When the "#Star Wars" franchise was revived, it became known that not every future movie would be part of a trilogy, or the canonical lore that George Lucas developed. Some films would simply provide backstories for well-known characters, or perhaps delve off into their own narrative world. "#Rogue One" doesn't entirely fall in the latter category, but it provides hope for what future anthology films may hold.

About 'Rogue One'

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" is the eighth feature film in George Lucas' longstanding universe. The first standalone entry, this movie was directed by Gareth Edwards ("Godzilla") and was released on December 16, 2016.

Galen Erso is kidnapped from his wife and daughter to help create a new weapon for the empire: the Death Star. Years later, daughter Jyn Erso unintentionally becomes involved with a rebellion that doesn't yet know about the Death Star, but knows they're in serious danger. With a ragtag crew of survivors and mercenaries, Erso must command her crew, known as Rogue One, to steal the plans to the weapon and give the rebellion hope for survival.

A 'Star Wars' story

The most noteworthy aspect in the acting comes from the casting of a powerful female as the lead in a "Star Wars" tale. Felicity Jones ("The Theory of Everything") seems perfectly cast to lead the Rogue One squadron. She's brave, fierce, and isn't afraid to get her hands dirty. Unfortunately, she suffers from the same affliction as everyone else in the movie: lack of character development.

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Without obtusely spoiling anything, there may not have been the feeling of a need to develop characters - this movie takes place between the two "Star Wars" trilogies but the main characters aren't in either one. But plenty of standalone films see a character move from Point A to Point B, and outside of literal plot progression, not much of that was going on here.

Most of the acting was adequate for the movie, however, with the exception of Forest Whitaker as extremist Saw Gerrera. It's unclear if the producers of the movie told him to act unhinged in a cartoonish way or if he undertook that decision himself, but he needed to not be part of "Rogue One."

The story elements of the movie were exciting and entertaining, just like all of its "Star Wars" predecessors. There was concern that knowing the results of the plot of the film beforehand would be problematic to the viewing experience, but it only enhanced the drama of trying to figure out how those results would be attained.

It was also helpful to have descriptions and names of new planets placed on title screens as the movie jumped from place to place.

Sure, the three main planets the audience were introduced in "Rogue One" to (Jedha, Eadu, Scarif) look awfully familiar (Tatooine, Kamino, Kashyyyk, respectively), but each one has a slight intricacy that makes it a worthy addition to the planet map.

For fans of "Star Wars," there are plenty of little nods in "Rogue One," from the inclusion of certain characters and the shot on Yavin IV to cameos and even the opening crawl, which didn't exist but almost looked like it did due to the opening shot of a planet's rings, which almost made it look like it was blurred out, a sign of moving forward. Sure, the inclusion of CGI stand-ins for the deceased actor who portrayed Grand Moff Tarkin and a young Carrie Fisher were creepy, but the intent was decent - probably shouldn't do that again, though.

Overall, "Rogue One" is a fun new entry into the "Star Wars" universe that should generate plenty of interest in future franchise standalone films.

Movie Rating: A- #MovieReview