The problem with Star Wars kids is that we eventually grow up.
We didn't want to grow up. We wanted to stay Luke Skywalker forever, running around with towels tied around our necks, chasing household pets with plastic lightsabers, but time marches on, and most of us have kids of our own now.
When The Phantom Menace came out, we thought we wanted to be kids again, but what we really wanted was a Star Wars movie that had grown up with us, just a little rougher, just a little darker, just a little more complex than the movies we grew up with.
Instead, George Lucas went the other way, dumbing down the conflict and throwing in all kinds of kid's stuff that even the kids didn't like.
The Force Awakens was good stuff, but it was so weighed down by our expectations, it didn't have any room to move. The whole thing felt like a paint by numbers remix of the movies we loved.
It was fun, and I expect the next ones to be better, but Rogue One is everything we wanted, but couldn't quite express.
The first hour plays like Zero Dark Star Wars. The rebels are rough and tumble freedom fighters, doing whatever it takes to win. The heroes are morally ambiguous pragmatists, facing real adult choices about right and wrong.
And somehow, in the midst of all this adult stuff, the visuals bring back a sense of magic and wonder that I haven't felt since Return of the Jedi.
This is the most beautiful Star Wars movie to date. Every frame is like a little work of art. The practical effects blend seamlessly with the digital, particularly in environment shots. Some people were put off by the digital recreation of Tarkin, but I've spent plenty of time in the uncanny valley, and it didn't bother me.
The props, the sets, the hairstyles, transport you back to the retro future we all fell in love with as kids. This isn't a modern remix of Star Wars like The Force Awakens - this is old school Star Wars shot with new toys and new tools.
It's not bloody, and it's not vulgar, but it may be too intense for kids.
And after the movie, if you find yourself playing a bit too much with the toys you bought for the kids, I'd call that a sure sign of success.
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