28/05/2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story

I'll start by saying that this film was not off to a good start with me for several reasons:

- Han Solo was probably my least favourite character from the main cast of the original trilogy. That's not to say that I disliked him, but he was just kind of... there. I didn't think that he was particularly awesome, nor was I dying to find out more about him. (Though I do remember reading the original Han Solo trilogy way back in the day... however the only thing I remember twenty years later is that it featured a pair of droids that were basically blatant knock-offs of C-3PO and R2-D2.)

- When I saw the first promotional images for the film my initial reaction could have been summed up as: "Could they have found anyone who looked any less like Harrison Ford?" I just couldn't see Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo at all.

- The trailer didn't excite me very much either. It basically looked like the story could be summarised as follows: Han Solo and a bunch of quirky characters pull off a big heist. Woo.

- After my disappointment with The Last Jedi I didn't really feel ready to get excited about another Star Wars film just yet. I couldn't help wondering whether Disney had "lost its way" with Star Wars a bit / whether I wasn't the target audience for these films anymore (pick whichever viewpoint you prefer).

Sooo... I basically just went to see it because I play a damn Star Wars game every day and blog about it on top of that, so how could I not want to know everything about the newest Star Wars film to hit the big screen?

Well, much to my own surprise, I ended up really liking it! To counter all the points I raised above one by one:

- This may sound weird to you if you're a big Han Solo fan, but I actually felt that the film would have probably been a good flick even if it hadn't been about Han Solo. Sure, there are things that tie it into the existing canon, like Chewbacca, Lando, the Millennium Falcon etc., and I'm sure there are lots of references there that the more hardcore fans will love, but the story didn't rely on you caring about these characters already. You could probably go into this film with zero knowledge of Star Wars whatsoever and still have a good time.

The above is something that I could also see people viewing as a negative, mind you... because it means that Solo is "just" a fun sci-fi/action flick. Nothing too epic or galaxy-changing happens in it, which I guess could potentially leave some viewers disappointed. For me though (as I mentioned when I wrote about Rogue One) that's right up my alley.

- I still think that Alden Ehrenreich looks remarkably little like young Harrison Ford, but boy does he know how to act! In still images I still struggle to accept him as Han Solo, but watching him on screen I was 100% solod on it the entire time.

- The story is actually more involved than the trailers made it look and I was continually surprised by how the context in which scenes appeared was different from what I would have expected based on the trailer.

- Solo shared none of the issues that I had with TLJ, which could mostly be summed up as weird plot twists and occasional tone deafness. Solo has a coherent plot throughout, is properly paced, and I thought the humour was completely spot on. I was fully immersed throughout the whole thing and didn't pause to go "Wait, what?" even once (unlike during TLJ).

So, if you're still unsure whether to see it and care at all about the opinion of people like me, it gets a thumbs-up from me! Some random spoiler comments underneath the picture.


Solo teaser poster taken from Wookieepedia.

- I liked that there was a bit of introductory text at the beginning. I didn't miss the opening crawl too much when I first saw Rogue One, but in retrospective I think it would have made the beginning of the film a lot less confusing. Ironically, Solo probably didn't need it that much, but I still considered it a nice touch.

- Those "hounds" that chase them early on totally reminded me of the ones in SWTOR flashpoints like Cademimu and Mandalorian Raiders - I kept thinking: yeah, you better run, those things hurt! Hah.

- It may be corny, but I found the idea of Han's last name basically being made up on the spot by some random Imperial bureaucrat incredibly amusing.

- I liked the scene of Han and Chewie meeting for the first time. I felt that was something that could have easily been done very badly but I actually really liked the way it was handled.

All in all, while this film probably came out a bit too soon after Last Jedi, to me it's actually felt pleasantly invigorating after how disappointed I felt by TLJ in December. Your mileage may vary.

7 comments :

  1. It’s a miracle it ended up being as good as it was with all the director-switching that was going on. Ron Howard took a jumbled half-finished puzzle with pieces missing and ended up with a product you could barely tell had had many differences before he took the helm.

    To me, this film continues to highlight the main reason why I dislike VII and VIII; those two films hand-waved the political state of the galaxy and it failed because thirty years of peace essentially amounted to everyone being back where they were, but worse off, and there’s very little to show how this became the case.

    Solo and Rogue One also handwave the political state, but it works in both films since we’ve had plenty of pre-established material across the years beforehand to fill in the majority of the appropriate gaps. We know the Empire is at the height of its power in Rogue One (without a shred of difficulty) and in Solo, while it’s slightly more of a fledgling given that we see it actively conquering Mimban, it’s still the ‘main’ body of power in the galaxy.

    If anything, the thing that I felt was lacking in some way was the galaxy-building. While Rogue One went overboard with this, at least we knew from the film what each planet was called. Conversely, in Solo, Mimban and Vandor-1 are both unidentified in the film itself in spite of the fact that fairly significant scenes take place there.

    Not quite as bad as TFA destroying Hosnian Prime without clarifying that it wasn’t exactly Chandrila or Coruscant, though...

    It was, however, great to see Kessel, the Maw, and especially Corellia realised in-film at long last.

    I’m looking forward to seeing more from Alden in the future and hoping they bring Howard - as well as soundtrack composer John Powell - back for future Star Wars projects as well.

    Also Phoebe Walker-Bridge as L3 was fantastic. :D

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    1. Ah Cal, the things you get hung up on are - as usual - weird to me. I don't care about the names of planets being called out; I care about places and situations feeling "real" and like they don't just exist for that one scene, and that's something the film delivered in spades (IMO). The beginning on Corellia alone could inspire so many more stories...

      Agreed on the soundtrack being quite striking by the way!

      As far as L3 is concerned, I was amused to find out after the viewing that she's apparently a controversial character... because a character opposing literal slavery is controversial these days. o_O That said, I could see not everyone liking her because she's meant to be abrasive. For me though, her "Can I get you anything" exchange with Lando was a major laugh out loud moment.

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    2. I just like to know where events are taking place, is all. As it happened, I knew Mimban was going to be a location long before seeing the film so this isn’t a significant issue since only one of the six locations was thus a complete unknown to me at the time - it’s just the only thing at the moment I can find to think “that could have been slightly improved upon”.

      Yeah, I can see why people find L3 controversial. Not long before the film came out I saw a reviewer refer to her as ‘the feminist Droid’ (not in a negative way, though, from what I remember), so I think a lot of people see her desperateness for droid rights as the film using her to ‘push an agenda’ in the real world. It’s... unfortunate that this perception exists, to say the absolute least, but it sadly continues to persist for strong female characters.

      I for one am more than happy to see that we’ve finally got a feminine-programmed Droid in the live-action films who isn’t merely an Astromech. Been a long time coming and I hope we get many more in the future.

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    3. Oh, forgot about TC-14. Still a very very minor character, though, so L3’s still a drastic improvement.

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  2. Actually, the thought just occurred to me that maybe some people are crapping on Solo because they didn't like TLJ and wanted to take their grumpiness out on the next Star Wars film too.

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    1. Oh, I'm sure there's some of that involved. (YouTube keeps trying to recommend me various conspiracy theory videos about how Kathleen Kennedy is the devil and therefore all the new Star Wars content is evil.) It still strikes me as weird though, considering that Solo is the complete opposite of TLJ in many ways.

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  3. As expected, the film has been met with huge criticism, which in my opinion is wholly unjust and just another opportunity for so called 'star wars' fans to voice their disapproval for Disney. Solo is not the biggest and boldest SW feature by any stretch, but it is true to the original trilogy material without resorting to overly complicated plots, ropey CGI effects and forced comedy. It provides action , excitement, great dialogue, romance and a vast array of alien creatures (that were lacking in Rogue 1) and genuinely feels like a SW film, albeit with an interesting western inspired spin. Its Star Wars with everything we love about the saga. If you hate it.. perhaps its time you realised you might not be a SW fan after all.

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