Going to see this film was procrastination from a busy work day as is writing this, so I’ll try to keep it brief so I can get cracking on better things. I’m not a huge fan of Star Wars having never seen the original trilogy and my recollection of the prequels is spotty at best but I like watching new movies and keeping up to date with things and I’d heard this was a gritty war movie take on the franchise.
This was an extremely frustrating film to watch, not only because the concept could have been awesome, but also some of the very questionable creative decisions behind it. So for example, the film opens with our protagonist Jyn watching her mother get killed and father taken away to work for the empire, we get re-shown this sequence in flashbacks about 15-20 minutes later for no added benefit. There are many instances of this kind of needless screenwriting, in the battle for Scarif, we constantly get put into the cockpits of pilots in the fight, I get that this is a call back to the old films but its totally pointless. We don’t need to see a pilot exclaim ‘We’re going down!’ right before the ship hits the ground, we already know there’s someone in there and we know exactly as much about their character as we did before, all it does is remove us from the action. There are lots of instances of implied action, we’ll see a gun get fired or we’ll see a stormtrooper get hit but totally in isolation, these shots hold no weight at all. That being said there were some action sequences with the potential for strong action, and one action sequence at the end which was pretty awesome, but the action fell flat due to the characters. I personally need to be invested in the characters I’m watching to be invested in the action and for the action to feel like it has stakes. To this film’s credit, it certainly does have stakes as (spoilers) all the main characters die in the fight on Scarif, but it doesn’t live up to it’s potential because hoow can we care about such thinly written characters. Not only do the characters have no depth beyond, nervous, mystic blind asian cliche or long hair with a gun, but none of the actors are capable of delivering good performances, largely due to their ridiculous dialogue. I generally like Felicity Jones as an actress and she does a good job with her silent reactions and the scenes relating to her father, however she isn’t believable as an action hero or a leader although she does her best and comes out the strongest of the lot acting wise. Whilst talking about the actors: DISNEY, STOP HIRING MADS MIKKELSEN ONLY TO NOT ACTUALLY UTILISE HIS TALENT!
One thing I did enjoy was seeing a nice variety of planets with interesting and distinct locales, I though Jedhur was a particularly interesting location. However the motivation for blowing it up was unclear until a couple of scenes later when it was explained to be the last bastion of the Jedi, which left that sequence feeling like a poor excuse to do an Independence Day 2-esque cgi sequence of destruction, rubble and flying. Whilst a more savvy viewer who is familiar with the lore might have figured this out more quickly, as a casual viewer I was left thinking, why don’t they test it on pretty much anywhere else on the planet which was desolate as they end up whining about backlash from it anyway? There are a few examples of this seemingly thoughtless plotting, for example Saw Guerrera for some inexplicable reason refusing to leave his crumbling base only to then leave the base and watch out the doorway and so on.
Credit has to go to Gareth Edward’s eye for scale, the Death Star and various other space ships and the AT ATs did look genuinely imposing, he really has an eye for the colossal, as evidenced in his superior debut Monsters. The score was in line with classic Star Wars, but in ways that I didn’t experience in The Force Awakens, it often times took me out of the action due to how over the top it was, although perhaps I was never really in the action in the first place. I honestly cannot say I enjoyed this film, but neither did I hate it, if I’m being perfectly honest, for blockbusters last year, I much preferred Warcraft and in the case of a night where you might consider this, I’d suggest watching District 9 instead.