“Rogue One” reaps the benefits of being a spinoff adventure without the cumbersome expectations of a sequel to follow it, despite box office success. These rebel fighters are refreshingly subtle and ordinary, not written to be overly heroic or high principled. They are average and believable people acting as one would expect in the face of endless tragedy and war–adapting cynicism and despair, yet pressing on for duty and frivolous hope.

The ties to the original saga are similarly done with a light touch; spot characters or settings here and there with genuine relevance, but not shoved down your throat. Exploring a minor element of the original trilogy allows this story to abandon the need for epic overtones in favor of enjoyable battling around the galaxy, including the flexibility of expending characters to further give into a realism that necessarily escapes a regular cast.

While “Rogue One” isn’t a genre defining piece to eclipse the highlights of the Star Wars saga as a whole, it compliments it with great action and direct purpose, rounding out desires of fans without compromising the rebellious spirit that forms the spine of the series.

8.4/10