A friend who saw Rogue One at the Pantages two nights ago calls it “the best Star Wars film I’ve ever seen.” I asked what his favorite Star Wars film is, and he answered The Empire Strikes Back. Me: “You’re saying it strikes the same kind of heavy chords?” Friend: “Well, it’s not as darkly themed or artily photographed but it’s really good…they had to start from scratch with brand-new characters.”

I could have gone into my song-and-dance about Empire being such a one-of-a-kind thing, but I didn’t want to be tedious. But I doubt that Rogue One is going to be all about losing, betrayals, self-doubt, hauntings and evil having its way, which is what consumes Irvin Kershner‘s 1980 film. (And which is precisely what’s happening in this country right now.) They’re no glory in Empire. The heroes get their asses kicked from beginning to end, and at the end they’re grateful not to be dead and ready for a nap. Like most of us these days.

An out-of-town critic who saw it this morning said the following: “I’m not much of a Star Wars fan, but this one struck me as easily one of the best in the series. It goes on too long — 133 minutes — with one of those endless battle sequences at its climax, but the story is pretty interesting, there is actually some moral complexity, and it appears the franchise has finally entered the 21st century in terms of casting. The heroes are a Mexican, an English woman, two Asians and a Pakistani/Muslim/Englishman. So the film’s racial and ethnic composition is kind of a ‘fuck you’ to Trump and the alt-right.”

I’m seeing Rogue One this evening at 7 pm on the Disney lot.