Without exaggeration, this is easily the best offering in the franchise since ‘Return of the Jedi’. Yes, it is a spin-off of a simple set-up line from the original film, but it manages to really craft it’s own story around the demands of where the plot has to go by the end. While it’s definitely not a character driven movie, I was surprised with the amount of time given to our key protagonists and the effort to at least make them intriguing.
The idea of another prequel movie was a hard sell; but unlike the prequel (and for that matter, the sequel) trilogy, this manages to tell it’s own story within the structure of a lead-up to an event to which we already know the outcome. Felicity Jones and Diego Luna are especially effective along with secondary characters like those played by Riz Ahmed and Donnie Yen becoming easy fan favorites. Ben Mendelsohn is great as always as Krennic despite not being given much dimension as a main villain.
The character of Saw Guerrera (Forest Whitaker) seems a little cut-up and while I understand the character is better informed by one of the animated series, what we have in the film seems like it may have been a little more beefed up in earlier edits of the movie.
One thing I hear from people who don’t care for this movie is the amount of fan-service moments. Random appearances of old characters or species, call-backs to famous lines and some easter-egg visuals can be a little distracting and if you don’t care for that self-indulgent stuff, you’ll definitely notice it here. Personally, it never really bothered me apart from one instance that lasts 5 seconds.
On a final note, while the decision to include Darth Vader was inevitable for this movie, I was so glad to see they did a little more than give him a short cameo appearance and actually give him a moment or two without leaning on him too much as a crutch to distract the audience.
If you love old Star Wars and couldn’t care less about the two superfluous trilogies that followed, consider giving this a try.
Review by switchboard85