Rogue One tells the back story that occurred immediately before the original Star Wars movie, about how the rebels acquired the plans to the Death Star. It’s a kind of conscious effort to knit together the original movie with the end of the three prequels, so we see older characters from the prequels, as well as characters from the original Star Wars film. (Keep an eye out for a quick glimpse of R2D2 and C3PO, as well as the guys who are primed for a fight in the cantina at Mos Eisley.)
Rogue One not a great movie, in my view, but it’s definitely worth seeing if you’re a Star Wars buff. The film is choppy, as if the goal was to show us as many different planets, moons, and other locations in the galaxy as possible, and the plot is, at times, a confusing jumble. It’s got some memorable characters — I particularly liked the hulking, sarcastic robot turned gunslinger who is a key part of the rebel group, and the blind devotee to the teachings of the Force — but the overall tone is very dark. We are seeing the cruel, barbaric Empire in full flower in this film. And we also get a peek at Darth Vader at the height of his powers, before he becomes conflicted by his interaction with Luke Skywalker — the adherent of the Dark Side who can brutally cut through a dozen rebel fighters with a few gestures and slashes of his light saber.
The movie uses some kind of computer program to recreate characters from the original film — like the evil Governor Tarkin, and Princess Leia in her white Star Wars outfit. The technology is vastly improved, but you still feel like you are looking at a computer animation, rather than a real person. It’s kind of fascinating and creepy at the same time.
One other comment: if you’re going, don’t waste your time with the 3D version, which is what I saw. I didn’t see any reason why there is a 3D version. There’s nothing hurled at the screen, and no overly dramatic vistas. Unless you like sitting in a theatre wearing a cheap pair of glasses, I’d head to a regular screening.