Rogue One: A Star Wars Story review round-up

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story review embargoes now have permission for lift off and critics across the board seem to agree that this is a thrilling and excellent addition to the Star Wars franchise, with a never-before-seen gritty brutality that makes it stand out.

Starring Felicity Jones as Rebel Alliance recruit Jyn Erso and directed by Gareth Edwards, best known for Godzilla, the film is set between the events of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and the original Star Wars film, 1977's Episode IV: A New Hope.

Rogue One is the first of three planned standalone spin-off films in the Star Wars franchise and though it’s not directly connected to The Force Awakens in terms of story, the previous film’s success and positive reception has given it a lot to live up to. Judging by the fact that the reviews are averaging out at 4 out of 5, Star Wars fans have nothing to worry about.

We’ve rounded up a selection of reviews (spoiler free, of course!) so that you can get a sense of how the film’s being received ahead of seeing it on December 15. 

GamesRadar – Lauren O'Callaghan and Matt Maytum  

“This is not a Star Wars movie. At least, it’s not the kind of Star Wars you’d recognize. Whereas the episodic movies are all about the magic of the Force, ‘chosen ones’, and good conquering evil, Rogue One is about the brutal tragedy of war. So much so, that I’m pretty surprised Disney let director Gareth Edwards make a Star Wars movie so dark.

“In a way, Rogue One isn’t a happy movie but it’s no less impressive because of it [...] Rogue One is real. It’s brutal and it hurts but it is oh-so powerful you can’t help but be swept up in it. With so much of the story already told and an ending you know is coming, Edwards had a much more difficult task ahead of him than JJ Abrams did with The Force Awakens. But thanks to a healthy respect for the source material, and a willingness to not let it dictate too much, we not only have another standout Star Wars film, we have the best one since 1977.”

 Variety – Peter Debruge 

“Between epic battles featuring scores of familiar spaceships and the genuine thrill of hearing composer Michael Giacchino riff on John Williams’ classic score, there’s no denying that the film belongs to the creative universe Lucas established. This is the rebellion as it is experienced in the trenches. Younger audiences will be bored, confused, or both. But for the original generation of “Star Wars” fans who weren’t sure what to make of episodes one, two, and three, “Rogue One” is the prequel they’ve always wanted.”

Slashfilm – Peter Sciretta 

“Is Rogue One Good? Yes! Rogue One is thrilling, an action-packed adventure in a chapter that we never imagined we would ever see on screen. It’s a fantastic trip to new worlds within a galaxy we love, adding to the mythology without having to be beholden to the Skywalker legacy as a focal point. It may have taken four decades, but this film finally earns the word “Wars” in the “Star Wars” branding. And we finally get a Star Wars prequel movie worthy of playing alongside the original trilogy.

It’s gritty and dark, yet gorgeous and big scale. We feel more in the center of the action, and it often feels different than what has come before in the series.”

 The Wrap – Alonso Duralde 

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is for the fans, all right, but in that expression’s worst way. Unless you’re thrilled by the idea of 133 minutes of sideways mentions, shout-outs and straight-up references to the original “Star Wars” (or “Episode IV: A New Hope,” for those born after 1977), there’s not nearly enough excitement going on here, much less character, plot or story [...]

“Viewers who had a problem with “The Force Awakens” for having too many callbacks to the original trilogy without creating enough new mythos of its own — look on any message board and you’ll still find them complaining vigorously — will find this go-round even more exasperating. And even if you’ve seen and liked the films but perhaps never read any of the novels or watched any of the Blu-ray extras, you may still find yourself underwhelmed.”

 The Hollywood Reporter – Todd McCarthy 

“Rogue One definitely puts the war back into Star Wars. It may call itself rogue, but this first stand-alone feature in the series officially unconnected with any of the previous entries fits comfortably in the universe George Lucas birthed 40 years ago.

[...] this new entry in the series, stand-alone or not, earns solid middle-to-upper-middle standing in the overall franchise scheme of things.”

Screen Daily – Tim Grierson 

“Star wars, indeed: the thrilling Rogue One brings a gritty combat-movie aesthetic to George Lucas’s beloved space opera, but not at the expense of a thoughtful, emotional story about the foot soldiers who make sacrifices in the name of a movement. Perhaps the darkest, most action-packed Star Wars instalment, director Gareth Edwards’ standalone adventure establishes its own rhythm, balancing fan demands with grand, poetic moments unlike anything this cinematic galaxy has previously achieved.”

Emma Boyle

Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.