Tag Archives: solo

The New Star Wars Movies – Why Disney is Screwing it Up

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Hey 3.5 readers.

Oddly, “Solo” did poorly at the box office, even though I think it was pretty good.  Out of the four new films, “Rogue One” and “Solo” are the only ones I’m interested in watching again.  “Force Awakens” and “Last Jedi” are drek.

Which leads me to a conclusion – “Star Wars” only works during the period of the Empire’s reign and ensuing war against the Rebellion.  You’ve got the best villain in movie history, Darth Vader, who, let’s be honest, carries the franchise.  You’ve got the most beloved characters – Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie et all.

The prequels were fun at the time they were released but they don’t hold up over time (though “Revenge of the Sith” is solid.)  Sith holds up because we see Yoda being a badass, we see Anakin’s final transformation into Vader.  Vader always makes these movies watchable.

Alas, when we lose Vader and the original characters and/or time period, the franchise starts to poop the bed.  Keep in mind “Rogue One” had all new characters and a brief Vader cameo.  The new characters carry it because we understand the stakes – the Empire doesn’t mess around and to be caught means certain death for the rebels.

I think Disney sort of understood that the Empire vs. Rebellion dynamic sells the franchise.  So, they attempted to resurrect it with this odd idea that is never really explained, namely that the Republic has been restored but remnants of the Empire and Rebellion are still fighting each other in the form of the “First Order” and “The Resistance.”

Meh.  Lame.  One would think it would be the Republic vs. the First Order or what have you.  We learn little of Snoke, while Kylo Ren is sort of fun as an emo Vader wannabe quasi hipster rebel against mom and dad millennial Sith lord, there just isn’t enough story.  We’re thrown in and we aren’t told a lot about this world.

Further, there were attempts to capitalize on Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and the late Carrie Fisher being around long enough to appear in the films.  In retrospect, perhaps they would have been better used in sequels in the late 1990s, early 2000s where they were younger and more spry.  They weren’t in fighting shape this go-around, not knocking them, that’s just what time does to us.

But look what they did to Han and Leia.  These great heroes are relegated to an elderly, washed up bickering couple.  Maybe Leia isn’t because she’s a general but Han apparently never gets behind traveling the galaxy with his furry BFF Chewie.  Didn’t we, as fans, want more for these beloved characters?

As fans, didn’t we envision Luke traveling the galaxy, getting into adventures in his middle and old age?  Did we really want him to just run off to an island, become a hermit and a whiner?

Let me break it down.  “Solo” proved (well, to me but apparently not to the public) that younger actors could play Solo, Lando and thus younger actors could have played Leia, Luke, etc.

They did it with “Star Trek.”  Sure, we balked.  But then we remembered that Chris Pine isn’t an insult to Shatner but an homage.  The new doesn’t replace the old.  It’s just a way we can bring our old faves back again.

All the original characters were fairly young at the end of “Return of the Jedi” so there was a whole, big, beautiful timeline that could have been explored between Luke, Leia and Han’s youth and their old age.  You could have incorporated Hammill, Ford and Fisher into it, maybe as old timers remembering their youth.

There’s a whole slew of novels that the fans loved that cover the time after the fall of the Empire, showing our heroes going up against remnants of the Empire and even facing new villains.

So, I think there was a big well of possibility there that was left untapped.  And sadly, to stay true to the new dumb films, if it is ever tapped, you have to make Han and Leia a bitter divorced couple who never see each other.

Are “Awakens” and “Last” fun spectacles?  Maybe “Awakens” was ok for the nostalgia factor, but “Last Jedi” left me disappointed.

The whole thing has taught me that other than Empire vs. Rebellion, there really isn’t any idea for a future for the franchise.  I understand that Hammill, Ford and Fisher are iconic and not easy to replace.  Those are big shoes to fill.  But we felt that way about “Star Trek” and low and behold, that worked and with careful cast selection and good writing, it could have worked again here.

They’ve chosen to mine the Empire days with side stories but I really think the main saga could have continued with young actors playing the originals.

Oh well.  At some point, the saga will have to enter a new time period with a whole new setting, a whole new power structure, new villains, new heroes, and, God help us, they’re going to have to come up with a new threat other than the Death Star.

Until a solid writing team nails that, they should stick with Empire vs. Rebellion and perhaps look into seeing if the Han/Leia divorce can be written off as a bad dream.  Perhaps Episodes 7-9 can all be written off as a bad fever dream had by Chewie when he got a hold of some tainted chili cheese fries and farted himself into a coma.

Then when he wakes up, he’s with a younger cast.  It picks up after “Return of the Jedi” and a young Luke, Han and Leia travel the galaxy tracking down the Empire remnants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Movie Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

He did it all for the wookie…the wookie…so you can take that cookie…and stick it up your…

Sorry.  BQB here with a review of “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

I don’t know why I expected this movie to suck bantha dookie.  Probably because “The Last Jedi” sucked so much of it, that I lost faith in the Force completely.  This film renewed it though.  My official opinion is that it doesn’t suck at all.  In fact, it’s quite good.

Should I spoil the plot?  Probably not.  Suffice to say, it’s an origin story, and somehow director Ron Howard, without even casting Tom Hanks as he does in many of his other movies, gives us something that feels original and yet, it satisfies all of us long suffering nerds who know “Star Wars” inside out and have a checklist of things we want to see in a Han Solo biopic.

How did Han (Alden Ehrenreich) get that infamous blaster?  How did he become a great pilot?  How did win a card game against Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) to get his mitts on the Millenium Falcon?  How did he complete the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs? And, most importantly, how did he meet his big, furry, BFF, the one and only Chewbacca?

All these questions and more are answered and they’re answered thoughtfully – like, not just a nod to all of us old geeks who want to see the pop culture of our youth remain intact in today’s films.  But it’s not done in such a stodgy manner that (I assume) the youngsters who may not get all the references won’t still enjoy it.

Ehrenreich plays Han well as an anti-hero who is in it for himself, yet when given the chance to do good over bad, picks the former.  As Han always has, he makes it up as he goes along, often infuriating his colleagues with his imperfection and fly by the seat of his pants style, even though few ever realize that when the chips are down, sometimes you just have to punch it and hope for the best.

Donald Glover is the living, breathing reincarnation of a young Billy Dee Williams, part homage and part parody of everyone’s favorite self-absorbed, duplicitous space gambler.  From his closet filled with way too many capes to his attempts to narrate his own biography into a hologram recorder, Glover manages to make us laugh, though there are some scenes where we see his softer side and he makes us cry.  It’s almost enough to make us wonder when will Disney make a Lando standalone?

Emilia Clarke thrills as Han’s love interest, Qi’ra.  I’d been worried about her.  While she’s always a delight as the Khaleesi on “Game of Thrones,” her movie career got off to a bad start with the godawful “Terminator: Genisys.”  I never thought the problem in that movie was her so much as a) the script sucked and b) she was miscast, recruited to play the ultra butch lady soldier Sarah Connor even though she’s the very definition of femininity.

Here, she excels as the stuck up priss, the hot babe Han is happy to be bossed around by, hoping that one day by doing so, he’ll get to complete her Kessel run in 12 parsecs.  Thankfully, she does so well that the Terminator film has been terminated from my memory.

Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton and Jon Favreau’s voice round out the cast as a troop of ne’er-do-wells who give Han his introduction to the criminal underworld of space, with Woody’s Beckett serving as Han’s impromptu father figure.

For awhile, I did wonder if Paul Bettany, known to us as Jarvis and later, the Vision in “The Avengers” was miscast.  Could the proper Brit play a sinister mob boss?  Turns out, he can and he does.

Overall, it’s great, and I do think its success proves one thing – the best films in this franchise are set during the Vader/Palpatine Empire years.  Perhaps one day, some great writing team will come up with a fantastic premise for a future for “Star Wars,” but they haven’t done it yet, and should probably keep the tales set during the Empire’s reign until they do.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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