While I am aware of, and even happen to agree with (to an extent), many of the criticisms that have bee levelled at The Force Awakens, since its release a year ago, it was still a film that I found myself genuinely enjoying. More than anything, I think that what I felt was a sense of relief that we finally had a Star Wars film which was able to recapture that sense of fun and excitement that we had with the original trilogy (I may not despise the prequel trilogy as much as some do – but, I definitely can't say that I enjoyed them, either).
But, despite the fact that the release of the first film in a new trilogy seemed to show that Disney had the right idea, I do have to admit that I've been unsure what to make of these plans for stand-alone Star Wars films. For one thing, the ones that have been announced, so far, all seem set on exploring similar 'prequel' territory – which didn't exactly fill me with confidence. But, with regard to Rogue One, at least, there was also the fact that it was a film set to be based around a cast of entirely new characters, whose fates haven't necessarily already been revealed by previous films in the franchise. For me, that fact, alone, managed to raise Rogue One above the prequels we have already had (and, also, the upcoming 'Young Han Solo' film, which I just don't have any real interest in, at this point) – and, ultimately, it also proves to be one of the film's greatest strengths.