‘Rogue’ back story adds intriguing history to ‘Star Wars’ saga

Felicity Jones and Diego Luna get some help from a sarcastic droid K-2S0 (Alan Tudyk).
Felicity Jones and Diego Luna get some help from a sarcastic droid K-2S0 (Alan Tudyk).

▪  What It’s About: Nearly 40 years after George Lucas took us to a galaxy far far away, a new saga, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” expands that fantastically detailed universe with a darker backstory.

This stand-alone plot parcels out the plucky derring-do of rag-tag rebels who swiped the super-weapon Death Star plans that Princess Leia gets her hands on in the 1977 “Star Wars: A New Hope.”

The dreaded evil Empire is as threatening as ever, setting up the epic battle between our Resistance heroes and Imperial villains. Darth Vader looms large as a formidable foe, but mostly it’s a new cast of characters with odd names.

This unfamiliar family tree is a lot to process at first, but eventually connects more dots.

“Rogue One” may not have the magical luster and mythical importance of the first three, but it provides a rip-roaring, risk-taking adventure that can appease fans until Episode 8 comes out next year.

▪  Performances: Felicity Jones is strong as brave Jyn Erso, yet another feisty female fulfilling her fate.

Her estranged father, Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen) was the scientist forced to work on the planet-killing Death Star.

Jyn joins forces with rebel spy Casson Andor (Diego Luna) and pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed), with help from Saw Gerraro (Forest Whitaker) and a sarcastic droid K-2S0 (Alan Tudyk).

Orson Krennic, an easy-to-despise Ben Mendelsohn, is a deliciously dastardly villain.

▪  What Works: With an abundance of “Easter eggs” (intentional inside joke, hidden message or references) for super-fans, the film provides many visual delights.

The visual effects don’t disappoint, while the heist is truly a humdinger. Director Gareth Edwards (”Godzilla”) has pulled off a minor miracle.

Michael Giacchino’s music score punctuates the plot perfectly.

▪  What Doesn’t Work: While it’s easy again to root for the underdogs going up against the Empire, what’s lacking overall is that mix of swagger and pluck that made Skywalker, Solo and the princess so appealing from the start.

Yet, as long as the Force is with characters, we’ll be there.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

  • Director: Gareth Edwards
  • Starring: Felicity Jones, Mads Mikkelsen, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn and Forest Whitaker
  • Rated: PG-13 for extended sequences of sci-fi action and violence
  • Length: 2:13