The first thing to say about Rogue One is that it might be the most visually splendid Star Wars movie to date -- with its mist-covered mountains, its tsunamis of dust and fire, its X-wing fighters blazing through rainswept nights. The second thing to say: For all its vivid visual imagination, the film left me almost totally cold. And I say that as a man who has cried actual tears at more than one Star Wars movie.
This entry has been positioned as a prequelish one-off about the efforts to steal the plans for the first Death Star -- a premise that fits snugly between Episodes 3 and 4 but which largely avoids the soap opera of the Skywalker family. We follow loner outlaw Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), whose scientist father (Mads Mikkelsen) was taken years ago by Imperial official Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) to work on the Empire's new "planet killer" space station. Jyn is tracked down by the rebels after Imperial defector Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) brings a message from her father, which reveals a vulnerability in the Death Star. Jyn heads off to find her father, aided by Bodhi, spy Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his wisecracking droid K2SO (Alan Tudyk). Also tagging along are blind monk Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and his faithful, armed companion -- seriously, "faithful" and "armed" about covers the role -- Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen).
Not unlike a videogame, each set piece seems designed to get us one step closer to an outcome that is little in doubt. First you get to the secret lair, then you get the plans, then you get to the switch so you can transmit the plans, and so on.