Finally saw it, liked it, probably my 3rd favorite Star Wars movie. But nobody should pay much attention to that, as I’m barely a big enough Star Wars fan to get my geek license renewed.
Overall it was probably really about as good as TFA, but I liked what Rogue One tried to do better. TFA felt much like most latter-day Bond movies - it was a remix of things people liked about previous movies, and presented as exactly that. “Hey, remember those great ski chases? We’ve got another coming up! Except this time it’s in Austria instead of Switzerland.”
There’s still a bunch of that in RO (or is it R1? I didn’t get an acronym memo) but the crucial thing is that RO made me believe the characters didn’t know they were in a Star Wars movie - they actually felt like they were going in blind and fighting a possibly hopeless battle, even though we the audience know what happens eventually. So I bought into the the whole war-movie framework, and it made the movie much better.
It had one big flaw, though - the characters were completely undercooked. Now it’s not like characters in this sort of movie are normally all that deep, but usually the screenwriter goes in and gives each member of the ragtag band of doomed misfits a brief moment in the sun - a scene, a line, a gimmick. Apart from Blind Martial Artist dude, that never really happened. And the characters themselves felt like they never got past the early brainstorming stage - Blind Martial Artist dude felt like he was simply copied and pasted from a list of Pop Culture Tropes Star Wars Hasn’t Nicked From Yet, and his sidekick never felt like he got beyond the descriptor “sidekick.” So when we got to the end, I didn’t feel nearly as much as I should have.
(It’s actually much easier with reality-based war movies. There you don’t even need to create a compelling little cameo of a character, you just need to convince the audience that this is an everyday person you might meet in normal life and let the brutality of war do the rest.)
So I liked it as a Star Wars movie, but in terms of ragtag band of doomed misfits movies it’s no Seven Samurai/Dirty Dozen/Great Escape/Wild Bunch. It’s not even a Guardians of the Galaxy. (Honestly if I could count Guardians of the Galaxy as a Star Wars movie, it’d be my third favorite. So like I said, not exactly a Star Wars die-hard.)