Croydon Guardian:

There are brief moments in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story when you think you might be watching something unique. There is no iconic scrawling text to open, no Jedi prophecies and only fleeting notes from John Williams’ famous score.

Rogue One is the story of Jyn Erso, a prisoner of the Empire reluctantly thrust into the gritty battlegrounds of the rebellion. At times, it promises an insight into the untold story of rebel fighters – the forgotten fighter pilots unblessed with the powers of the force.

After all, civil wars get dirty - and as a reminder director Gareth Edwards has even thrown in an extremist rebel outcast and torturous interrogation scene - that’s if you count a giant squid slobbering all over your face as torture.

Tellingly, Edwards cuts the scene before the gory/slobbery aftermath can be revealed and in that brief moment any illusions of revolution are dispelled. This is simply vintage Star Wars.

All the key ingredients are there; the jump from exotic location to another, the humorous droid (this time a cross between the Iron Giant and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s Marvin) and soliloquys of the ‘power of hope’.

There is a list of character Easter eggs so long that it would take even the most avid of fanatics multiple viewings to dissect them. There are so many homages to the past, so many not-so-subtle nods to the characters you know and love you barely get the chance to realise there are new ones.  

The threat of the ever so aptly named Death Star looms over this film like it has every other great Star Wars instalment, and with the help of impressive CGI its' destructive power has never looked so real.

Edwards has no choice but to utilise it given the story arc, but its' presence gives this film an almost identical tone to A New Hope and The Force Awakens.

There is no reinventing of the wheel here. But then again, why should there be?

Star Wars is a world of pure escapism, a franchise so erringly mythic it has spawned its own religion. Any gritty details of what a rebellion would have actually been like in a world of laser beams are simply not welcome.

We’d much rather see Darth Vader – his appearances here so brief yet so magnificent they near perfection – and a blind monk dodging bullets using the force.

The climactic battle – while slightly overlong – is a spectacle worthy of any sci-fi thriller, and in a film where characterisation takes a backseat there are solid performances form lead actors Felicity Jones and Diego Luna.

Will it win over a new generation of fans? Probably not, but then again even from its conception this was always a film for the purists.

Fanatics will walk away with a smile from ear to ear, hungry for this somewhat unnecessary spinoff series’ next adventure.

Cinema will be no worse or no better for it, but after a year of a rise in hate crime and Donald Trump, maybe an utterly joyous Star Wars instalment was just what the doctor ordered.