Rogue One is a rollicking, action-packed romp that dovetails neatly into the sprawling, otherworldly opus writ large by George Lucas.
The visionary film-maker came close to self-exterminating his elegant handiwork with the abomination of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace.
Thankfully this prequel, under the assured captaincy of director Gareth Edwards, which unfolds shortly before Episode IV – A New Hope, learns from mistakes of the past and isn’t a mindless slave to technological wizardry.
There are dazzling visual effects and breathtaking battle sequences, including cute nods to previous films in the series.
Scriptwriters Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy preach to the converted with lovingly recycled lines of dialogue – “I’ve got a bad feeling about this…” – and even repurposed old footage.
However, the Force isn’t perpetually strong with Rogue One.
A disappointingly linear plot occasionally clunks and grinds like an AT-AT combat walker with a rusty knee joint, and characters’ heartfelt diatribes about the corruptibility of morals in the white hot crucible of war only land glancing blows.
Felicity Jones is a plucky heroine, issuing the film’s central battle cry built on the unswerving belief that “rebellions are built on hope”, and Luna is a solid foil in every respect.
Edwards conjures some magnificent action sequences that look spectacular in 3D, and Michael Giacchino’s score nods affectionately to the stirring themes of John Williams from many moons ago.
Unlike Lucas’ hellish prequels, this is a step back in time that signals a bright future.