The true next step in the gundam franchise. While enjoying unicorn, narrative left alot to be desired for mainline UC gundam, hathaways flash returns to original creator in the form of adapting his novel, which takes place between chars counter attack and F91.
I would argue if you have a basic idea of gunam and char and amuros relationship. Then you can jump right into this and appreciate their discussion of war, politics, and the fate of humanity and earth. With discussions that could've been picked from right out of the 50 year old show and still be just as prevalent today.
Like all of mainline gundam, this movie isn't just a 1 dimensional take on war, sacrifice, and inevitability, it forces the character to weigh his actions, and his humanity. Even if you dont agree with everybody's actions (1 character in particular seemed to go somewhat far, though it was a brief second, and it is military) but you understand why they would given the state of things, or rather, whats on the horizon.
Its a great start, that being said, the ending kind of petered out a bit (the very ending, so like last minute kind of thing), though not disappointing, just kind of lacking some definitiveness, of course being a part of a trilogy, this is to be expected, but not excused.
The main battle scene of this movie is some of the gundam franchises' best. It really illustrated what war would be like with mobile suits, they felt like giant titans clashing with us humans at their whim, if even considered. Youre reminded about how big, destructive, and oppressive these machines are, and it also serves to just make the piloting look that much more impressive and special.
If anything, watch this film for how it looks, because damn, is it beautiful, and the music is just as good as what we've come to expect from gundam. They pulled out all the stops and made something truely great.