It's been awhile, guys. This time of year is difficult for the movies, but we do have one with which we can wrap up 2016. And believe it or not it's a Star Wars prequel. And it's actually good! Shocking, I know!
Set after the events of Revenge of the Sith, a group of Rebel fighters attempt to steal the plans of the newly constructed Death Star in order to give the Rebels a fighting chance for A New Hope.
Jyn Erso: I like Jyn, but at times I thought her acting was a bit flat. However, I do greatly enjoy her character arc. We see her left behind at a young age, separated from her family. Over the years she became more rebellious and was later recruited to be part of something bigger when it's revealed that her father, Galen, had a huge role in creating the Death Star. Watching this progression was entertaining, but just a bit rushed for my taste.
Galen Erso: One of the top engineers for the Death Star, Galen proves to be on the side of the Rebellion by playing the part of an Empire sympathizer. This is a nice change of pace from what's usually depicted of those who work in the Empire. It gives them a more emotional and human response for their actions and Galen does a great job of conveying this.
Chirrut Imwe: One of my favorite characters here! Even though he's technically not a Jedi, the movie suggests that he does have a connection to the Force and knows how to use it. Especially since this was during the time when most of the Jedi are nonexistent, it gives him an added depth that I didn't see coming and was pleasantly surprising.
K-2SO: My other favorite character! A reprogrammed Imperial droid that aids the Rebellion is a fun idea and this movie takes full advantage of it! I really love his personality and dry humor. He reminded me of a snarky C-3PO. Excellent addition.
Characters that return are Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, Darth Vader, and Tarkin. All different levels of cameos and fan service, sure but they do make sense given the context of the movie and while it's a treat to see them return, it doesn't take you away from the main plot.
I'll let you know that this film is slow at the beginning. It helps here since, for the most part, we have no idea who these people are and where their motivations lie. So while it has a slow start, halfway through it does pick up and it just doesn't stop until the end.
I would also like to say that as a prequel, it lines up perfectly with Episode IV concerning the events that need to take place and all the great easter eggs for fans of the main series. Nice touches.
This movie was actually pretty enjoyable. Now, I don't think it's as great as Empire Strikes Back or Force Awakens, but it's a nice, refreshing take on the series that's easily the best of the prequels, set in the same world and yet still separate from the Skywalker family being the focus. This was a pretty big gamble and I think they succeeded in this experiment. Gladly look forward to the next standalone films.
Best & Worst of 2016.