This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative.
A Star Is Born has certainly had a lot of versions right? So far none of them have managed to grab a positive score. The first two both got a 5 while the third one got a 3. Can this film finally manage to get the movie into the right position for a win? Well, unfortunately that was not possible. It’s better than the third adaption to be sure but this one’s still just such a bad film through and through. I’m convinced that the premise just can’t work. If a film can’t win after 4 tries then I’d say that means it is time to give up.
The film introduces us to a famous singer named Jack. He’s really made a name for himself. The guy may be a huge alcoholic who has serious issues but so far he has not let it crush his career. He is determined to continue to go about things as always. One day Jack decides he really needs a drink and that’s when he bumps into Ally. She is convinced that she doesn’t look good enough to be famous but Jack eventually gets her on stage and she is a hit. The issue now is that she is quickly growing more popular than him and she doesn’t have the various off the field issues that he has like the alcohol and general mishaps. Can Jack manage to keep Ally down so he stays ahead or will he end up derailing both of their careers.
If you’ve seen any of the previous films then you basically know how this one will end. After all it’s really a remake through and through so it’s not trying to trick you or anything like that. It’s going for pure fundamentals here and telling the story with a modern style. It’s not going for quite as edgy a feel as the last one which I appreciate but still has a ton of scenes that drag on. Jack’s also still a completely unlikable character for me. He just ultimately doesn’t turn the corner to make me root for the guy. By the time he starts to clean up his act the film is basically over so that really hurts his chances of finally being good. The story of his life here is really too little too late.
Granted, Jack is not nearly as bad as in some other versions. Cheating with some random lady midway through the film, landing a blow on the heroine (Albeit accidentally) and things like that don’t happen here as it’s toned down. He still has a variation of the famous Oscars scene of course and most of the usual story moments like insulting Ally and constantly trying to undermine her though. So while he isn’t as bad as he could have been, I still didn’t like him in the slightest. It’s hard to sympathize with him because he should have been so proud of Ally when she got big. His ego proved to be bigger than how much he cared for her which is no good. Of course the addictions aren’t easy to get over so I’ll give him points for going to rehab but it still doesn’t excuse how he tries to hurt Ally’s legacy.
Then of course we have the usual ending for him which is no good. No matter how hopeless things get, taking that way out is never the move. It’s more of an escape to the current dilemmas than dealing with it. I don’t care what Ally’s producer was saying, Jack could have absolutely talked things out with Ally and I think they would have come out at a good space. Instead he took the decision out of both their hands and ultimately it’ll now be a life scarring moment for Ally.
As for Ally, she’s not bad. She does her best to be successful and also tries her best to support Jack as well. She doesn’t let the fame go to her head and at least at first wasn’t quick to just drop everything to take a plane with some guy she barely knew. I wouldn’t say she stands out a whole lot but she has a full character arc with a solid amount of depth. Ally also shows a lot of skill in being able to sing different genres of music.
In general I wouldn’t say any of the songs really stood out to me here. They were all fairly solid I suppose so I wouldn’t call it a bad soundtrack. For a concert film like this you absolutely need to have a strong assortment of songs in order to succeed and these were good enough to work out. The final song is suitably emotional to end the film with. The pacing is also fairly good as I wouldn’t say the film dragged on.
I would have to say the romance wasn’t all that good though. It still feels very rushed no matter how you slice it. Ally doesn’t exactly meet Jack under the greatest of circumstances and he asks her out so quickly that there’s no way to really believe this would last. Naturally he ends up not being quite the person she thought he would be for a while. While he does start to shift at the end, it’s one of those romances that just had a lot of red flags from the start. It all moves far too quickly.
There are a few more supporting characters here than in previous versions. First off we have Ally’s best friend. He’s a supportive guy who helps her out a lot throughout the film. I would say his role is ultimately minor but he really does come through for her whenever she is feeling down. Then you have her father who is a lot of fun. He often talks about how much singing talent he had in his prime and you like to see his confidence. He’s also quite proud of Ally and is always talking her up to his friends. He seems like a great guy and it was nice that Ally had some positive influences around her as opposed to having to deal with everything on her own.
Overall, This version of A Star Is Born is better than the last one but I still wouldn’t call it a good film. The ending isn’t all that great and changing the formula a bit there would have been cool. Additionally the romance is weak and I just didn’t like Jack as a main character. Even Ally is only okay (Great compared to Jack) so the character cast doesn’t do wonders for me either. The film doesn’t drag on but the first half does feel like it gives us more of the origin than we need as the main focus of the film is once the music gets going. At this point I don’t think we’ll be getting a definitive version of the story but I suppose the next version can still give it a good ole try. I would recommend watching one of the first two versions instead of this one though.