Before I get into the movie, I have to talk about the experience of seeing it. My brother asked me if I wanted to see it with him and his step-daughter. I said sure and we decided on the new theater in Altoona (well new to us). When Lindsey and I went to see The Force Awakens, it was really cold outside and there was a huge line to get into the theater. Not for tickets, but for seating. The theater would not allow people in until a certain time. I can understand why, but damn, it was cold. It was also funny because people kept getting in line, but without tickets. They would wait for awhile, then someone would say something the people in line would have to tell them that this line was for seats, they had to go to another line for tickets.
Anyways, I ordered tickets online the other day and did not want to run into a scenario where we could not get seats together. I left work and rushed home to change. I told my brother to meet me there around 5:30 or 6:00, depending on how early I could leave work. They arrived first and as I drove, I sent him the confirmation number for the tickets. I pull in and head inside to find them sitting at a table. They have the tickets and there is no line yet. Oops, we were definitely early. The cool thing with being early? We got a cool picture with some Stormtroopers.
So, on to the movie. Did I like it? Absolutely! I thought it was fantastic and would put it somewhere with TFA. I know my brother liked it more than TFA (and that seems to be the general gist of the reviews I am reading, if you loved TFA, then you are a little down on this, and vice versa).
Okay, before we go any further, if you have not seen the movie, stop reading. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!!!!
The weird thing to me is the number of people who seemed confused about where this movie fit into the Star Wars timeline. I understand some people are not bonafide Star Wars nerds and just have a casual affair with the movies, but when you see the previews and they are talking about stealing the plans for the Death Star and they show Darth Vader, you have to figure this is in the past, right? I actually heard a lady on the way out say “will Darth Vader ever die?” Her friend did laugh at her and said “umm, yeah in Return of the Jedi, this was before that movie.”
Now for my likes/dislikes:
-The plot was pretty straightforward. Jyn’s dad built the Death Star after the Empire murdered his wife (luckily Jyn got away and was raised by crazy militant Rebel Saw Gerrera). He figured his best chance to help the Alliance was to create a very subtle destruction mechanism. An unshielded thermal exhaust port. The joke from ANH is that the Empire spends all of this time and money building a Death Star and yet allows for a small fighter to fire a torpedo right to the core and blow the damn thing up. Now we know, that was intentional.
-Notice that I said Rebel and Alliance. I did enjoy that there are two groups opposing the Empire. The militant Rebels under Saw and the Alliance led by Mon Mothma and Bail Organa. I imagine the cartoon Rebels probably explores this idea a little bit more (I need to finish Clone Wars and then start the next one, so little time!). The members of the Alliance seem to think that providing evidence of the Death Star to the Senate could move them to action against the Emperor. Yeah, something tells me Palpatine will not be hearing anything from the Senate.
-We saw a different side of Star Wars. Normally we see everything from a Jedi point of view. However, this time, we were at ground level. We see normal folks and how they are being treated by the Empire (not good). I also really liked the internal struggle of Cassian Andor. We see him at the beginning shoot a fellow spy to help himself get away from Stormtroopers. He is about to assassinate Jyn’s dad because those are his orders. What is too far when fighting the Empire? If you sink to their level, do you become just as bad as them? Obviously a movie like this is not going to dive too deep into this, but it tries and I liked it. We also see that during the attack on Jedha, the Rebels have no qualms about blowing up Stormtroopers and killing civilians at the same time. Cassian and Jyn both have to save innocents from the battle. Cassian shoots a Rebel and Jyn protects a little girl.
-Another cool thing was that we got to see war. We saw space battles in the original trilogy. The Battles of Hoth and Endor were cool, but they were just minor skirmishes and they focused so much on Luke (or the gang). The Battle of Scarif seemed more chaotic. Also, war on this scale would probably bounce from planet to planet. Which was another great thing! We saw a bunch of places.
-Jyn was totally a badass. Star Wars has some amazing female characters. Princess Leia, Rey, Padme, and now Jyn Erso. One of the big shocks was how the previews made her seem like she was going to be a reluctant participant. Instead, she was on board with stopping the Death Star and bringing hope to the Rebellion fairly early.
-I loved the ending. I was right that the movie would end with the plans somehow falling into the hands of Princess Leia. I did not think it would actually be her. The CGI Leia was amazing. The CGI Tarkin…well it was cool at first, but the more he interacted with other characters, the more it felt off. I still liked seeing him though. I always thought Peter Cushing was so menacing in that role and wish we saw more of the Grand Moff. Every line he delivers in ANH has such gravity and menace (or maybe sting, he has that sneer built into his voice, so hard to explain).
-The attack on the main ship by Vader. Damn! He looked pretty impressive. He just cuts down all of the Rebel soldiers and the plans barely escape his grasp. One thing I did hate though was his line earlier in the film while he choked Director Krennic “do not choke on your own aspirations.” Or whatever it was. It was like they tried a little too hard to recreate the great “do not be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed…” scene. And yes, another excuse for a video!
-It was pretty obvious that everyone would die at the end. I mean, if Jyn and Cassian survived, I am sure they would have been mentioned or used on one of the missions in the next movie. Speaking of characters who did survive. I loved the cameos from the pilots from the Death Star attack! Red Leader and few others. I hope everyone noticed that there was a reason why Luke was Red Five, the previous one died a fiery death.
-I thought the cameos were done just right. It made sense to have C-3PO and R2 show up, I mean obviously they had to be on the ship with Princess Leia. I was glad that the movie did not try to rope in more cameos. I would have been upset if the Millenium Falcon made an appearance or if Boba Fett was involved (I heard that rumor initially, glad it did not pan out).
-I liked the other characters. They were all unique and had their cool moments. Each death was pretty sad. I think the most emotional was actually K-2SO. The reprogrammed Imperial droid was funny, sarcastic, but also pretty badass. It was definitely a welcome surprise. Also, it helps that Alan Tudyk voiced the droid. I was shocked by Baze and Chirrut. They were not what I was expecting. I figured the big dude with giant guns would be the one with a sense of humor and that Chirrut would be some former Jedi-trainee maybe, who was always super serious. I guess I was wrong. Chirrut was actually pretty funny at times. Their deaths also were pretty good (or sad, whatever).
-One complaint I had was probably about the plan. They never really seemed to have a plan. They just went places and attacked. I was hoping that the infiltration of Scarif would be a little more spy-esque. I was hoping for Oceans 11 style plans and plots. If George Clooney started narrating the plan, even better (as long as Brad Pitt is their to interject!).
-And my last complaint (and this fits TFA as well): traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dustin’ crops! Nor is it instantaneous. Do you remember in ANH when Luke and Obi-Wan leave with Han and Chewie? They blast their way out of Mos Eisley and head to Alderaan. They obviously have some time since Luke practices with the drone and R2 and Chewbacca play a nice game of dejarik. If it only took a minute or two, they would probably not even bother to get up out of their seats. I know, a minor beef.
Okay, well that does it. Like I said, I really liked the movie. Cannot wait to see it again. Let me know what you thought of it.