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There’s a great idea at the heart of ‘Rogue One,’ but this is a frustrating movie

Felicity Jones in "Rogue One."
Felicity Jones in "Rogue One." Lucasfilm-Walt Disney Studios Mo

There’s a great idea at the heart of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” — I just wish that it were beating in a better movie.

The first in what threatens to be a long line of spin-offs set in the galaxy far, far away is a charmless, shoddily constructed nostalgia fest that waits until the final act to really kick into gear.

By then it has become so painfully difficult to give a hoot about the fate of Jyn Erso and her rag-tag team of rebels, it’s all you’ll be able to do to shout “hey, I’d recognize that signature hair style anywhere!”

The biggest sin that a film can commit is to exist without cause. Does Jason Bourne really need to come back? Must James Bond return? Can the Marvel Universe ever just stay saved?

What’s so frustrating about Rogue One is that it clears that jump right from the premise only to promptly fall on its face once the opening sequence concludes.

We are dropped back into the world that Lucas built just prior to the events of the original “Star Wars.” The galaxy is operating at peak Empire, which is always bad news bears for all involved.

Fortunately there’s hope on the horizon — the word “hope” is thrown around a lot in this movie, possibly in an attempt to remind you that the next film in the chronology is subtitled “A New Hope” and currently available on Blu-ray or digital download.

Anyway, the Rebel Alliance may the have inside scoop on how to destroy the Death Star thanks to Felicity Jones’ Jyn Erso, the daughter of an Imperial scientist who designed the most lethal weapon in the galaxy under duress (what does your dad do for a living?).

To discover the location Death Star’s fatal flaw, Jyn leads a group of Rebel Alliance spies on mission to steal the blueprints to the galaxy’s favorite McGuffin.

Am I crazy or should that not work?

It fits in seamlessly with the “Star Wars” timeline, is different from anything we’ve seen before and perhaps most importantly, is an honest-to-God story — one told so poorly that it’s almost a little bit heartbreaking.

The first act, choppy at best, feels like somebody tried to trim the fat and ended up hitting bone. Without ever establishing a clear point of view or the relationships between its cast of largely extraneous characters, the movie grinds under the gears of its own plot.

The iconography is all there, but adrift of any of the humanity that has defined the series at its best.

On the way out of the theater, I heard somebody say that Disney had destroyed “Star Wars.” I think that’s a little melodramatic.

After all, where would the Empire be if they had stopped after that first Death Star?

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