Whether you’re a Star Wars fan or not, the main thing to know when going to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is that it differs vastly from the rest of the series, while holding subtle feelings of nostalgia for fans. The aforementioned differences shine through in style, tone, and story. While the original Star Wars films are modeled as a Space Western series, Rogue One goes for more of a style reminiscent of World War II films. Abandoning beloved lightsabers for rifles and grenades, the final act of Rogue One has about as much in common with Saving Private Ryan as it does with the original trilogy. The tone of Rogue One is dark because the film focuses on the grey area between good and evil. The moral differences between the Rebel Alliance and the Empire that were so cleanly cut in the original film are clouded and complicated.
This story itself is much darker than the rest of the Star Wars series. This film is the first to fully acknowledge a fact that has gone overlooked by the previous films: wars are violent and gruesome with longstanding consequences. For a film in a sci-fi series, Rogue One has an element of realism that strikes a chord with modern audiences. The main complaint I have against Rogue One is that at times the characters can feel one-dimensional. This occurs because it is an ensemble film and most characters don’t have enough screentime to develop. With the exception of Jyn Erso, the main character, it is hard to understand the motivations of the characters. At multiple points in the film, it feels as though the only motivation for an action was the screenwriter trying to get to the next battle scene. For a spin-off/prequel, Rogue One is strong, despite it’s flaws. It is visually stunning, thematically thought provoking, and shocking.
My main problem with most prequels is that oftentimes they fail to build on the original content. Rogue One is an exception; without spoiling the movie, I can tell you that watching this movie will change the way you view the original Star Wars trilogy.