This article will contain spoilers for Star Wars: Rogue One
Processing my thoughts feels impossible right now, but I feel in order to be as raw as I can with my feelings towards this movie, I need to write this right now. Rogue One was far, far beyond expectations. Excellent isn't an expressive enough word to encompass how well this movie defines Star Wars. We've never seen the "War" in Star Wars, like we do in this film.
Rogue One is set directly prior to Star Wars Episode IV and roughly 16-18 years after the end of the novel Catalyst. The movie follows Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor as they are charged to locate Jyn's father, the Kyber Crystal Expert, Galen Erso. Galen has been forced to help to construct the massive planet destroying weapon for the Empire, by high ranking engineer, Orson Krennic and the Rebellion finds it necessary to prevent that from happening.
The movie depicts galactic war on an unprecedented level. The hasty assaults. The swift responses to new information. The crafty plans and unhesitated execution. The true gravity of the struggle between The Rebellion and The Empire has never before been so organically depicted. We see X-wings performing deadly air strikes, and Imperial Walkers raining powerful blaster bolts down on ground units. The foreboding threat of impending battle creates a perpetual apprehension of the opposing forces clashing and a gut wrenching recognition that the loss of life is inevitable.
While the cast is full of brand new characters, all of them are personable and easy to love, and key characters like Tarkin and our favorite Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader (who's once again voiced by James Earl Jones just like in the original Trilogy!) really help to bring the situation to life. When the plot shifts, and the new task of obtaining the Death Star plans presents itself, our core characters and a small contingent of Rebels go against orders and fashion themselves with the call sign "Rogue One." When the Rebellion realizes what they've begun, they adjust to the situation, and provide back up. Each individual of "Rogue One" proves their heroism as they undertake their mission with a selfless, military service of a purpose they realize is greater than themselves and it is beautiful.
What really made me lean back in my seat, and repeat an awe inspired "Wow" a countless number of times, is how seamlessly Rogue One was slipped into the Star Wars storyline. After a lifetime of re-watching Star Wars Episode IV, I have a burned in image of the movie opening with the Tantive IV being chased down by the Star Destroyer Executor, and Storm Troopers blasting through the door as they board the Rebel Star Cruiser. I am not lying when I tell you that an immense wave of emotion swept me when Darth Vader boarded the ship to which the Tanative IV was docked and I watched the persistence and valor of each nameless rebel as they passed back the recently uploaded Death Star plans even as the Sith Lord was cutting through them. Watching as the very last one managed to get through the door with the plans just as it seals behind him, and seeing him sprint to place them into the hands of Princess Leia herself, I lost it. Rogue One drives right into Episode IV, down to the moment. Seeing the battle that was fought, the lives that were lost, and how high the stakes were, just to get those plans into her hands, Rogue One filled an important void with a connection that was executed to perfection.
Based on the gravity of what that single scene meant to the most impactful movie anthology of all time, I think I can safely call it the best ending movie sequence I've ever seen in a movie. Needless to say, this movie gets an 11/10 for me. There was to much to enjoy and very little to critique. As a heavy Star Wars fan this movie means more than I can likely express, but if you are a casual fan, or don't understand or remember Episode IV, I guarantee that the movie is still beyond incredible. Personally, I'm still reeling from the awe of it. Seriously, the bright white hall on the Tantive IV alone was enough to stir heavy pots of nostalgia. I won't dub this the best Star Wars movie just yet, but right now, it's certainly in my top three.