The problem with science fiction prequels, as I’m always saying, is that they are made with better technology then the ostensible sequels, making them incoherent in terms of technology.
That was definitely one of the problems with the first set of Star Wars prequels, which felt like they were set in practically a different universe, technologically. I mean, the real problem was the story, but that’s, um, another story.
Rogue One succeeds both because it manages to do a much better job of creating the pre-New Hope world in terms of technology (some of the set design is so bang-on it’s eerie) and because it manages to tell a simple story, one that hilariously manages to fill one of the annoying plot holes from A New Hope. (Why, exactly, did the Empire build a Death Star with such a fatal flaw? Now we know! I bet the writers of Rogue One have been itching to fix this problem for their entire lives.)
Though this is a longish movie, like so many blockbusters these days, it doesn’t feel like it; it just glides by. And though we have tread this territory before, and there is plenty of fan service (not the least the digital recreation of characters from A New Hope), there’s enough new to this version of the story – and particularly, to the characters’ fates – that it doesn’t feel like yet another boring franchise retread.
I grew up with the Star Wars films, grew out of them, tried and then failed to like the prequels (I was one of those idiots who defended The Phantom Menace