Saw "Rogue One" today and really enjoyed it, though it was bittersweet given Carrie Fisher's death. The movie was definitely darker than the rest of the Star Wars movies, which gave it more gravitas than them.
I loved the original trilogy, especially the first one, now known as "A New Hope." It was fun, it was different, and it was good enough to earn the sequels that made Star Wars a franchise. But it wasn't as good as "The Empire Strikes Back." Despite the cliffhanger ending, ESB was a better, deeper, richer movie, darker in many ways. The third movie we got to see, "Return of the Jedi" restored the lighter feel to the franchise, too light, even silly in parts. But the trilogy is solid entertainment, something "The Clone Wars" never managed to be. Having recently seen parts of the first and third of those -- and I never did ever see the second -- on cable, I was reminded that they're unwatchable, worse than I'd remembered. Nostalgia had elevated them in my mind; rewatching lowered them again.
"The Force Awakens" was wonderful, if not all that fresh and unpredictable. But it gave us some amazing new characters, and that made me happy. The franchise is alive and well.
And now we have "Rogue One," a standalone that fills in the details of how the rebels got the plans to the Death Star prior to "A New Hope." We know, going in, that the rebels succeed in getting those plans to the Rebel Alliance. Telling a story when the ultimate outcome is known and maintaining suspense is a hard job, and I realized early on how things would end. And it didn't matter. The story had real suspense, real things at stake, and a very appealing cast.
Star Wars will never be to me what Star Trek has been -- Star Trek being part of my formative years and Star Wars coming into my life when I was already an adult, not to mention being more space opera than the more complex science fiction of the Trek TV series and many of its movies -- but it remains an entertaining franchise having shaken off the doldrums of the 3-part "Clone Wars." How I wish those movies could be redone so they could be raised to this level. "Rogue One might not be the best Star Wars movie, but I'm really glad to have seen it.