^^^Basically everything you said.
I've only seen the film once, but I look forward to a second viewing once I get back to the city (and can hopefully see it in IMAX).
I also thought the first half dragged a bit, but it really picked up and by the end it was one of the most exciting finales ever in a Star Wars film. I mean, that battle was just incredible. It totally blew me away.
I found it hard to get into the characters at first but by the end I loved them all. Or at least most of them. I'm still with you on Jyn. I just didn't find her that interesting at all, which was a problem that could have easily been fixed had they given her some more scenes about her backstory. Or made her mom a Jedi, which I was sure was the route they were going for and was surprised when it wasn't. Anyways, the other characters were really fun to watch and I fell in love with them. I also liked the story once it got going and how it tied in with the other films so perfectly. And yeah, I'm totally with you again on the risks being the awesome thing about this movie.
And I know a lot of people are complaining about CGI Tarkin, but I thought he looked great.
I know this film shouldn't be compared to Force Awakens because they are totally different, but I have been tossing around in my mind what these two different films have done right/wrong and what future Star Wars filmmakers can learn from each one, so I wanted to add a bit of how I compare them.
For me the Force Awakens did much better on the characters. I was immediately invested in all the new characters, while for Rogue One it took a while, though once I got to that point I loved those characters too. But I think Rogue One did better on the story. Even if there were some pacing issues, the story for Rogue One was more interesting and somehow more original even if it was more closely tied to the other movies than Force Awakens was. I also liked the action sequences better in Rogue One. It's hard for me to pick which one I liked better overall. I guess I would say Force Awakens because for me the characters are the heart of the story and the ones in Force Awakens were so good. But I'm proud of both films and happy with what Disney is doing for Star Wars.
Long live Duchess Satine!
Certified animation geek. Everything is AWESOME! All hail the glow cloud, Avengers assemble, turtle power, allons-y, and may the force be with you!