Rogue One was a Star Wars movie for people who hate Star Wars movies.
Star Wars movies are supposed to be fun. They have a sense of joy and adventure. This was a dark, intense, and ultimately depressing film that happened to be set in the Star Wars universe. And because it looked like a Star Wars movie, and people acted like they were in a Star War movie, when it ultimately turned out to be a dark war movie, the tone shift was rather jarring.
There’s nothing wrong with a dark and intense action movie, even one set in a comic booky world. I think movies like Terminator 2 and The Dark Knight are some of the best ever action movies. But they aren’t Star Wars, and they don’t belong being mixed with Star Wars.
Moreover, Rogue One wasn’t even a particularly good intense action movie. An intense action movie succeeds based on three categories: The quality of the action, how much you care about the plot/stakes, and most importantly, how much you care about the characters.
I can’t complain about the action. That was pretty good, so Rogue One did succeed in one aspect. But that was pretty much it.
The problem with the plot/stakes is that when you have a movie that is essentially a minor subplot to the most well-known movie of all time, everyone already knows how it’s going to end. So that takes the plot off the table. We already know they’re going to succeed at their overall goal. All that matters to us (or at least, all that can matter to us) is what happens to the characters along the way.
And for us to care about that, we have to care about the individual characters. And that is where Rogue One completely fails. The characters are so generic, derivative, and forgettable, that I literally can’t remember any of their names. There was knock-off Rey, knock-off Han, the squirrelly guy who wore goggles on his forehead for no apparent reason, the blind guy, the blind guy’s friend, the robot from Big Hero Six/Interstellar, Generic Eeeevil Commander, Grand Moff Uncanny Valley, and Forrest Whittaker who wandered in from Battlefield Earth. (I haven’t actually seen Battlefield Earth, but I’m pretty sure that’s where he wandered in from. Maybe it was Waterworld, Dune, or one of the Mad Max movies.)
On the plus side, it kept moving at a nice pace, and at least it wasn’t boring. So it was a lot better than Episode 2. But it left me feeling pretty meh, and was ultimately pretty forgettable.