The first of what is presumably many to come of Star Wars spinoff films explains the structural defects of the Death Star that made destruction so simple in the original film and the plot to steal the plans that allowed the climax to happen.The story follows Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), the daughter of scientist Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) who helped construct the Death Star and a rebel that is almost even too rebellious for the Rebellion. Jyn is freed from prison to help enact a plan to discover a message that has been delivered by an Empire defector, the pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed).
In order to find the pilot, Jyn teams up with Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and the droid K-2S0 (voiced by Alan Tudyk) to seek out her old mentor Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker). The story bounces around from planet to planet creating an even larger galaxy that fans always assumed was out there but now can see and apply names. The shots of the various planets are beautiful and Gareth Edwards does a great job directing these expansive shots like he did with the Godzilla remake.
One spectacular awe-inspiring planet was Jedha and the holy city dedicated to the Jedi and the force, one last bastion of the fight against the rebellion. In Jedha, Saw's rebellion fights the Empire's cargo ships who are mining the crystals that were used to create lightsabers and are now being utilized in the awful Death Star beam that can destroy planets. At the head of the construction is Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), a villainous director who is shot down by Grand Moff Tarkin (digitally revived Peter Cushing but acted by Guy Henry) and a force-wielding Darth Vader. The Sith Lord's return is one of the most exciting parts in an action packed ending.
Back in Jedha, Jyn encounters Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen), a blind believer in the force who uses a staff to take out stormtroopers and dodges blaster bolts. Assisting Chirrut is my favorite character Baze Maibus (Wen Jiang) who has a machine gun-like blaster and takes out loads of stormtroopers. They barely escape the planet as the destructive power of the Death Star is tested.
The movie takes a while to set up all the different plot points and tie them into the original film, but the finale is amazing and fun to watch. This story is worth the canon and contains some of the most gorgeous shots of the galaxy. I enjoyed seeing an expansion on the story I grew up loving and had always wanted to know more about. It may be the dazzle of a new film as The Force Awakens sheen wore off after several viewing but I think Rogue One will hold up as an impressive film to come out of this week 2016 year for films.