Lucasfilm and Disney have released the first in their Star Wars Anthology series with “Rogue One.”  Taking place before the events of “Episode IV: A New Hope,” the film tells the story of how a band of rebels came into possession of the Galactic Empire’s plans for their ultimate weapon: the Death Star.

The story begins with Imperial Director Orson Krennic seeking out Galen Erso to complete the design on the Empire’s ultimate weapon.  When Erso’s wife is killed in a brief skirmish with Krennic and his troops, their daughter Jyn is placed into hiding and into the care of Saw Gerrera (a Clone Wars veteran).  Years later the Rebel Alliance seeks out Jyn in hopes of finding her father.  Now with a group consisting of a rebel intelligence officer (Cassian Andor), a mercenary (Baze Malbus), a blind warrior who believes in the Force (Chirrut Imwe), an Imperial defector (Bohdi Rook), and a reprogrammed Imperial droid (K-2SO); Jyn Erso must now find the Empire’s plans to their ultimate weapon and deliver them to the Rebel Alliance before it’s too late.

“Rogue One” is one of the most exciting and fulfilling films in the Star Wars series.  It really helps to fill the gaps and do what the prequels tried to do in 3 movies.  The film has a darker feel, and the battle scenes feel gritter than previous films.  There is definitely more of a feeling of a war movie than a space opera, which helps to distinguish it from the main episodes of the Star Wars Universe.

The action in the film is top notch.  As mentioned before, the battles feel a lot gritter than previous films.  That helps to show the early years of a rebellion just beginning to take hold and finding its place.  However, once the final battle takes place we see the Rebel Alliance we all know.  The audience is also taken to many new planets that have not been seen in previous films.

The characters in the film are all portrayed strongly.  Each one plays their party equally well and gives off a sense of hope for the alliance, but at the same time hesitation as they are thrown into something they have never dealt with.  The Empire is also portrayed as something to fear, as they seek ruling through fear and intimidation.  A few of the main characters are seen to keep a connection to the main movies.  We also see a portrayal of Grand Moff Tarkin, brought convincingly back through the wonders of CG technology, that is just as cruel hearted as he was portrayed by the late Peter Cushing.  Darth Vader makes a few appearances as well, his presence fits well into the film.  We do not see the conflicted character from later in the series, but one who has fully embraced the dark side of the Force and will stop at nothing to achieve his goals.  There is also plenty of fan service with some very familiar characters spread out through the film.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is everything not only a Star Wars fan, but fans of movie going in general would want in a film.  There is plenty of action, suspense, and drama to keep you in your seat.  Also, you don’t have to see the original films beforehand to enjoy.

The film is rated PG-13 and is available in standard, 3D, and IMAX 3D formats.

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Lucasfilm and Disney have released the first in their Star Wars Anthology series with 'Rogue One.'  Taking place before the events of 'Episode IV: A New Hope,' the film tells the story of how a band of rebels came into possession of the Galactic Empire's plans for their ultimate...