Now that Disney has officially lifted the embargo, the Internet is awash with the first reviews for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the Gareth Edwards-directed anthology movie that is now mere days away.
Excitement going into Friday’s US theatrical release is palpable, particularly after those overwhelmingly positive reactions to Rogue One‘s worldwide premiere. By and large, these reviews are no different, and shower praise on both the visual style and dark, gritty tone of Edwards’ spinoff. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is not without its faults, though, with our own Matt Donato calling out the seemingly clunky opening act. That being said, the general consensus appears to be that the spinoff begins firing on all cylinders towards the finale, which is said to feature some of the best action sequences in Star Wars history.
For a film shackled with great expectation, not to mention those disconcerting reports of extensive reshoots, Rogue One looks to have emerged relatively unscathed. But will this strong momentum carry over to the film’s opening weekend? Below, you’ll find a spoiler-free sampling of those early verdicts, beginning with our own:
WGTC: “Rogue One makes up for a shaky first act by punching into overdrive for an outstanding third act battle sequence that overwhelms in scale and intensity.”
THR: “So this new entry in the series, stand-alone or not, earns solid middle-to-upper-middle standing in the overall franchise scheme of things. Whether we ever see any of these new characters again remains an open question; some would be welcome, others will not be missed. What fans will get here is loads of action, great effects, good comic relief, stunning locations (Iceland, Jordan and the Maldives) and some intriguing early glimpses of the Galactic Empire as it begins to flex its inter-galactic power.”
Variety: “Not only does “Rogue One” overlap ever so slightly with “A New Hope,” but it takes that blockbuster’s biggest weakness — that a small one-man fighter can blow up a battlestation the size of a class-four moon — and actually turns this egregious design flaw into an asset. Now we know why the Death Star has an Achilles’ heel and how that information fell into Princess Leia’s hands. Plus (and here’s the aspect that should send longtime “Star Wars” fans into ecstatic orbit), director Gareth Edwards has finally made the first “Star Wars” movie for grown-ups.”
The Verge: “The return to old-school practical effects for The Force Awakens was well-hyped (even though nearly all of it was augmented by CG effects), and both the ground and space battles of Rogue One evoke the same sense of ‘70s realism. It’s a credit both to Edwards’ own vision, and his devotion to echoing George Lucas, that his sequences feel so authentic and familiar while still having a lively, modern sheen.”
io9: “The most moving moments in the history of Star Wars are always the darkest. The end of The Empire Strike Back and the deaths of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda are a few examples on a much longer list. Thankfully, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story understands that and more. It’s a movie that nails what it means to be Star Wars in seemingly every way, and it’s not afraid to scare the bejeezus out of a few kids to get there.”
Mashable: “At the very least, Edwards has succeeded in his stated goal to make ‘the most realistic Star Wars movie ever,’ and it’s no wonder that the young director received such copious congratulations from George Lucas himself. In short, Rogue One will make you believe that wars in the stars are possible — and give your heart its best workout in years.”
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is earmarked for release on Friday, December 16, and though it’s not expected to hit the lofty box office heights of The Force Awakens, analysts claim the Gareth Edwards-directed pic is currently tracking for a $350 million worldwide haul in its opening weekend.