I love that it starts without the traditional scrolling text. This Star Wars story is more urgent, less epic–but not less significant!
I love that the first visual we get is disorienting, planet rings from below half-blocked by the planet’s shadow, and you’re not sure what you’re even looking at until it changes perspective and now we see, ah, there’s the planet, and now the rings and the shadow make sense. Because this film’s story is looking at a series we’re familiar with, but from a very different perspective than we’ve seen before. The other side of the rings!
I love K-2SO. A snarky droid after my own heart!
I love Captain Cassian Andor. He’s dreamy!!
**spoilery things i loved below**
I love the scene after the rebel council has declined to act on Jyn’s message that they need to get the plans from Scarif, when Cassian says, “They were never gonna believe you. But I do. I believe you,” and then they go to Scarif together. I know this movie doesn’t have a “love story” but Captain Cassian saying “I believe you [and I’ll follow your lead on a super-dangerous mission with little to no chance of success because it’s the right thing to do and I haven’t always done the right thing but now I’m trying to atone for that]” is dead romantic.
I love that every member of the Erso family said “you will never win”to Krennic before they died.
I loved that different people rebelled against the Empire in different ways–that the Rebel Alliance was fractured, and talked about how Saw Gerrera was an “extremist” not with them anymore, and later disagreed about what to do. Because it’s more realistic, and helps explain why they were unable to maintain their victory after Return of the Jedi so that in The Force Awakens the Empire is still basically a renamed threat. I also loved that Galen Erso’s rebellion was to work for the Empire, “because I knew they’d build it without me anyway,” but plant a secret weakness. Was this the right move? Was it really rebelling? It’s controversial! But I think life is like that, it’s complicated, we all come from different places with different skills and in different settings and we all have to evaluate, what does it look like for me to resist tyranny?
I love that Chirrut was so in tune with the Force even though he wasn’t a Jedi, and that he repeated his “I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me” mantra. I loved that Baze didn’t repeat the mantra until Chirrut’s death, and then he did it in reverse order–“The Force is with me, and I am one with the Force.” Because Chirrut spent his life reaching out to the Force (“I am one with the Force..”) and Baze spent his life until that moment resisting the Force that was reaching out to him (“The Force is with me…”) but it is a cycle and they are both halves of a chiastic whole.
I love that so many different people had such seemingly small but totally crucial tasks. K-2 locating the plans, holding off the storm troopers, and locking the door so Jyn and Cassian can retrieve the plans. The pilot, connecting the communication lines so Jyn can beam the plans out. Chirrut, moving the switch so the comm line works. The x-wing pilots giving cover to the troops on the beach. The hammerhead crew that sacrifices themselves with their ship to push the star destroyer into the shield, so the plans can be beamed out.
I love that everyone dies. I mean, it’s heartbreaking, I wished they had lived! But I love that we get this story, because sometimes, a lot of times, the good guys do get mown down in the fight against evil. We can’t all be the “chosen one” but we can all do our part to resist evil, and if our story is cut short it doesn’t mean we’re less heroic or less crucial. I know this wasn’t the reaction everybody had to the ending, though.
I love the hallway scene at the end, when Darth Vader is mowing down rebels as they relay the baton of that data card with the newly obtained Death Star plans from one doomed rebel to the next, until it gets to the ship that’s able to break away. Because it reinforces the theme that everybody’s contribution is essential, that you give everything you have, take every chance until you win or until there are no more chances.
One criticism of the film that I read and subsequently couldn’t shake was this one on changes to the story that would have made it stronger–I hadn’t noticed all of these weaknesses of character motivation or plot explanations, but now that they and their would-be solutions have been pointed out I wonder if I’ll be able to enjoy it as much on repeat viewings. (I think so…all the above things I liked are still true. But it’s important to be realistic about the flaws of your faves.)