Update: December 14, 2016 Dragonlord’s Review of ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (No Spoilers) Bottom Line: The real Suicide Squad of 2016, Rogue One is a respectable but underwhelming addition to the Star Wars lore. The first of many Star Wars anthology movies to come, Rogue One tells the story of how the Rebel Alliance acquired the design schematics for the Galactic Empire’s Death Star and focuses on the Rebel heroes who stole the plans. One of the best thing about this prequel is it finally gives the fans a satisfying explanation on why the Empire put a flaw or weakness in the designs of the Death Star. Rogue One is entertaining and provides enough action and spectacle but falls short on pacing, casting and characterization. After the prologue, the succeeding introduction scenes are clunky and all over the place. It’s like they didn’t trust the audience to understand the story through character’s exposition and had to show them the actual scenes. The film finally settles down and finds its groove after the prison transport break. There's a lot of Easter Eggs spread throughout the film for Star Wars fans to enjoy. Some of the characters are a bit bland and underdeveloped. The lead character, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), feels like Rey lite. Lucasfilm would have been better off gender swapping Jyn since she’s too similar to Rey from The Force Awakens. And when Jyn finally takes command, the actress just doesn’t have the charisma or leadership quality to make it convincing. Similar to when he was miscast as Cassanova in the 2015 Amazon pilot, Diego Luna is unfit in the role of the Rebel Alliance intelligence officer Cassian Andor. A different and manlier actor would have been more suitable and would have had better chemistry with Jyn. The two standouts among the new characters are the blind Force monk Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and the Rebel droid K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk). Both were memorable and had a few crowd-pleasing moments. Jian Wen as Baze Malbus was an interesting character but not fully developed. Riz Ahmed as the former Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook was mostly forgettable. Introduced first in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker) was fascinating and would have improved the group dynamic significantly if he joined Jyn’s team. Based on the previews, fans are immediately drawn to Imperial Director Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn). He does look amazing in his cool white Imperial costume. Unfortunately, this villain is a dud. He doesn’t do anything worthwhile. It was nice to see Grand Moff Tarkin again (though the CGI facial rendering was not totally convincing and became too distracting) but ultimately it was a bad idea since he undermines Krennic’s authority constantly. Rogue One finally clicks during the last 30 minutes with the daring mission of stealing the Death Star plans. It’s high-stakes rollercoaster drama filled with tension and emotional moments. DC Films recently released a feature film about a group of expendables on a deadly mission but this band of rebels in Rogue One are the real suicide squad. And I saved the best for last. Though he only appeared in a handful of minutes, Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) was outstanding. There’s a memorable Vader scene that exemplifies how badass and terrifying he is and will no doubt go down as a Star Wars classic moment. Rating: 7/10 Spoiler: spoiler thoughts and musings Two of my favorite and spectacular action pieces were the rebels escaping from the destruction of Jedha and the other one was the rebel ship driving a Star Destroyer in ramming another Star Destroyer and in turn destroy the Shield Gate. Though it didn't really affect my review of the film, there are two scenes at the beginning where I was kinda' annoyed with. The first is Jyn's mom going back in a futile attempt to save her husband even though they've probably ran their escape plan scenario a dozen times. The second is Cassian's informant overacting and shouting their treasonous plans in a place infested with patrolling stormtroopers. I feel the characters needed more development and more interactions with each other in order for their deaths to have a bigger impact with the audience. And in order to do that, some scenes need to be cut. I think I've come up with a solution. Keep the prologue with Galyn Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) but erased everything afterwards until Jyn's prison transfer breakout. Most of those early scenes were unnecessary (Bodhi and Cassian's introductions for instance). In the movie, the characters quickly bonded during their stay in Jedha. I felt like it was too forced or too rushed. Another alternative would be the group being captured by local gangsters. The team would be forced to work together to escape and fight their way out. This is a better and more believable bonding experience. Delete the scene where Bodhi's mind was probed. Bodhi should be lucid when meeting Baze for the first time. Since Baze hates Imperial people, have the two constantly be hostile against each other. Friction among the group early on is essential. Remove the scene where the rebels visit the planet Endue where Galyn is being kept. Change the story where he is already dead in the present and the hologram Jyn received was the last message he sent before he is killed. With the planet Endue scene gone, this frees up a lot of screen time for more character development.