I think we can all agree that The Force Awakens sucks. Disney decided to plagiarize episode 4 and put Jar-Jar Abrams to do the dirty work for them. And they failed missarably. Even if critics were bribed to say only nice things about the movie, it still sucks.
But Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is a whole different animal. And as a Star Wars movie it is way better than The Force Awakens, as it has a better story, more convincing locations, better direction, and geniune tension. It has its flaws as well, so let's get right to the pros and cons:
1. Far better story. Of course. It is based on the original Star Wars's opening crawl, written by the Master himself, George Lucas. Additionally, the story for Rogue One was written by John Knoll, who worked with George Lucas for years on the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy's special edition. Like Dave Filoni, who worked with George Lucas for years on The Clone Wars, Knoll is one of the people who truly understands the way George Lucas's vision for Star Wars. Neither Disney nor JJ Abrams understand Star Wars. That's why The Force Awakens sucks so bad. But in Rogue One the people who actually care about Star Wars were the ones behind the project.
2. Lots of action, lots of drama, lots of tension, and real stakes. Unlike The Force Awakens, in which
3. CGI Tarkin. The CGI version of Grand Moff Tarkin steals the show. At some point he ends up looking off and your brain stars sounding the "fake fake fake" alarm, but for the most part the CGI Tarkin is creepy enough to add to the character's personality as a bad guy. Here Tarkin really looks fearsome. I would say just as fearsome as Darth Vader or more.
4. Very good art direction. The art direction, locations, creatures, and special effects are top quality. really worthy of a Star Wars movie.
1. Mostly uninteresting characters. With the exception of the blind character and the droid, all of the new characters in the movie were uninteresting at best. Nope, Felicity Jones "tough chick" character doesn't do anything. Maybe Noomi Rapace would've been more believable. Nope, Diego Luna doesn't do anything either. He's not Han Solo (although they tried to make him look like Han towards the end of the movie); he's not Lando Calrissian; he's not even Wedge Antilles. He's just some guy running errands for Mon Mothma. And etc, etc. For the most part the characters were uninteresting. BUT, I also have to say none of the characters were as horribly eye-rolling as Kylo Ren or Snoke, or Poe Dameron, or Flynn, or Rey, or general Douchebag or whatever his name was.
2. Massive plot hole. There is one massive plot hole in the movie. In Episode 2 it was established that the Death Star was designed by the Geonosians. So why did the Empire need Jyn Erso's father to build it? Supposedly they suspended the building of the Death Star (which we saw under construction in Episode 3) because Erso's father defected the Empire. But again; since the plans for the Death Star existed since 22 years before Rogue One, why did they need Jyn Erso's father to build something they already have designs for. And by the way: in Episde 2 the Genosioans put the plans in a palm-sized recording device with a holographic image. Why did the Empire need to store the plans in a big-ass data tape? Even worse: the big-ass tape was overkill, since the plans for the Death Star fit in a small disk that was handed to Leia in the end. Things like that were problamatic if you are a true Star Wars fan.
3. CGI Leia. While CGI Tarkin was okay, and at times impressive, CGI Leia was not impressive. We see her on screen for about 10 seconds. And yes, the CGI model of young Carrie Fisher looks like her in Episode 4, but nowhere near as realistic as Tarkin. She looks way better than young Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy, but still a bit "videogamey". If they ever to a "special edition" of Rogue One, they should definitely redo Leia's CGI.
4. Rehashed situation from the original trilogy. Let's see; they rehashed Mos Eisley from Episode 4. Then they rehashed Endor from Return of the Jedi, but with palm trees. And they rehashed the AT-AT attack from Empire Strikes Back, but with palm trees. And finally they rehashed the space battle from Return of the Jedi even down to the Mon Calamari command ship, but with a different Admiral Aardvark. I guess you can argue these rehashes fit into the story, but still; rehash is rehash.
5. Scenes from the trailer not in the movie. Remember that part in the trailer where Jyn Erso faces a TIE fighter? It's not in the movie. Nor the scene with the bad guy marching with some stormtroopers at the beach. WTF? And by the way; the cameo of the guys from the Mos Eisley cantina who get their asses kicked by Obi-Wan was lame. Bail Organa's and Mon Mothma's cameo was justified. Saw Guerrera's came was -I guess- justified. Even R2-D2 and C-3PO making a brief cameo were justified. Not the 2 cantina guys. Which reminds me: a "general Syndulla" is mentioned in the PA system in Yavin 4, suggesting either Hera or Cham Syndulla were at Yavin 4. But they don't say which one.
As per the story, well, it's about how the Rebel Alliance used Jyn Erso to get to her father for the purpose of killing him, as he was helping the Empire build weapons. But then they learn about the Death Star and figure out Jyn Erso's father built a weakness into the Death Star so it can be destroyed (the therman exhaust port only 2 meters wide), so Jyn Erso goes "rogue" to steal the plans.
After stealing the plans, the rebels manage to transmit the plans to their main ship, where they record the plans to disk, and then they deliver them to Princess Leia, who manages to escape just moments before Darth Vader shows up, thus ending the movie merely hours before the opening scene over Tatooine in A New Hope.
I can't really measure this movie against the original Star Wars movies because it's more of an expanded universe thing. But I can compare it with some of the best moments of The Clone Wars and Rebels. The season finale of Season 2 of Rebels, for example, comes to mind. It's a really cool Star Wars movie from an expanded universe perspective, but without the Jedi, it isn't quite Star Wars. Maybe that´s why the last Darth Vader scene with Vader using the Force was so satisfying even though it was so short.
In short, Rogue One is a good Star Wars movie. Even if it's a spinoff movie, it's way better than The Force Awakens, and it is a worthy addition to the original George Lucas vision of Star Wars.