Mild spoiler alert! This review doesn’t reveal any major plot twists, but wait to read it if you don’t want to know a single thing about “Rogue One” or other science-fiction films.
Tonight’s the first chance most of us will have to see “Rogue One,” the latest addition to the big-screen Star Wars saga, but we already know it’s the best film of the batch. Or one of the worst.
That’s based on the reviews from fans and critics that have come out since the previews started rolling out over the past few days.
Unless you’ve been locked up in a slab of carbonite, Han Solo-style, you already know that “Rogue One” is a standalone story in the Star Wars oeuvre, The movie is about a band of rebels who take on the Galactic Empire in the stretch of time between Episode III (“Revenge of the Sith”) and Episode IV (“A New Hope”), when Darth Vader was digging the Dark Side.
That’s as far as I’ll get into Spoiler Country. (I learned my lesson after last year.) But in case you’re wondering whether you should rush out to a midnight showing, here are some thumbs-up and thumbs-down reviews. Follow the links at your own risk:
Thumbs up: Newsarama says it’s maybe the best-ever, and that’s including “The Empire Strikes Back.” The Daily Beast says it’s the best since “Empire.” Vanity Fair says it’s a “bracing and dizzying marvel.” Rolling Stone says it has the same spirit “that made us fall in love with the original trilogy.”
Thumbs down (or at least sideways): The New Yorker says it’s a “lobotomized and depersonalized” entry that makes one wonder whether it’s time to abandon the Star Wars franchise. The New York Times calls it a “thoroughly mediocre movie.” MTV says it’s a “Star Wars story you’ve seen before.” Time says it’s “almost pedantic in its inoffensiveness.”
For what it’s worth, Rotten Tomatoes is giving “Rogue One” a respectable 85 percent rating on the Tomatometer (better than “Fantastic Beasts,” not as good as “Doctor Strange”). Ninety-nine percent of the users who clicked want to see it, so the reviews probably make zero difference. On this subject, I’ll let uber-geek Wil Wheaton have the last word:
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) December 11, 2016
Looking beyond “Rogue One,” here are eight more intriguing science-fiction films (plus one that’s filled with science fact). The release dates are based on Internet Movie Database and may not reflect Seattle showings.
Hidden Figures: The true story of the African-American women who served as calculators for NASA’s Project Mercury back in the 1960s. It’s the flip side of “The Right Stuff,” and particularly timely with this month’s passing of John Glenn. Dec. 23.
Passengers: Two interstellar passengers (Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt) are roused out of suspended animation decades before they were supposed to. Why? This movie is already going splat on Rotten Tomatoes, but the concept sounds intriguing for space geeks. Dec. 23.
The Space Between Us: A teen who’s born on Mars gets into a long-distance relationship and decides to see what this Earth thing is all about. Is his heart up to it, literally and romantically? Feb. 7.
God Particle: This movie is said to be about a shocking discovery that forces a team of space station astronauts to fight for their survival. The more shocking news is that it’s part of the Cloverfield alien-horror anthology. Stay tuned … we’ll surely know more before its release on Feb. 24.
Ghost in the Shell: A reboot of the Japanese dystopian anime saga, starring Scarlett Johansson as the cyborg policewoman who aims to bring down a nefarious computer hacker. Sounds similar to Johansson’s spooky roles in “Lucy” and “Under the Skin.” By some accounts, the film is plagued by problems. We’ll see. March 31.
The Circle: The screen adaptation of Dave Eggers’ book about a cultish social-media network may cut too close to home for folks at Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and other tech companies, but I’m definitely looking forward to it. Check out Emma Watson and Tom Hanks in the trailer. April 28.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: You knew there had to be a sequel to the Marvel film spin-off about intergalactic antiheroes, just as you knew there had to be an Awesome Mixtape #2. This sequel is already causing a stir over the appearance of Baby Groot. May 5.
Alien: Covenant: “Rogue One” isn’t the only movie that’s knitting together chapters of a sprawling space sci-fi saga. “Covenant” fits into the gap between “Prometheus” and the original “Alien.” Expect a creepy android. And creepier monsters. May 19.
Life: Astronauts working on the International Space Station study a sample brought back from Mars that may contain the first known form of extraterrestrial life. It does not go well. And yes, NASA really is talking about bringing back samples from Mars. The movie is set to open on Memorial Day weekend, May 26.