A review of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Nearly 40 years have passed since the release of the classic space opera “Star Wars: A New Hope,” and yet the mystique of Star Wars is still strong within our culture. While part of the Star Wars franchise moves forward with sequels like “The Force Awakens” (2015), the separate anthology series will revisit the past. The first film in this lineup, “Rogue One,” was directed by Gareth Edwards and transports viewers back to when Lord Vader controlled the galaxy.

From the opening sequence of the film, “Rogue One” holds the audience close with captivating characters and strong direction. Felicity Jones stands at the forefront of a wonderfully diverse cast of talent that includes Diego Luna, Forest Whitaker, Ben Mendelsohn and Donnie Yen.

Jones stars as Jyn Erso, the daughter of a research scientist who placed a significant flaw within Vader’s massive weapon, the Death Star. Jyn takes a small team of rebel soldiers to steal the Death Star’s plans and give the rebellion a chance at defeating Vader’s Imperial Army. Along the way, Jyn and her team make sacrifices and discover that “rebellions are built on hope.”

“Rogue One” is as adventurous as it is fun, and is a visual spectacle for children who are new to the franchise and adults who are all-too-familiar with the Star Wars universe. While plenty of critics found “The Force Awakens” to be a safe, Hollywood product, “Rogue One” takes risks that it is rightfully awarded for.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars