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THURSDAY REVIEW OF ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY

Large Poster for ROGUE ONE: A Star Wars Story YEAR: 2016
There were those who, in agreement that the prequels were awful, only felt completely cheated by the first two and then got miraculously rejuvenated by REVENGE OF THE SITH, and how it "Tied everything together." Others felt the last was the worst, especially because Darth Vader became the galaxy's Adolf Hitler when his wife died in a dream... Nooooooo!

So then, ROGUE ONE is obviously intended as a genuine bridge... a prequel for the originals and a sequel for the prequels... and it does a pretty good job despite the first thirty minutes either expecting us to already know the characters we're supposed to root for, or giving us very little to be involved in and/or to cheer about... Plus the fact, there's a strange feeling that imposters have infiltrated our beloved landscape, including the meeting room and X-Wing hangar on the forest planet Yavin... And the very, very beginning... before the gigantic STAR WARS hits the screen (without a scroll-story this time)... is one of the dullest prologues ever, lacking kickstart action and utterly failing to serve the purpose of getting us revved for what's to come. But then, after a little while, something happens...

Teaser Poster for Rogue One
Even after a Mos Eisley style standoff with our heroes fighting a horde of Stormtroopers (where a few more good guys are added including a blind Asian Martial Artist and his own faithful human Chewbacca) fails to completely pull us into who these particular ragtag rebel's rebels are, and what they're all about, at one point, after the formidable Death Star proves its worth by targeting a city, the pulpy stylings of the original trilogy are stirred up into a creative little adventure and, best yet, the purpose for the entire movie.... to get the plans that can destroy the Empire's "Planet Killer"... has a twist, or two.

RogueScore: ***1/2
At first, GODZILLA director Gareth Edwards moves the pace at a clunky, confusing fashion (way too many planets are revealed at once, as are character names we know nothing about) until this one-shot "Star Wars Story" brings us back to basics, including those supercool At-Ats (what we old-timers used to call Imperial Walkers)... And while THE FORCE AWAKENS was both fan and critic despised for copying the 1977 original STAR WARS, the ending here is also extremely familiar but there's a lot more at stake, and the three leads, Felicity Jones and Diego Luna with their own uppity and sarcastic C3PO in the form of an Imperial Robot programmed with a heart and soul, have a lot more to do while, on the ground, the action is like that of a "Cover me!" World War II flick and, above, one of the best interstellar dogfights takes place. Making ROGUE ONE not only a strong good, but it's a motion picture that takes time to pick up and improve. So not only is a second viewing recommended — to get down all the nuances, it's crucial. Who knows, perhaps that was the intention all along. (PS: While FORCE AWAKENS built the characters-to-love from the get-go, this one's more about what they do... They're more vivid in one and ragged-dark and mysterious in the other... You can say that ROGUE ONE is the FEAR THE WALKING DEAD of the STAR WARS franchise.)
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