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NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: The first “non-core” Star Wars flick that doesn’t deal with the main trilogy characters but ties in to the story and has a few cameos from some of ’em anyway. Beginning 34 years before Episode IV, Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2), daughter of the lead scientist behind the Empire’s Death Star, is recruited by the Resistance and teams up with a motley crew to grab the design plans so Princess Leia can eventually give them to R2D2 in “A New Hope.”
Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy (from a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta). Directed by Gareth (GODZILLA) Edwards.
- Good story. I was actually able to follow along and understand what was going on, where people were going, and more important, why they were doing it. Although there were a bunch of typically weird planet/city names thrown on screen during the first 20 minutes, I was able to pretty much keep track of it all, which is good for me. (The character names, however, not so much, which is normal.)
- The city and creature effects were what we’ve come to expect, which is great; but at this point it’s not so much a plus as “not a minus” if you know what I mean. If it’s a SW film, the FX must be state-of-the-art.
- Most of thecasting was great. My favorites were (real martial artist) Donnie Yen as the blind, Force-driven, badass monk Chirrut Imwe (good luck spelling that one when you only hear it), Wen Jiang as his giant, big-gun-toting pal Baze Malbus, and Alan (FIREFLY, CON MAN) Tudyk as voice for the reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO. Watching the blind guy fight was like a ballet of beat-down; he’s better than every sighted fighter in the series. The droid has a sarcasm streak and says “whatever comes into his circuits,” which makes for some entertaining lines, more than C-3PO ever had. Would love to see more of them all.
- Nice to see “Peter Cushing” again as Grand Moff Tarkin, thanks to another actor and heavy CGI. (See “cons” below for more.) Also smart to have the whole Imperial rivalry/politicking and in-fighting between him, Krennic (Death Star project leader), and their more famous higher-up. Same with the bickering amongst the Rebel council members. Anyone familiar with corporate or union America or politics will recognize all the back-stabbing and bullying as totally normal!
- Very cool battle/fight scenes, whether indoors, outdoors, terrestrial or extra, mechanical or natural. The monk and his buds against the Imperial troops on Jedha was my favorite, but the space battles will bring back memories of the original trilogy. (Also dug the cool-looking Imperial fighters with adjustable wings).
- Plenty of action; as one guy put it, this is a war movie. There’s no love story, no romance, no joyous palace celebrations or award ceremonies, and barely any quippy banter other than with/from K-2SO. (Bad for some, good for Bru. The less romance, the better. Although I can always use more sex; and this has none, of course…But there is a nice half-second ECU of Jyn’s heinie near the end that I’d freeze frame for about three or four minutes.)
- Truly a diverse cast; we finally get a couple Asians in major roles, an old black guy, a Middle-Eastern millennial and a Frog. As un-PC as I am, it made perfect sense here, because if you’re surrounded by alien life forms of every conceivable type, why the $%#@ would most of the humans be Anglos? I really liked having a diverse cast this time, with the exception of Frenchie and the choice of girl (see “cons” below).
- Nice bits and treats throughout for fans of the original trilogy, especially at the end. Makes you want to see Episode IV again, and look for any references that you missed. (Blink and you’ll miss one of the cameos.)
- The 3D was nothing more than a cheap cash-grab. Very disappointing. Other than one scene with a huge mechanical tower looking down (sound familiar?) and a couple others, there’s nothing that takes advantage of the format. Worse, it gave the whole movie a muted, darkened look, even during daylight scenes. Screw it!
- Speaking of towers, there are several things/themes/scenes repeated from other Star Wars movies to the point where you wonder where the “wink-wink” ends and the “yawn-yawn” begins. Tribute or lazy writing?
- As great as the effects are, the CG on old/dead actors just isn’t up to the rest of it. While I applaud the balls of the movie makers for showing them in full light and closeup and not shying away, the eyes give them away—they just look ever so creepy, with a smidge of that POLAR EXPRESS/FINAL FANTASY thing going on. (And one character’s eyes are nearly cross-eyed in one shot.) One of the actors is still around and has been in newer movies, so I don’t know why they didn’t just shoot the real one and remove the aging, rather than use a stand-in and CG them into the old character.
- A couple minor Suspension Of Disbelief Department entries where certain coincidences happen too easily and some troopers are conveniently bad shots, but I expect that kind of thing by now.
- Like I said, it’s a war movie. So be prepared for a lot of gritty (but not gory) violence and death. (Entire cities that get blown up are seen not just from space.) And we know from past eps that major characters can be fair game too, so you may be bummed like I was.
- Felicity Jones is a fine actress (though I wish she’d shown some boobage like she did in INFERNO) and all that, but she’s not as “root-worthy” or personable/expressive as Daisy Ridley was in THE FORCE AWAKENS. And why two white skinny Brit babes in a row?
- That French accent just makes me nuts. I know it’s a nod to the French Resistance of WW II (and many of those guys were badasses), but the Jean Claude Van Damme voice just makes me think of food. (Yeah, I want fries with that!)
- No buttons at the end, during or after the credits. Damn you, Marvel, you ruined me!
Star Wars fans will definitely BUY IT for the franchise collection (not to mention whatever extras), but everyone knows a SW film simply demands to be seen on the giant screen to fully appreciate and experience it. The Force of entertainment is strong with this one.
P.S.: Why not get a Star Wars art for yourself or a friend for the ho-ho-holidays and beyond? Pascale can draw any character you like or even you or someone you like as a character. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, the Empire, the Resistance, skinny British chicks, droids, villains, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, Darth Sidious, Darth Ridiculous or any other character in the universe. The Force is weak with Bru-Hed, except when he forces himself to write this crap.