As Disney’s new blank chequebook hits cinemas, there’s a sense of optimism around Rogue One.

The Force Awakens put to rest any and all fears the masses may have had lingering from George Lucas’ toy commercial prequels.

But along with Episode VIII out next year, the Han Solo spin-off, Episode IX, rumoured Boba Fett and Obi-Wan spin offs, and of course Rogue One, there is a genuine worry amongst fans that it’s going to end up becoming a case of overkill.

Luckily Gareth Edwards has given the utmost care and attention to every facet, delivering a film that not only appeases the most devoted of basement dwellers, but the new post-Force Awakens fan base.

As the Galactic Empire continues its stranglehold on the Galaxy, there are rumblings of a new planet sized space station with infinite destructive power. Step forward outlaw Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), Rebel Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and co. who band together in an attempt to save Jyn’s father (Mads Mikkelsen) and capture the design plans for the Empire’s new super weapon.

The ensemble cast throw themselves into their respective roles, giving us a diverse band of rebels who play off each other to great effect, especially Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen who shine together as a Chinese C-3PO and R2-D2.

Jones and Luna do a great job leading from the front while the villains of the piece offer genuine menace and threat, especially Ben Mendelsohn, who brilliantly slivers from scene to scene with such malevolence as Director Krennic.

Out of all the cast, credit needs to go to everyone behind K-2SO (especially Alan Tudyk), an imperial robot whose had his memory blanked, who manages to steal every scene with his dry wit and his hopeless nature.

However, although appreciated in Force Awakens due to the gap between films, there’s slightly too much fan service throughout Rogue One. It becomes a distraction to anyone who is Star Wars literate and ends up taking you out of the experience.

Some work and are required, such as largely impressive digital inclusion of a certain actor that is sadly no longer with us – although the voice is slightly off at times.

Darth Vader also returns to the fold and it’s great to see (and hear) him post-whiny-Anakin-Skywalker-prequel-phase. He’s back to his no-nonsense, evil best (or worst) and boy does he know how to take names here.

Blue milk and one of our heroes having “a bad feeling about this” are expected, but things like Jyn bumping into a couple of characters that may not like her are amusing but unnecessary.

Rogue One is at its strongest when it deals with the matter at hand and concentrates on the bigger picture.

The best thing Disney has brought to the series, along with getting back to basics and using old-school methods of filmmaking, is the sense of realism and threat that has been injected into the series.

You genuinely worry that any of the characters are not long for this galaxy and the palpable violence adds to that worry, as well as upping the excitement.

The score is a bit of a let down as Michael Giacchino has the frankly unenviable task of being the first person to tackle a series mentally ingrained with the music of John Williams.

Many of Williams’ cues and arrangements remain, but it does lack the true gusto and grandeur you associate with the franchise.

Despite it needing another run through the typewriter, the script is it strength, taking more chances then the prequels managed across three films.

A wonderful mix of the old and the new, what it does lacks in story it makes up for in character, great performances from all involved and pure emotion. This is definitely the rogue of the series: heart breaking, uplifting and most importantly fun.

Not to mention, it’s nice to finally get an answer for that putting-an-exhaust-port-on-the-Death-Star plot hole.

Movie Review 2: Rogue One - A Star Wars Story
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