CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Let's get the geek stuff out of the way right off the top: Yes, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" works as a stand-alone film--but it's also a legitimate part of the "Star Wars" canon, with some great touches sure to delight the hardcore fans.
This is a rousing, fast-paced, action-packed, spectacular-looking thrill ride with spunky and spirited performances from a thoroughly likable cast of characters, both human and CGI.
"Rogue One" takes place just before the events of the original "Star Wars: A New Hope."
Felicity Jones kills it as Jyn Erso, the smart, spunky and tough leader of a ragtag bunch of rebels going up against the oppressive Galactic Empire.
There's a wonderful, multi-ethnic cast, including:
Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, a dashing Intelligence officer who just might remind you a little bit of Han Solo.
Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrara, an extremist rebel.
Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rock, an Empire pilot who has defected.
Donnie Yen as a blind warrior-monk who believes in the Force with all of his being.
And big props to Alan Tudyk for voicing K-2S0, a Galactic Empire security droid re-programmed to serve the Alliance as Cassian's sidekick. This lanky, wisecracking, independent-"minded" droid is one of the most endearing characters in "Rogue One" and hands-down the funniest.
The special effects, production design, costumes and editing: are all first-rate.
"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" isn't quite as great as the first "Star Wars" movie or "The Empire Strikes Back," but it's a beautifully filmed adventure with crackling good humor, likable main characters, some genuinely heart-tugging moments--and oh man are the geeks gonna love the twists and surprises.
VERDICT: SEE IT!