I said I'd write this right after I saw it, but I've been sitting on it. Sorry about that.

Non-spoilery part:

In general, I rate the movie 3 of 5 stars. I think I'm going to largely agree with some of the non Star Wars fan critics, that if you take the "Star Wars" out of the equation, it isn't that great of a movie on its own. I think some of the things that could have been really good about the movie suffered from what looks like pretty extensive rewrites, which makes it feel like some threads got left hanging; cut mostly but not completely. And other threads got extended.

I think too much effort was spent on fan service. Not that I didn't love it, but every scene that includes someone recognizable that doesn't add anything to the actual story diminishes the movie itself, even while providing a shriek of delight. Some of them were exceptionally well integrated. Others not so much.

I think the attempt at CGI was brilliant and ground breaking and utterly not as successful as it could have been, but I'm able to forgive that. However, for some people the CGI threw them right out of the experience. I understand that, but I don't think they could have done better with today's technology. On the other hand, the things they did in that movie may well improve things such that in a few years, we'll be seeing that kind of thing quite regularly, and it will be good enough to work for most.

Criticisms aside, I don't want to diminish their accomplishments. I loved the main cast, I loved Chirrut, I loved Jyn, I loved Cassian. I think Jyn's story was a good one; I think Chirrut and Baze had an excellent story. I think other characters should've had either more or less.

I think there are three major areas that they failed at that would've made this an exceptional movie. Talking about them will be spoilers, so don't proceed beyond the cut if you don't wish to be spoiled.

Problem #1: No depth on Krennic. To be fair, this is always a hard one to pull off. Certainly Palpatine never really had any depth, and Vader didn't either. Let's be honest; any depth that Vader had came from his relationship to Luke, which we didn't even know about until near the end of the second movie, and the sheer menace in his characterization and voice acting. Vader was terrifying, especially to those of us who were introduced to him as children. Though honestly, in Star Wars, as an adult, I find Tarkin to be the much more compelling Villain than Vader, and I've always wanted more on Tarkin and his relationship with Vader and Palpatine.

In this case, though, I never really felt much for Krennic. Yeah yeah the Death Star was his baby, and he was willing to stop at nothing to cement his legacy. Got that, but I just didn't feel anything for it. And without that, he just wasn't that compelling of a villain.

Problem #2: Bodhi. His performance was excellent, but his character was massively short-shrift. We know absolutely nothing about him; he was a lynchpin to everything, and he is the pilot who defected. There are massive hooks in his character that could've been used to both give him depth and fluidly motivate other characters that weren't used. Saw's torturing of him was pointless; it was supposed to show us how far Saw would go, but then Saw dies and Bodhi has no (plot-affecting) after effects. For awhile he's dazed and out of it, and the actor does a great job of showing his slow recovery but it never really has an affect on anything. So the entire scene was wasted.

But moreso: Bodhi is should have been a seriously motivating factor for two different characters: He knew Galen, Galen convinced him to defect and take a message to Saw. Can you imagine the conversation that should have happened between him and Jyn? There was time to have it between Jedha and Eadu.

Imagine a three way conversation with Jyn, Cassian and Bodhi, where Bodhi emotionally explains how he was a loyalist for the Empire, and over the course of months or years, Galen slowly convinced him that he was on the wrong side, and that he finally understood what was coming, and that he was willing to give up his life on Galen Erso's word alone to do something about it.

Now imagine Cassian with his rifle trained on Galen's head, remembering that conversation, torn between orders, the sheer despair of what the Rebellion is up against, and the knowledge -- perhaps not fully believed yet -- of what Galen had been doing.

Imagine a scene Jyn, full of love and grief for her father after his death, with Bodhi comforting her and her realizing that Bodhi needs the same comfort! Now imagine how these two characters will act with a stronger bond, later, when they pull together the team to go steal the plans.

Problem #3: The Alliance for the Restoration of the Republic. This is more of a failure to do proper service to the Star Wars universe than the story, but look: They had Mon Mothma and Bail Organa, two characters who appeared in the prequels, with a pre-established relationship. Both of them leaders of the Rebellion as well as leaders of systems and leaders in the Senate. They've worked together for the last two decades, watching Palpatine take more and more control over the galaxy and they've got to be feeling more and more despair, because comparatively, they have nothing but some hope.

Yeah, but we didn't see any of that. Instead, some of the most important lines were given to some characters we've never seen before nor will see again. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they gave a black woman some powerful lines, it helps the whole diversity issue they were going for, but you still could have that character, involve Bail more, and make it more of a conversation and less of a series of monologues with a crowd of people. It felt disjointed and not very useful.

But more than that; the character giving Cassian orders...what if that were Bail Organa? That's right, after twenty years of this, Bail is really feeling the desperation. The audience knows who Bail is (and for those who don't, then he's essentially the same as the character who was there anyway), and that he's an incredibly kind, generous person, who is feeling the impending doom coming and feeling unable to stop it. Turning desperate, and contemplating adopting tactics that even a few years ago he found, and still finds abhorrent. Give him a conversation with Mon Mothma where she is appalled he gave that order, but eventually capitulates because for the Rebellion, life kind of sucks, and it's about to suck a whole lot more.

Ultimately, they had Jimmy Smits and they WASTED him. All he got to do was vaguely mention Leia, really. Instead, he should've been used to show us who the Alliance really is, what they're really up against, and how afraid and determined they are, and how they've realized that they're probably all going to ultimately sacrifice everything with only the slimmest hopes of achieving their goals. Because they don't feel like they have a choice. Remember, Bail Organa goes home and dies right after this; that character deserved a swan song.

To me, that was the biggest error of all they made.


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