I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I sat down in the theater to watch Rogue One. While Force Awakens had been steeped in mystery, Rogue One was a new type of new Star Wars film. This one was meant to stand alone, not set up a series, but even beyond that, I wasn't entirely sure what the movie was going to be. I'd watch a handful of the various trailers, but for the most part, I'd tried not to seek out that much information about it.
After watching the movie, I think this is the best way to differentiate between Rogue One and other Star Wars films: The original Star Wars trilogy follows the hero's journey almost exactly. In many ways, the other Star Wars films are like fantasy films but in space. To me, Rogue One breaks that mold. Rogue One is a war movie, like any war movie set here on Earth, except in space. To me, that's the difference.
This gave Rogue One a very different tone than the other Star Wars films, but I liked that about it. It made it unique within the Star Wars universe, but it was able to be unique while still feeling very much like a Star Wars film.
The characters were by far the best part. Bodhi and Cassian were my favorites though I loved all of the heroes. While each of them have great personalities on their own, the way they interact with each other makes them even more enjoyable to watch. I don't know how one could not fall in love with them over the course of the film, and I was on the edge of my seat worrying for their safety throughout much of the movie.
We also get cameos (and appearances that are a bit more than cameos) from familiar characters, which were all done quite nicely. I liked the role Darth Vader played, which was enough to get excited about him being in the film but not enough for him to overshadow new characters.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed Rogue One, especially for the characters it provided us with. It was a fun film and one that I recommend.