Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story


I am the worst kind of Star Wars nerd. I LOVE the original trilogy, and read a ton of EU in my teen years. I've since forgotten most of what I knew (which was a lot), but I still cling to the good ole days, before the OT was re-released with that celebratory scene on Coruscant that MADE NO SCENE. SERIOUSLY, IT TAKES TIME FOR NEWS TO TRAVEL TO THE CENTRE OF THE GALAXY WHERE THE EMPIRE IS STILL VERY MUCH IN CHARGE.

Hearing the expanded universe was deleted upon the release of The Force Awakens was tough. But I got over it (read: myself) and enjoyed the film for the fun adventure it was. Rogue One was pretty good minus the incomprehensible decision to cut away from the super star destroyer crashing into the shield generator, and the equally stupid idea to name a planet Jedha. And with the exception of one wholly unnecessary space Monaco sequence, The Last Jedi was a great ride.

All this is to say, I got on board with the new crop of Star Wars movies, which was no mean feat given the giant kick in the nuts that was the prequels. But then along came Solo: A Star Wars Story and all its bad press and even worse trailers. (Also, I might add the marketing: Memorial Day is meaningless to people outside the United States, so plastering that all over the initial advertisements kind of alienates non-US audiences.) I was not looking forward to this movie. Seeing it was a chore, and I paid the least amount of money I could--five whole dollars.

Did I get my money's worth? I guess so. Solo is really just a big heist movie, and probably owes more to Firefly than any part of the Star Wars EU, old or new. That having been said, it does include more nods to the OT than any other Star Wars film to date, but it'll still take me a while to accept the new version of how Han and Chewie met. Also there's not a wipe to be seen.

More bad news: poster plagiarism?

I didn't walk out of the theatre hating Solo, and as I stood on the subway platform, waiting for the northbound train, I thought I'd probably like the movie even more once I'm further separated from it in time. It's now been about two hours since I the credits ended, and while I'm still not prepared to say I liked the movie, I'll admit that it's not nearly as bad as I imagined.

Still, there are some nits that I can't help but pick. Like how Enfys Nest's theme sounds a lot like the choral pieces from the 1995 Ghost in the Shell soundtrack. And when Enfys takes off her helmet and we see her for the first time, it's shot and scored as a big moment except that we have no idea who she is. What'st the point of building up this reveal for a character we don't know? Finally, with respect to Enfys, there's a missed opportunity when she's talking about what the coaxium represents; not once does she say the word hope. I could go on about how Alden Ehrenreich seems like he's channeling Chris Pine's Kirk, or about Qi'ra's grossly underwritten backstory, but I'll save it for another rant (be sure to check out TheAvod episode 437!).

Solo doesn't do anything to enrich the story which unfolds in the other Star Wars movies. It's a stand-alone, a one-off that ends with a tie-in to A New Hope and...The Phantom Menace?!? On the one hand, I'm glad the film is a self-contained adventure, but on the other hand, it doesn't feel like a Star Wars movie. Yeah, there's an Empire and whatnot, but the story being told could be about any rag-tag band of thieves stealing anything in any universe (see Firefly comment above).

The ultimate test of whether this film passes muster is if I'll see it again. And the answer is probably. On Netflix. Which is more than I can say for Rogue One or The Last Jedi, two films I liked better but have yet to watch a second time. Make of that what you will.

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