Directed by: Gareth Edwards. As I probably stated in last year’s post about The Force Awakens, I’m hopelessly enthralled to this franchise, and there’s no way I’d ever miss this. Like all of these kind of things, if they just shit the bed and phone it in and fuck the dog and jump the shark enough times, I think I’d have the wherewithal to walk away—I’m not crazy. But this looked to be a solid, entertaining action adventure space movie set in the Star Wars movie, and it definitely was all of those things. To avoid getting deep into a nerd-out, I’ll skim past the particulars of the movie itself—I found the movie to be a pretty unimpeachably fun, engaging 2 hours, and having no knowledge of any re-shoots or alternate endings or whatnot was probably better for my enjoyment I think. The acting is all quite good, and I was happy to follow along with Felicity Jones and Diego Luna for the duration. Their rapport was respectable and believable. Star turns from Forest Whittaker and Mads Mikkelsen were totally top-notch, and it was great to see the great Aussie actor Ben Mendelsohn get to dig into a great cinematic villain, one of the best in the Star Wars universe (a lot better than anything in Force Awakens tbh), and one of the best parts of the movie to watch in my opinion. I didn’t even recognize the great Donnie Yen (who I just saw in Kill Zone), looking much older and blinder in this movie. I did recognize the great Riz Ahmed, who I’d like to see more of, in this movie, but also in general. I didn’t know Alan Tudyk, but I liked that robot a lot. Beyond that, I have to point out the not-great parts. I’m not against the weird, uncanny, CGI grave-robbing of Peter Cushing on principle (although I respect and understand that those who knew the man might be pretty mortified), but it did give me pause. Is this a great direction to go in? It was a neat trick, but honestly, it probably would have been better to keep it to one scene, and probably mostly the part where he’s facing the window and all we see is an eerie, uncanny reflection. To spin him around and have him engage in a full dialogue, beyond 1 or 2 lines, for a collected 8 minutes or so of screentime, was like seeing the shark in Jaws for too long, you know? You have to ask yourself if it was really necessary for the story. They had an actor to play Mon Mothma, why not an actor to play Tarkin? Or just write it in such a way that not very much face-to-face is necessary? The meeting with Darth Vader, frankly, was way too much, none of that needed to happen, especially the intimate look at his ecto chamber thing. Or if they had to introduce him in order to make it less jarring when he enters at the final scene, then a dramatic, shadow-shrouded glimpse, in a discussion with Tarkin maybe, would have been better I think than having a frank and pun-filled conversation with some underling like Krennic. And as for the eerie CGI usage of Carrie Fisher’s likeness, I thought that in particular was a bit too on-the-nose and misused a bit, and I don’t think so just because today is the tragic day that she has passed away. I think indirection would have been better for that—we are fans, we’ll fill in the blanks, you don’t need to have everything full-frontal for us. But in general, it was a lovely movie, and I think it will merit more re-watches than The Force Awakens. But that being said, there’s no way I’m going to miss Episode 8.