‘Rogue One’ reviews: ‘Star Wars’ is back with ‘beauty and terror’ & ‘the euphoric joy of discovery’

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opened on Friday, December 16, continuing the franchise comeback that started with 2015’s critically acclaimed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” This spinoff film, a standalone story set in-between “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” and “Episode IV: A New Hope,” doesn’t have quite the acclaim of last year’s entry in the franchise — as of this writing it has 66 on MetaCritic and 85% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to “Force Awakens” with 81 on MetaCritic and 92% freshness — but director Gareth Edwards, marking only his third feature film at the helm, has made “a worthy entry in the franchise.”

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The story follows Jyn Erso (Oscar nominee Felicity Jones), who leads a group of Rebel spies on a mission to the steal the plans for the Death Star. The film takes back in time to an earlier chapter of the “Star Wars” saga, but it does so with multicultural cast that includes Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Donnie Yen and Forest Whitaker, paying “tribute to the past even as it embraces the promise of a more united Hollywood future.”

Several critics note the film’s successful blend of “innovation and nostalgia,” demonstrating “the euphoric joy of discovery that caught us up in the adventurous fun nearly four decades ago,” while Edwards fills it with enough “beauty and terror to mark it as the work of an artist.”

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Check out some of the reviews below, and join the “Star Wars” discussion in our forums.

Justin Chang (Los Angeles Times): “Predictably enough, some naysayers on the political right have already urged a boycott of this movie’s multicultural utopia — a development that only reinforces the anti-fascist subtext that has, like the Force itself, been with the series all along. In short, ‘Rogue One’ seeks to take us back but also move us forward, to pay tribute to the past even as it embraces the promise of a more united Hollywood future.”

Sara Stewart (New York Post): “‘Rogue One’ is definitive proof: ‘Star Wars’ is back, baby. Much like last year’s ‘The Force Awakens,’ it rights so many wrongs perpetrated by that loathsome trio of films from the late ’90s/early aughts. Despite being merely ‘A Star Wars Story,’ which makes it sound flimsy and fan-fictiony, this is a worthy entry in the franchise, from its formidable heroine (Felicity Jones) to its canny blend of innovation and nostalgia, of human-scale drama and judicious special effects.”

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Matt Zoller Seitz (RogerEbert.com): “‘Rogue One’ was directed by Gareth Edwards, whose 2014 ‘Godzilla’ was one of the most daringly conceived blockbusters of recent years, so much so that some viewers found it frustrating and pretentious. This one is more conventional … But the film still has enough moments of beauty and terror to mark it as the work of an artist rather than a glorified craftsman.”

Peter Travers (Rolling Stone): “Taking place just before the events of the first released ‘Star Wars’ movie in 1977, this spin-off/prequel has the same primitive, lived-in, emotional, loopy, let’s-put-on-a-show spirit that made us fall in love with the original trilogy … the damn thing is alive and bursting with the euphoric joy of discovery that caught us up in the adventurous fun nearly four decades ago.”

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