I am going to start off by saying that this post by saying that I am not going to hold back on spoilers. Okay that’s out of the way.
I have been waiting for this movie for a long time and it has completely restored my faith in the Disney Star Wars franchise (The Force Awakens did a good start but lets be honest after some of the plot points of the prequels we needed this). This movie is fantastic, I imagine that this is how we were supposed to feel after Episode I in 1999. I unabashedly give it a 10/10 and the only one of the saga that still beats it is Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. This might seem a little much and I do have some criticisms of it but seriously one of my favorite movies of the Star Wars Universe.
First off, the movie lacks a traditional John Williams score. I think that the music is not really memorable for the majority of the film. For the most part it does not detract from the film but there are instances where it definitely does not help the film out or felt slightly campy.
The CGI was a little awkward as they brought back Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin for certain scenes. At first I did not notice it too much but there were instances that made it a little uncomfortable. This wasn’t awful but I felt that they could have done better with this.
Plot points, overall they did fantastic. I felt that there were a few holes where I needed to suspend disbelief: such as the woman dooming her husband (and herself) by threatening the death troopers with only a blaster or that Cassian (Diego Luna) landed on his back on a metal pole but was still able to rescue Jyn (Felicity Jones) from Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn). Also who builds a control panel 60 feet out on a plank?
The first half of the movie builds slowly, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but something to be aware of. In addition, I wish that they had more fully developed the character of Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker).
Those are my major complaints with the movie. Now here are the positives.
First off, the acting was absolutely fantastic. In terms of acting I think that this was the best out of the Star Wars anthology. The voices of K-2SO (Alan Tudyk) and Tarkin (Guy Henry) were great and the rest of the actors just carried their parts beautifully.
The visuals of the movie complemented what we see in Episode IV in addition to adding new aspects (the CGI of Tarkin and Leia being slight exceptions). I received such a rush when I saw the X-Wings fly through the air destroying AT-ATs or when the two Star Destroyers crashed into the shield over the planet. In addition, the massive space battle at the end’s use of spectacular effects was incredible. They spliced in some of the rebel pilots from Episode IV: A New Hope which added a nice touch.
Speaking of battles, the end battle on the planet of Scarif was easily one of the most fantastic battles of the Star Wars series. It wasn’t on a massive scale like Geonosis, Endor, or Naboo but instead it was a small squad of soldiers fighting a larger army and from what I understand they emulated tactics that were used in actual warfare (feel free to correct me here if that is inaccurate).
The characters themselves were fantastic. The relationships between them were all fantastic. They did not force a relationship between Jyn and Cassian (it was implied but there was not any major discussion about sand being coarse, rough and getting everywhere). The friendship/bromance between Chirrut Imwe (Donnie Yen) and Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen) was absolutely beautiful. They watched each other’s backs for the entirety of the movie and were quite quippy. Finally Alan Tudyk voicing K-2SO as the sarcastic droid stole the majority of the movie. Such as when Jyn shot a droid that looked just like him and he had to ask whether or not she knew it was him.
Nostalgia added a nice dose to the story, the characters of Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, and Vader did beautifully. They tied it all in with a New Hope with a few references to the prequels and TV series.
Most of all though, the story flowed. They introduced new places (like Jedda) and kept old places (like Yavin IV). The story just worked well together and if there were plot holes they were minor enough that they could be explained or wanted us to know more (which I am sure there will be more such as books or movies). They took a small part of the opening scrawl of Episode IV and made a movie out of it and it worked wonderfully.
What brought this movie to an 8/10 to a 10/10 was the final scene with Darth Vader. The Rebels have just stolen the plans to the Death Star and are escaping onto the Tantive IV and the blast door is just slightly ajar. As they desperately try to open the door the lights cut out and the camera pans to the other side as a red saber erupts from a hilt. Darth Vader then just cuts down soldier after soldier, shooting blaster bolts back to the soldiers, using the force to slam soldiers into the roof, as he makes his way to the rebel with the death star plans. The rebel yells to someone to take the plans as Darth Vader stabs him through the heart and the blast door, the rebel on the other side of the door grabs the plans and runs like hell to the door and releases the blast door as the Tantive IV jumps into hyperspace. That was the scene that changed my opinion of the movie entirely.
All in all this movie has become my 2nd favorite Star Wars Movie right behind the Empire