Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
A direct prequel to the original Star Wars film, it’s infinitely stronger than the pandering parade of seniors and their pouty petulant offspring that was The Force Awakens. For sure, familiar characters pop in and out, but it doesn’t bludgeon you with warm fuzzy nostalgia. The saga of the rebels’ quest to track down and steal the newly christened and completed Death Star’s blueprints once it’s learned the architect (father of heroine Jyn Erso, played by Felicity Jones) intentionally designed a weak spot, it’s a genuine heroic adventure story that proves more engaging and exciting than anything in George Lucas’ Episodes I-III. The CGI’ed Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin gets a bit creepy – he (or “it”) plays a larger role than you might expect – but the battle scenes on the beaches of Scarif, an Imperial base of operations, impressively harken back to the WWII movies that were an inspiration to Lucas in the first place. Personally, I’d rank it just under Empire among all the entries since the first movie.