Roeper: Star Wars' 'Rogue One' a fast-paced thrill ride

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Let’s get the geek stuff out of the way right off the top: Yes, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” works as a stand-alone film—but it’s also a legitimate part of the “Star Wars” canon, with some great touches sure to delight the hardcore fans.

This is a rousing, fast-paced, action-packed, spectacular-looking thrill ride with spunky and spirited performances from a thoroughly likable cast of characters, both human and CGI.

“Rogue One” takes place just before the events of the original “Star Wars: A New Hope.”

Felicity Jones kills it as Jyn Erso, the smart, spunky and tough leader of a ragtag bunch of rebels going up against the oppressive Galactic Empire.

There’s a wonderful, multi-ethnic cast, including:

Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, a dashing Intelligence officer who just might remind you a little bit of Han Solo.

Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrara, an extremist rebel.

Riz Ahmed as Bodhi Rock, an Empire pilot who has defected.

Donnie Yen as a blind warrior-monk who believes in the Force with all of his being.

And big props to Alan Tudyk for voicing K-2S0, a Galactic Empire security droid re-programmed to serve the Alliance as Cassian’s sidekick. This lanky, wisecracking, independent-“minded” droid is one of the most endearing characters in “Rogue One” and hands-down the funniest.

The special effects, production design, costumes and editing: are all first-rate.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” isn’t quite as great as the first “Star Wars” movie or “The Empire Strikes Back,” but it’s a beautifully filmed adventure with crackling good humor, likable main characters, some genuinely heart-tugging moments—and oh man are the geeks gonna love the twists and surprises.