I’m happy to report that the first stand-alone entry in the Star Wars franchise, Rogue One, is a surprisingly entertaining affair that will not disappoint the die-hard fans whose world turns with each successive release of a new film in the series. It’s also rousing enough to keep casual fans like myself intrigued, especially during its last half. Given the stories of the film’s production woes that trickled out last summer it wasn’t a clear that this would be the case. The end result is a film that, for me, will certainly land a spot in my pick of the top five films of the franchise even if can’t best the first two entries in the Star Wars series.

For those who are unaware, Rogue One basically bridges the gap between the last of creator George Lucas’s ill-received prequels and the original Star Wars film from nearly forty years ago.

To give you an idea of how closely the film follows the Star Wars mythology, Rogue One ends with the opening scene from the original Star Wars at its conclusion. Along the way the film manages to carve its own unique path while also throwing in nods to previous entries and characters in the beloved series. For instance, the iconic villain, Darth Vader, gets some of his best screen time in the entire series and this is only one of the careful throwbacks to the already well-established Star Wars universe.

Storywise, the film concerns the efforts of the Empire to build the Death Star and the attempts of the rebels to prevent that plan from fully coming to fruition. The rebels are lead by Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), whose father (Mads Mikkelsen) was crucial in the development of the Death Star. Jyn was separated from her father as a child but receives a message via hologram that sends her on her quest. From there she assembles a rag tag group to assist her in her mission, the most interesting of which is a blind warrior/monk (Donnie Yen) who is very strong in the force, but also includes (surprise!) a droid voiced by Alan Tudyk and an intelligence agent (Diego Luna).

Rogue One admittedly works best during its final hour after the premise has been set up and the audience can sit back and go along for the ride. This will be welcome news to those who only go to the movies to be entertained. If entertainment is what you’re after then hopping on board with Rogue One is a good way to go.

Photo: Diego Luna and Felicity Jones in Rogue One

Questions or comments? Write Adam at [email protected].