“I’ll be there for you. The Captain said I had to.”

In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key even in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.

Ever since Disney acquired the rights to the Star Wars franchise, and began to produce more movies set in the Star Wars universe continuing the story of the space opera set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, we’ve known that there was going to be a pattern where there would be a movie set in the Star Wars saga proper, then followed by a kind of side story to fill the gaps between the long-awaited Star Wars movies. Since Episode VII dropped last year, and while we wait for Episode VIII in another year, this year we got the side story of Rogue One.

Rogue One tells the tale of how the plans for the Death Star managed to get stolen and in the hands of the Rebellion in Episode IV. Going into this, I was expecting a decent enough movie, but something that, since it wasn’t a full-on Star Wars episode that features none of the main characters, maybe wouldn’t have been given the same kind of attention as those would. Fortunately, I was way off about that.

I’ve decided to go with a Spoiler Free review of Rogue One. I think the reasoning behind it would be self-evident. Nerd rage is never a good thing to endure. Anyway…

The story of Rogue One takes place pretty much immediately before the events of A New Hope. And by that, I mean that you can edit out the end credits to Rogue One and edit out the opening crawl to A New Hope, splice them both end to end, and it would flow together continuously. Construction on the Death Star has finished up, and the Empire is itching to take its new toy on some test runs. The Rebellion was informed of said weapon, and enlists the help of a young lady to try and get her former mentor to help out with getting intel. When that goes south, and when it looks like the Alliance is about to crumble, it’s up to this scrappy young lady and a group of scruffy-looking Nerf herders (and one reprogrammed Imperial droid with some serious gallows humor) to sneak into the facilities where the Death Star plans are kept and try and get them to the Rebel faction.

Rogue One is another example of why it was a very, very good thing that Disney took over the franchise. While this was really just a supplemental side story, the movie was nonetheless made in the same quality as if it was one of the main Star Wars movie. The story and the visuals were great, the characters were engaging, and while the tone is a very dark one (it brings out the “war” aspect of the Star Wars theme, making this the Dirty Dozen, or Inglorious Bastards of the franchise), there are some lighter spots, mostly with the awesomeness that is K-2SO. The movie is also doesn’t shy away from presenting the members of the Rebellion as having a bit of tarnish on their shining armor. And finally, in case you haven’t read any of the other reviews, Rogue One re-establishes Darth Vader as the intergalactic badass once again. I got chills.

On the parts that I didn’t really find all that great, though…well, let’s just say there’s a couple of instances where CGI was very much used to resurrect the dead for one, and de-age for another. While these were way better renderings than was done on, say, Tron: Legacy, there still was that Uncanny Valley effect that was a tad off-putting. Also, there were a couple of cameos that served pretty much nothing but fan wankery, but whatever. Minor quibble.

Overall, Rogue One could have been just a quickie side story in the Star Wars cannon (kind of like those two Ewok TV movies back in the 1980s), but instead it turned out to be a Star Wars story (see what I did, there?) of the same high quality of the others, something that ranks near the high-water mark which is The Empire Strikes Back. Highly recommended that you see this in the theaters while you can.