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Our global review of 'Rogue One' shoots from the hip

Is it the best Star Wars movie or the cinematic letdown of the year? CNET staffers share their blaster-hot takes. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" had big shoes to fill as the first Star Wars movie sans Skywalkers. And for the most part, it seems to have done a fairly decent job.

We're here to share the best parts -- and the worst -- of the latest Star Wars entry, which enjoyed a record-breaking opening night in the US. (CNET editors have contributed to that haul, as you'll see below).

If you haven't seen "Rogue One" yet, steer clear. There are spoilers ahead. But be sure to come back after you've seen it and add your own take in the comments section. Again, spoilers ahead. Spoilers ahead!

Got that?

You are, however, safe to read CNET's full spoiler-free review. (Did we mention there are spoilers ahead?)

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At the gala premiere of "Rogue One" in Singapore, fans caught a fashion show of cool outfits from local designers inspired by Star Wars.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

The best thing about "Rogue One" is:

It's the Star Wars movie fans have dreamed of for years. It features beautifully shot action sequences and wonderful realistic practical effects reminiscent of the original films. It ties up all the plot points you always wondered about while setting up the next movie (which you should watch when it's released -- about 40 years ago). It's a wonderful, wild ride that brings the Star Wars magic from the older "Legends" books to the big screen.

-- Aloysius Low, Singapore

Darth Vader has some particularly badass moments.

Lucasfilm/ILM

Darth Vader being a badass killer. The whole movie felt worth it just to see that scene. The story fits together well and leads right into "A New Hope" in a really satisfying way. Alan Tudyk's character is funny and Ben Mendelsohn is great, especially when he realizes he's authored his own fate.

-- Andrew Gebhart, Louisville, Kentucky

War is hell, and "Rogue One" captures it in the last third of the movie. You know the fate of the Death Star plans, but getting to that inevitability was more suspenseful than I expected it to be. Also, K-2SO's sass levels were at 11, and I'm here for it.

-- Ashlee Clark Thompson, Louisville, Kentucky

"Rogue One" does some things I've wanted in a Star Wars movie since the original trilogy: It sets up stakes, and doesn't explain everything to you. The film is much better for it. This movie asks you to buy into a group of rebels who clearly have rich, interesting histories and experiences, but doesn't insist you need to hear every single detail about every single one of them. I'm OK with that. Everything on screen tells the story of the characters you see, without too much expository dialogue, plus the entire movie is a much more grounded depiction of the actual "war" part of Star Wars.

Oh, and K-2SO is officially the best droid in the Star Wars universe. Don't @ me.

-- Ashley Esqueda, Los Angeles

Darth Vader slaughtering his way through a hallway of frantic rebels will be remembered as one of the most iconic bad guy moments in the entire franchise.

-- Ry Crist, Louisville, Kentucky

Director Krennic, played by Ben Mendelsohn: A memorable character.

Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

I particularly can't stop thinking about Director Krennic. He's the kind of petty nobody who allows truly evil men like Tarkin and Darth Vader to dominate the galaxy, the kind of ego-driven opportunist who does the everyday dirty work just because he likes the uniform.

-- Richard Trenholm, London

It breaks beautifully from the mold of Star Wars Saga films with a wholly original, genuinely compelling war story. It's a hard dose of reality before the palate cleanser that is "A New Hope." A gritty slice of Rebellion before the fights escalate in Episode IV, "Rogue" is more fulfilling than many of today's Marvel films.

-- Caitlin Petrakovitz, San Francisco

Diego Luna won me over fast, the droid seems like a shout-out to a couple of classic Star Wars games, and the blind Force user (Donny Yen) and his shooty companion should have their own movie. And for girls who wanted to be Han Solo, there's Jyn Erso's outfit.

With the faster pace and shadier morality we expect now, "Rogue One" delivers enough Star Wars: callous Imperials and gallant pilots, shiny space tech and grunge, the theme of finding friends and what you're meant to do, reminders of where this fits in the larger saga. Let's just forget the prequels now. THIS is what Darth Vader was supposed to be like. And hey, "The Force Awakens," you don't have to blow up five planets at once to impress people. What matters is whether we care about the destruction.

-- Kelsey Adams, San Francisco

The single most awesome thing about "Rogue One"? The last few minutes. Seeing Vader, at his most badass, tearing through a corridor of rebel scum, lightsaber in hand and the dark side of the force in full effect.

After the indignity of being unmasked in "Jedi" and the endless whining of Anakin in the prequels (the less said about "Noooooo" the better), it was a triumph to see the undisputed Dark Lord of the Sith back being the best bad guy in cinematic history. Even if it was briefly.

-- Drew Stearne, London

Everyone dies. Also, Ben Mendelsohn's performance as an Imperial administrative assistant gunning for a promotion.

-- Dave Priest, Louisville, Kentucky

Finally, a Star Wars movie since "Return of the Jedi" that's comfortable being its own story. Instead of forcing (pun intended) fun (but pointless) throwback references like the prequels and episode 7 did, "Rogue One" focuses on its own story and character development.

-- Andy Altman, San Francisco

For a casual Star Wars fan who grew up with the movies (but not enough to quote them), "Rogue One" kept the action pared down and plausible enough to follow. I understood why this, that and the other needed to be done to have the slightest chance of saving the day. The action's un-Hollywood resolution is atypical for a Disney film, but felt more powerful and right because of it.

Throwback tech and costume designs were at first distracting (I'm talking about those big Fischer Price-looking adornments on the Imperials officers' uniforms), but ultimately keep us firmly planted in the Star Wars world first envisioned in the '70s. And that's important.

-- Jessica Dolcourt, San Francisco

The Odd Couple? Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) and Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) quarrel but have each other's backs.

Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

It's the perfect combination of nostalgia of the Star Wars we loved and introducing us to a whole new adventure. It was great to see characters from the original trilogy and homages to iconic moments, but with a brand new set of heroes that win you over over the course of the movie.

The cinematography and visual effects definitely transport you to that galaxy far, far away and keep you engaged.

-- Tania Gonzalez, San Francisco

The stellar and diverse cast, especially Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso. To rewrite a line from Lin-Manuel Miranda, "Women: They get the job done." (OK, in this case it's "woman.") Also, Donnie Yen and Wen Jiang as Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus, who quarrel at times like the "Odd Couple" but defend each other and their fellow rebels to the death.

-- Anne Dujmovic, Portland, Ore.

The worst part about "Rogue One" is...

We already got a sequel to it 40 years ago.

-- Caitlin Petrakovitz, San Francisco

Jyn might go down as the least charismatic rebellion leader in the Star Wars franchise. Her speech to the rebels about why they need to fight should have been at a Bill-Pullman-in-"Independence Day" level of inspirational. Instead, we were left with a tepid monologue that made me think, "Girl, I guess so."

-- Ashlee Clark Thompson, Louisville, Kentucky

Jyn Erso's speech to the rebels. Girl, I guess so.

Industrial Light & Magic, a division of Lucasfilm

It's a shame the rest of the talented cast doesn't get to play characters as fleshed out as they could be. We're told Bodhi Rook, for example, is repentant and guilt-ridden, but we don't feel it as much as we could. For most of the film he's just the guy who knows Imperial stuff.

Still, I loved hanging out with the bit part players and minor characters of the Star Wars saga -- the extras strike back, you might say. And let's face it, the bit with Darth Vader wading through rebels may be the best thing in any Star Wars movie ever ...

-- Richard Trenholm, London

A couple of awkward inspirational speeches and some unnecessary uncanny valley CGI were forgivable, but overall, I was hoping for something a little more, you know, feel-good? This movie knew what I wanted as a Star Wars fan and a human being; it gave me some of that, and deliberately trashed the rest. Which is a kind of storytelling some people love! But I'm not convinced it's in the spirit of the original trilogy. We deserved more of this hope they kept talking about.

-- Kelsey Adams, San Francisco

Almost all of the characters felt flat. I generally think the movie's writers had a roundtable when they were starting the script, and they took a hat with descriptive adjectives and drew out two per character. This character is... spunky and kind. Great! Done!

All character arcs were rushed so the dramatic moments at the end didn't feel earned. I'm generally disappointed, as I thought the story beats of the end were quite cool and I just wished the movie had made me care even a little about the people that were making this sacrifice.

-- Andrew Gebhart, Louisville, Kentucky

About halfway through the film, there's an absolutely ridiculous line uttered by a franchise regular that was completely out of character. I won't spoil it for you, but it's absurd and you'll know it when you hear it. That same character's home base location and design is equally ludicrous. I won't stand for that kind of nonsense! Fortunately everything else that character did was amazing to see and cemented their legacy even further.

-- Ashley Esqueda, Los Angeles

Beside seeing Darth Vader paint a hallway red, everything in the film was almost completely forgettable, right down to the names of the heroes. It's a joyless, decidedly not-kid-friendly Star Wars flick that can't muster up more than two dimensions for any of its characters (or one, if we're talking about Leia and Tarkin). If it wasn't Star Wars, it wouldn't be worth anyone's time.

-- Ry Crist, Louisville, Kentucky

At times it felt formulaic. Wise-cracking robo-sidekick, check. Lots of wide shots of barren deserts, check. Heroes who find the strength to drudge on despite potentially lethal setbacks at every turn...check. Jyn's rise as the most important character felt too meteoric to be genuine, and Felicity Jones' accent a little too proper for a frequently jailed desert rat. (So sorry, Felicity.)

-- Jessica Dolcourt, San Francisco

Why add so many characters and then not invest any screen time to make the audience care?

Not one of the main characters we get introduced to is essential in telling the story. Any given one of them could be removed with no narrative consequence. Try that with "A New Hope."

-- Drew Stearne, London

I definitely missed the traditional credits at the beginning.

-- Tania Gonzalez, San Francisco

There won't be a "Rogue Two," so to speak, but hey, we can all have new hopes. See what I did there?

-- Aloysius Low, Singapore

Diego Luna and Forest Whitaker. They're the only ones who can't seem to get comfortable in their roles.

-- Andy Altman, San Francisco

Reanimating an old enemy and, ever so briefly, a 1977 version of an old friend with fabulous buns. I couldn't stop staring at the ghost of Peter Cushing. I just kept thinking, "He's definitely had some work done. Like, a lot of work." It was so distracting I have no idea what Tarkin said. So of course, I'm going back next week.

-- Anne Dujmovic, Portland, Ore.

Imagine dropping meat, veggies and broth into a crock pot, leaving it on high for a week and then returning to find a stew with no distinguishable ingredients. Now imagine those ingredients are actors, a script and a director, and the crock pot is a production company. Exchange the George Lucas PowerPoint wipes to bookend scenes for perfunctory punchlines from robo-Alan Tudyk. Toss in a handful of soft-focus close-ups of CGI-resurrected characters from 40 years ago. Garnish the whole dish with a little extra dirt to convince viewers Star Wars has finally gone "dark."

That nutrient slop is basically Rogue One. You'll go see it because, well, it's your annual helping of Star Wars. But you won't post the picture of the plate on Instagram.

-- Dave Priest, Louisville, Kentucky

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