Here is the big one. There are still plenty of films that I am looking forward to seeing before the year has come to a close, but nothing beats the excitement before a new Star Wars film. This is the first spin-off film and I have to say it is pretty good. It is not great, but I had a really good time with it and am looking forward to all of the future spin-off films.
I’m one with the Force, and the Force is with me.
I am going to preface by saying that it may seem like I am overly critical of this film, despite liking it quite a bit. This is only because Star Wars means a lot to me and the little things stick out. With that said, I want to focus on the positives first. Biggest positive I can give this film is that it progressively gets better. The second and third acts of this film are both quite great. There is a great build up followed by a fantastic climax. The second act is where our heroes come together and the threat is clearly laid out. Even though the characters are not fully developed, I was given enough to care about them. Each character felt unique and they all came together in a fairly believable way. The third act is where this band of rebels takes on the Empire in an attempt to steal the Death Star plans. This third act is action packed, but there are also some beautiful quieter moments that I really appreciated. Aside for a few problems, the plot in this film is quite good. The acting is also a highlight. Even though I believe the entire cast did a great job, the highlights are: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, and every rebel killed by Vader.
Each of these actors brought considerable realism to their roles which really grounded their characters. Since I mentioned it, I might as well gush: I LOVE THAT SEQUENCE WITH VADER. The first sequence is really interesting and sheds some light on Vader’s personal life. However, that final sequence where he is destroying all those rebels is something special. It showed how powerful and merciless the Sith Lord is. Ever since this film was announced I was hoping there would be a scene where Vader just mows down a couple of Rebels. It was the perfect length and I mean what I said: those actors did a phenomenal job because I felt their terror. I am glad at how they only used Vader in two scenes. Had he been in the film more he would have overshadowed the rest of the characters.
Make ten men feel like a hundred.
I did thoroughly enjoy the film, but I did have some problems. The first act of the film felt very rushed. We were bombarded with a bunch of characters and jumped from planet to planet. It felt like an incomplete sentence. The film would cut to a different scene before completing a well-rounded thought. The pacing certainly improved as the film went on, but it was problematic when it began. Another major issue is the CGI. While often times it was breathtaking, the CGI representations of Tarkin and Leia were not very good. Occasionally the Tarkin model looked quite convincing, but it was only when he was not speaking. Whenever he was on screen I was pulled out of the film completely. Another villain, Darth Vader himself, did not look quite as good either. Vader’s helmet looked a little too loose for him. I do not know why and maybe that is just me, but I thought it looked strange. Finally the writing meanders. Occasionally the logic is sound and the dialogue is good, but other times the dialogue is mediocre and logic is thrown out the window.
I know it is a Star Wars film and it does not need sound logic, but with the tone that this film was trying to convey I believe it should have had more logic than it did (in certain scenes at least). Finally I need to touch on the opening titles and lack of an opening crawl. The title was very poorly done. I do not understand how anyone said “Yeah that looks fine”. It was something I could do in about 1 minute. As far as the opening crawl, it would have helped provide some context for the film. When the film starts we do not really know some of the character’s motivations and the crawl could have helped provide context. For instance, after some research I learned about how Krennic started off in the Empire from the very bottom and clawed his way up. Fitting this in an opening crawl or having a scene elaborate on this would have benefited his characters’ development. Not to say that he is a bad character, which he is not, but he certainly could have been more fleshed out.
I know a lot of people love this film, but I merely like it. I think it is well constructed but has some flaws the prevent it from reaching the heights of the great Star Wars films. Is this still worth checking out? Absolutely. It has some of the very best Star Wars moments (Vader scene is probably top 5 favorite moments now) along with a great ending that leads into A New Hope (aside from a bad final line).