the Star Wars canon. I’m sorry R2 and 3PO; I’ve betrayed you. But really. He’s hilarious and great. This movie was a worth addition to the Star Wars saga; it brought a feel of war and loss and the struggle of normal characters with no real powers to a saga that has been mostly about powerful Jedi and Sith.