Rogue One is a thrilling and enjoyable addition to the Star Wars universe.
With enough nods and references to lead us into the original trilogy and satisfy the Star Wars faithful but confident enough with its brand new characters to stand alone as its own thing.

It's a little slow to get started but once the mission is under way it hits the ground running.
Gareth Edwards does a fine job in keeping the action flowing when it matters without sacrificing the emotional journey its characters are on.

The slightly dirty, lived-in aesthetic of the original is slavishly recreated along with the 70's costumes and haircuts (just check out the chunky sideburns and moustaches among the Rebel Alliance). Full credit to the filmmakers for seamlessly integrating that retro look with today's more advanced special effects.

A highlight is the film's final third which sees Edwards emulating the original trilogy's deft juggling act of cutting between space battles, ground assaults and characters running around corridors at the same time without losing clarity and purpose. Plus the final Darth Vader moment is probably among the best of the series for that character.

Though state of the art effects would be nothing without an engaging group of characters to keep us involved and it's here that the film really delivers. A great cast is headed by an impressive Felicity Jones, with solid performances from Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Riz Ahmed, Forest Whitaker and Mads Mikkelsen. My own personal favourites however were the plain-speaking reprogrammed Imperial droid voiced by Alan Tudyk (Tudyk's own fears that he might end up being this film's Jar Jar Binks are swiftly put to bed) and the formidable and surprisingly touching fighting team of Donnie Yen* and Wen Jiang. Overall it's refreshing to see a sci-fi film that doesn't have to rely on a variety of alien faces to show and explore issues of diversity (if the Trump supporters that started that incredibly dumb boycott campaign on the strength of the trailer actually went against their own demands and saw the whole film they'd be apoplectic).

Ultimately Edwards has fashioned an impressive and exciting film that combines the familiar space opera we love with a tense and gritty Dirty Dozen style war adventure.

See it on the biggest screen you can, then see it again.

By Kevin Knapman

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (12A)

2h 14m

Gareth Edward
Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Forest Whitaker

UK Release: Friday 16th December 2016