Knee-jerk review: "Rogue One"

1. Best Star Wars movie since 1980's The Empire Strikes Back.
2. Much of the geekdom is up in arms about the CGI recreation of the late actor Peter Cushing, resurrected here to again play Grand Moff Tarkin.  Film nerds (who do love to complain, thereby showing off their own brilliance, you see) are complaining about how horrible the animation is.  We expected some kind of horrible Polar Express-level phoniness.  But to us, the CGI looked pretty flawless.  Ms. Fry had no idea the Tarkin character wasn't played by a living actor.  A lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.
3. It's about as satisfying and big a climax as you'd want in a movie.  We love it when the heroes' plans go wrong in as many ways as possible, forcing them to frantically improvise.  James Cameron's movies (e.g. Aliens, Terminator 2, The Abyss) are the gold standard.  Rogue One aspires to that high bar.  Nothing is easy for our rebels.
4. Add tropical paradise planet Scarif to the list of awesome Star Wars planets-with-memorable-weather (see also: desert plant Tattooine, ice planet Hoth, swamp planet Degobah, volcano planet Mustafar, rainforest planet Endor).
5. A pretty genius premise, don't you think?  The whole franchise begins with the "Help us, Obi Wan" hologram from Princess Leia and the stolen Death Star plans.  Why not rewind to see how those plans got stolen?
6. Also bonus points for offering a completely logical explanation for the Death Star's exhaust port weakness.  It only took 40 years to get one.
7. Star Wars may appear to be simple black and white, good versus evil allegories, but there are always political complexities baked in (the prequel trilogy was essentially a treatise on how dictatorships arise).  One man's freedom-fighting rebellion, after all, is another man's terrorist insurgency.  It's all relative.  Fascinating here that the Rebel Alliance looks down on "extremists" like Forest Whitaker's Saw Gerrera, whose followers like to throw bombs into crowds.
8. Captain Cassian Andor.  If that's not a classic Star Wars name, we don't know what is.  We're sure by now you've seen the Star Wars Name Generator.
9. It always comes down to disabling a forcefield, doesn't it?
10. What happens to two Star Destroyers may be one of the coolest things we've ever seen.
11. If we had to find a flaw, it may be the characters.  Compared to the exuberant charisma of the characters introduced last year in The Force Awakens (Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron - another perfect Star Wars name, Kylo Ren), the new characters here are a little limp.  On one hand, it's nice that Diego Luna and Felicity Jones' characters are platonic no-nonense colleagues, but a little chemistry between them might have added another layer to their interactions.
12. Also a little vague on what turns Jones from reluctant participant to a rah-rah leader.
13. Overall, though, it's pretty fantastic, but it's also quite dark.  It's a war film.  Lots of good guys die.  Lots of innocent people die.
14. You'll love the way this movie clearly ends moments before the opening shot of 1977's Star Wars.
15. It's the Star Wars movie you've been looking for.  Move along.

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