A Non-Intern Take on Solo

I liked it, quite a bit in places, and (snarking aside) I can also see why it did (relatively) underwhelming business in its first weekend: it’s light in the way Star Wars films haven’t been before. Star Wars films have had humor, and have had snark, and have had quips and banter (usually through the graces of Lawrence Kasdan, who also offers them here in conjunction with his son Jonathan), and even have merchandise-ready cuddly creatures. But the core of Star Wars films is always something serious — the rise and fall of families and empires and personal morality.

It sets a tone, and that tone’s consistent through Star Wars films, until this one. This one flips the script: It’s got skullduggery and betrayal and death and personal sacrifice, but the core is weightless, and so everything ultimately feels consequenceless. This is a Boy’s Own Action Film, and there’s nothing wrong with that, except that’s all it is in the end, and — surprisingly! — I think many of us implicitly or explicitly expect more, or at least, different, from the Star Wars universe.

Does this mean the film is a failure, or a disappointment? Taken on its own terms, and considered as its own film independent of the Star Wars context, I don’t think so. This film is aggressively competent; it hits its marks. The action is sufficiently actiony, the acting is actual acting, the pacing is perfectly pace-y, and there’s no one place where the film falls down for me. It’s very fine summer entertainment and on that score I don’t think anyone involved should feel like they’ve done anything wrong. This is a film director Ron Howard, one of the most consummate directors working, could have done with his eyes closed, even if he hadn’t parachuted in at the eleventh hour to take over from the film’s previous directors. I can’t imagine that Howard, whose first film as a director was the Roger Corman-produced quickie Grand Theft Auto, didn’t enjoy directing those speeder chase scenes. It was like going home for him.

(While I’m at it, “taken on its own terms” is one reason why my intern’s review here was positive — as she notes in her review, she’s not nearly as steeped into the Star Wars universe as many other people, including me. She’s not carrying around the baggage of expectation. It makes a difference.)

All of this raises the question of whether Star Wars films should have the burden of their franchise’s particular thematic gravity. Why can’t you have a light, zippy, largely consequence-free story like Solo in this universe? Well, maybe you can: Solo will likely clear $200 million globally before Friday, and Solo has the reasonable good fortune of not having any film opening this weekend being a potential blockbuster, so it’s a decent bet it’ll stay at number one. The weekend after that the big film (Ocean’s 8) skews into a largely different demographic. So that’s two weekends for Solo to make up a bit of ground before The Incredibles 2 comes to snag its audience. If its box office grosses don’t drop too steeply this next weekend, or the weekend after, it might actually end up doing just fine overall, if (realistically) still well below other films in its franchise. If Solo earns out in theatrical, then the possibility for more Star Wars films like it isn’t entirely off the table, with some appropriate tweaking in the story and script stages.

Even if Solo does eventually — and again relatively — faceplant at below $250 million domestically and below $500 million globally, remember that Disney will still make money on the film when ancillary, merchandising and licensing is all hauled in. In other words, don’t cry for Disney, or LucasFilm, or for anyone else involved in the film. They’re all just fine. Solo will be to Star Wars what Cars is to Pixar: Valuable not for the theatrical box office, but everything else.

That said, I do think Solo flying in a bit lower than other Star Wars films should appropriately give LucasFilm a tiny bit of a pause for introspection. Were I giving Kathleen Kennedy advice, I would tell her three things: One, space your Star Wars films twelve months apart (December has been really good to the Star Wars franchise recently; don’t mess with that); Two, pay attention to overall tone so that the all the Star Wars films are consistent even when you’re trying for a little bit lighter; Three, the rest of Disney’s release schedule is not your friend. Avengers: Infinity War sucked up more than a little PR/marketing oxygen from Solo ahead of its release; The Incredibles 2 is sucking up that oxygen post-release (this is another reason to stay in December). Disney is now big enough to cannibalize itself, and I think that’s relevant to Solo, and the Star Wars franchise in general.

(Also I would tell her not to listen to the whiny manbabies posing as Star Wars fans on the Internet, stomping their feet about everything they stomp their feet about. But I expect if I did so Ms. Kennedy would look at me crossly for assuming she actually would listen to them; she’s smarter than that.)

In short: Solo: Perfectly good! I liked it! Only sort of what I come to Star Wars films for! Which is fine, and also possibly a teachable moment for the people making the films. I’ll be interested in how the next “Star Wars Story” film goes.

(Update, 6/2/18: Looks like Solo is dropping something like 66% in its second weekend, for an estimated weekend take of $28 million. Which is… not good. We’re looking at the faceplant scenario at this point.)

56 Comments on “A Non-Intern Take on Solo”

  1. Note (especially for people coming from elsewhere): If you’re planning to whine here about how Solo’s box office was revenge for The Last Jedi (the #1 film domestically and globally last year), please do me a favor and don’t; I don’t have time for such fabulations. Likewise any screeding that has to do with Those Horrible Female Characters Being Shoved Down Men’s Throats. Be annoyingly sexist elsewhere, please.

    Also generally speaking remember that wrapping yourself in the mantle of The True Star Wars Fan isn’t particularly impressive; you have no more claim to Star Wars than anyone else (and also Disney isn’t impressed by your claims of ownership).

    Basically: Please behave like rational humans in this comment thread. Thanks.

  2. I think my favorite thing about it is the dialog felt real. The jokes weren’t forced. The lines weren’t awkward. I never once thought “who talks like that?” (which has happened at some point with every other Star Wars film). I also like that the the Director/DP combination managed some shots that framed Alden Ehrenreich in a way that suggested young Harrison Ford. Amazing what a little light and shadow can do.

  3. Glad to see another person of my generation enjoying this film. As I noted in your intern’s review, so many of us who grew up with the franchise seem not to have perspective on the films. Your closing for this post was spot on — I think having “Solo” open only a few weeks after “Infinity War” was rather boneheaded, especially as Disney had to know that the ending of “infinity War” would suck up much of the pop culture oxygen that otherwise might have been focussed on “Solo” (doubling the error was that Disney knew that in “Solo” they had a film that had a bunch of online idiots predisposed not to like it, and a film that had the dreaded “troubled production” funk hanging over it).

  4. For what it’s worth – I’ve been pretty heavily deep diving into the Star Wars back catalog (admittedly less the new universe and more the old universe – all for a project), and I really dug the hell out of Solo.

  5. I enjoyed the film precisely because it was more lighthearted than you expect Star Wars to be. Whatever opinion one may have on TFA and TLJ, the tone has gotten darker. There’s nothing wrong with that per se, but Solo was comparatively fresh and breezy; I needed that right now.

  6. I took my 8 year old daughter, who only recently saw Rogue One and Episodes 4-6 over the years. She loved it. She loved the action. She loved the ass-kicking girls. She wished it was longer. I agreed with her and took it for what it is, a fun summer action flick that loosely confirms or builds on the SW universe as we love it.

  7. John, this really is an honest question, is there really a connection between the quality of a film and its opening weekend grosses? I would think that it has more to do with marketing. I’m not suddenly deciding to go see Star Wars on Saturday because someone on Friday said it was good, you know? Maybe it’s just me. I watch a lot of movies in the theatre (33 over the last 12 months), but it’s almost always a planned event (tickets purchased in advance when available, etc.). Of course, I’m just one data point…

  8. I’m pretty much entirely steeped in SW lore, from the original trilogy, the comics and the EU and I’m enjoying the films so far.

    I approached Solo as a stand alone film, along the lines of one of the back-up stories in the comics, and I loved it, possibly more than some of the others so far. It was a great example of a sci-fi flavoured heist movie, flavoured by some SW fan-service.

    As for the TLJ backlash, was it the film I expected? No. Was it the film I would have made? No. Did I love it? Yes.

  9. Cosmicdog:

    Most films these days make much of their money in the first couple of weeks, so, yes, early buzz on a film matters.

  10. I also saw one take online that while the main saga of Star Wars is a family epic about the Skywalker bloodline, Solo (and probably Rogue One now that I think about it) is about family-of-choice. Which I appreciate — I think one thing that worked in the MCU and could work in Star Wars is keeping the setting feel, but letting the side stuff be a bit freer with the types of stories it tells. It was actually a thing I liked about the old Extended Universe — that it could spin out side-story branches about fighter pilots or ‘scum and villainy’ as well as the epic Jedi fate-of-the-galaxy stuff.

    (I also saw the movie with a giant Star Wars nerd a bit older than me (thus, of age that the Original Trilogy was part of his childhood[1]) and he was quite happy with all the little call-outs to setting lore.)

    [1] I was born after the release, and my parents were far more into Star Trek than Star Wars so we didn’t have the movies on tape when I was little.

  11. I watched it as a quippy, pseudo-noir film with spaceships and Wookies. And in that sense, I think it worked pretty well. I agree that carrying the ties to the rest of the Star Wars universe didn’t do it any favors. But there were far worse ways I could have spent a couple of hours last Sunday.

  12. Honestly, this was a Robin Hood story. And we’ve seen those so many times before that merely setting it in space, and in a known universe, didn’t alter the basic structure enough for it not to feel predictable.

    That said, I loved L3, and Donald Glover is now officially a sexy action hero. He was the actual Han Solo character in this story.

  13. I saw it. As a diehard Star Wars fan I was nervous as hell going in. How could this kid be Han Solo? But he was. There’s one brief moment when he’s shown in profile, almost a silhouette, and he’s the spitting image of Harrison Ford. The movie has charm and great pacing and I’ll see it again this weekend with my husband who had to work last Friday.

  14. I concur that the timing was really, really bad for this movie. Three heavy geek movies all out at once? Oy.
    Otherwise it was fine. My only disappointment is that I don’t think I laughed once, maybe chuckled a bit. No memorable lines of funny in it, which is sad given who you’re dealing with. But otherwise it was good. The acting was great. Was kind of bummed at so many cool characters biting it fast though.

  15. I liked Solo a lot. Its 3rd in my book behind Empire Strikes back at #1, New Hope #2. Followed by Rogue 1 at #4. In some ways, I find Solo the antithesis of Rogue 1. Solo has all the humor and camaraderie that Rogue 1 lacked while Rogue 1 has the gravitas. Combine them and you get the “normal” Star Wars movie Scalzi talks about.

  16. Yeah, I thought the box office was largely about the fact that it was up against not one, but two juggernaut movies, both basically still in their prime. Those two took in 62 million between them last weekend. There’s only so much money to go around on a given movie going weekend.

  17. I liked it. Coming after Rogue One and The Last Jedi, it’s definitely a “lighter” film, but what’s wrong with that? No rekindling of the Rebellion, or great sacrifice, just an enjoyable caper movie with a few twists and turns.

  18. I thought it was a great movie. Several items, in no particular order:

    1. I totally agree that they need to keep to a once a year in December release schedule. Otherwise, they will cannibalize themselves or face too much stiff competition from other Disney, Marvel, Pixar releases, among others. (it is a totally separate conversation as to whether Disney and their brands have become so saturated in the marketplace that they are their own primary competition…)
    2. I think the different tone and separate throughline of the film is consistent with what the intent of the Star Wars Story films are intended to be. I think Lucasfilm has not done the best job of defining the and setting expectations for these films and how they expand the universe without directly moving the inertia of the main series forward.
    3. I think Marvel has excelled at telling different types of stories within a shared universe. Films have had different tones and wildly different influences (compare Ant-Man (heist) to GOTG (crazy sci-fi and comedy) to Spider-Man: Homecoming (John Hughes in tights) to Captain America: The Winter Soldier (espionage thriller), for instance). How does Marvel do it and succeed so well? Can that be duplicated in Star Wars or are Star Wars’ core elements (and fanbase) so different from Marvel’s as to make that unrealistic?

  19. I left the movie with no interest in seeing another Han Solo movie. So utter fail there. However, a Lando, Qui-Ra or Enfys Nest movie OTOH…

  20. I guess I’m just lucky in that I always go into the theater with horribly low expectations of Star Wars films, so I love every one of them.

    I also love driving the fanboy Star Wars whiners crazy by telling them I love Star Trek (both old and new!) just as much as I love Star Wars.


  21. If I recall correctly, Rogue One was supposed to be a summer release as well, but they pushed it back to December for production reasons. And that worked great!

    I guess Disney/Lucasfilm isn’t yet in the mindset that the public clearly is, that December is Star Wars time now. It makes so much sense for so many reasons (*cough* merch).

  22. I look forward to seeing it. Seems perfectly appropriate to me for a film about Solo to be lighter – it fits with his character, who historically only goes deep when he’s forced to. For me, the hardest part will be seeing someone new playing him, but that’s life.

  23. Disney paid an enormous amount for the cow which is Star Wars. Having done so they are anxious to milk that sucker and recoup their investment asap. TFA felt rushed-into-production. Rogue One was quality – they took their time and it showed. I likes TLJ and look forward to Solo. Not expecting perfection, just another Star Wars movie.

  24. It’s interesting, I didn’t really see it as light and breezy. There were a few things, mainly with Donald stealing scenes as Lando, but it was in line with the usual Star Wars humor. It was not the Dirty Dozen of Rogue One, but then it wasn’t supposed to be because Han Solo we know does not sacrifice himself. But he does, in Solo, keep sacrificing parts of himself. The film is about loss, not adventure. Han is trapped in a horrible universe and again and again tries to free himself — and also the people he’s with. And then has to give up on that, more than once. But at the core, he doesn’t stop caring and trying, even though he heads off for ten years of grubby smuggling before he runs into Luke.

    And that central purpose was interesting for me. In Star Wars, Han is a cynical and sometimes ruthless smuggler who macks on a princess and then suddenly, rather inexplicably, joins the Rebellion and becomes one of its most valuable leaders. And then in Force Awakens, after another very great loss, Han has run away from that duty, from his wife, to dig into his past. It’s not illogical behavior but it’s always been a bit oblique. Solo lays the background for all of that, and makes Han Solo’s character make sense. It also puts him in a bigger role in the Rebellion that again makes his decision in New Hope a logical end-point of a bigger story. Like Rogue One, it put another piece of the puzzle into place.

    It also offered a more thorough picture of the early makings of the Empire, since it’s about ten years or so before. I think that’s kind of nice to have in the movies and not just tie-in books.

  25. I went in with low expectations and enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Some of my favorite lines, as best as I remember:

    “I hate you.” “I know.”

    “How did you get out?” “I didn’t get out.”

    And I loves the relationship between the robot and Lando, absolutely loved it. And Lando’s cape collection.

    But as a whole, I never escaped the feeling that the movie was simply unnecessary. How much backstory do we really need? Was there ever any doubt that Han and Chewie (and Lando, and the Falcon, and those golden dice…) would be okay? Not in the slightest!

    Please, Disney, don’t take all the mystery out of every potential Star Wars backstory. Gives us legitimately *new* stories.

  26. In different ways, ever since a Disney took over each of the successive Star Wars films have departed from the overall feel of the Lucas 6. I agree with all your points, John.

  27. Hi! I’m not John, but I have a thought.

    I think sometimes it all comes down to timing, I think if this movie had been released in December, it would have been the hottest s#$t. It would’ve cleaned up. I think like John said, the big tent pole movies coming out ahead of, and after this one sucked all the air of peoples excitement. It’ll do well, but not as well as it would have somewhen else.

  28. P.S. I can’t wait for a story with sympathetic Empire characters – aside from Finn, I know, who ran away as fast as he could. But what a missed opportunity, I thought, for Han to interact with *normal* Imperials at the Academy – remember, the same type of Imperial Academy good guy Luke Skywalker wanted to join in the first movie? I mean, the recruiting officer seemed like an OK guy. Anyways…

  29. I had the opposite reaction. I expected a movie starring Han Solo based almost entirely on a single Star Wars quip (making the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs) to be light and snarky, but Solo was actually quite dark — human trafficking, slavery, exploitation, criminal oligarchies, energy politics, identity politics, class warfare, actual warfare (meaningless warfare), personal betrayal, ultimate sacrifice. Chewy’s story is actually a sad one.

    Like the best science fiction, all of this is as much about today as anything else, which would explain why these themes are so dark, but it’s surprisingly dark for a movie about Han Solo. The look was dark too, all blue and muted, set in endless icy rocky mountain ranges, endless expanses of barren sand, a huge strip mine, an abandoned power station, even (supposedly) a real WWI trench. Was there a single ray of sunshine to be seen?

    As for the box office, I think you’re right about the impact of other films released around it, or maybe it was a hangover from the controversies during filming, but I cannot remember a Star Wars movie (even the not so good ones) having so little buzz, all the more surprising because you’d think just the fact that it was Han Solo’s back story (and Chewy’s) would be enough to generate buzz by itself.

  30. I really enjoyed it. One of the things I rarely hear people talk about is that Chewie got some story, other than the loyal sidekick.

    And I do hope there are more movies with this Han and this Lando interacting.

  31. I liked Solo well enough, and more than I expected, with a straightforward and coherent plot. Some daft elements, like the octopus, I could have done without.

    Some of the reviews have said the Solo-Qi’ra romance did not sparkle, but I rather liked it as it was different… usually they are boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-wins-girl. But here boy and girl had already won each other before the film even started, as a long-established regular couple with plans. OK, there was the element of boy loses girl, but later on, and not to be too spoilery, girl seems to have developed her own career ideas.

    Mind you, as often the various characters’ plans of action are developed off-screen and we are never sure if what we see then playing out is fully planned, a plan gone wrong halfway through, a scam, a real or faked betrayal or something else, we cannot be sure of the meaning of the “ending”, presumably to be tied up (or extended) in a/many sequel/s.

  32. I liked the movie but didn’t find it as thought-provoking or emotionally satisfying as the other SW films. Probably because it feels like these “Star Wars Story” movies are filling in gaps left behind by the fact that George Lucas is a bad writer. (Someone else said that first. I’m quoting but can’t remember who said it.) We have to explain away the Kessel run in 12 Parsecs. We have to explain how “transmissions were intercepted”, or why the Falcon’s dialect is odd to Threepio. I’m sure they’ll get around to explaining why Luke had a grappling hook on his belt at some point.

  33. Solo would be in much better financial shape had it not been for the drama with the original directors, and the resulting need to nearly make the film twice with the inevitable explosion of the budget that came with that. Standalones with this level of success should be sustainable for the franchise if they get the process of making them down and keep the spending in check.

  34. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and was entirely puzzled at both the critics’ MEH reaction and the pearl clutching about its lackluster (?) opening weekend.

    I truly wish someone like yourself could explain this to me. It was a wonderful romp that felt like Star Wars. I enjoyed The Last Jedi, but it has some pretty substantial problems.

    I do not understand the difference in the box office.

    But then I expected John Carter of Mars to be a hit, so what do I know.

    Any light you can shed on this from your vantage point in SFF would be appreciated.

    I saw SW: A New Hope in the theater at 17 and never looked back. I was already a SFF fan but it was a marvelous thing, and I have so enjoyed sharing the SW fandom with my kids, who are superfans and who are not jettisoning the old canon but embracing all of it, and who are really looking forward to the Boba Fett movie. I’m all in. This was not a bad movie. What the @#$%? Help?

  35. I enjoyed it but it didn’t move the franchise along. The only thing that was knew was Han had a serious girlfriend before Princess.

  36. “the core is weightless, and so everything ultimately feels consequenceless.”

    How could it NOT be?

    I haven’t seen it yet, but we know its a prequel. We know Han, Chewie, and Lando all live. We know that the Emperor and Vader will get rid of the Senate and build a Death Star. We know Luke will blow it up. That Vader is Luke’s father. That Vader gives the emperor the shaft. That Vader dies from static electricity. We know that everything of consequence that we already know about is already set in stone, cannot be changed, and therefore many of the biggest consequences have been removed as options.

    I plan on seeing it in theaters, but I’m going in with an expectation completely recalibrated because, whatever plot tension the movie focuses on, it can’t change any of the big picture items in the Star Wars universe. Ep4 watches Luke save the rebellion. Ep 6 watches the team save the galaxy. The “Solo” prequel cannot stop the coming of the Empire, cannot save us from that. So it must be something tactical, not strategic.

    Ep 4-6 is Captain America defeating Red Skull and averting global disaster. “Solo” has to be your friendly neighborhood spiderman, operating on a much smaller scale.

  37. December would be out of the question for Solo, as Mary Poppins Returns is coming out on Christmas.

    My concern with Solo is that the ending sets up future movies. There are potential Boba Fett and Obi Wan Kenobi movies in the future. If these three movies are connected, we could get another prequel trilogy.

  38. I’m not sure how to enter the fray of the last couple of movies. I’m gonna say, I didn’t like TLJ at all, not because of the manbaby complaints but just the fact that stuff from TFA was dropped so that Rian Johnson could do his thing. Mind you, if this was some other franchise, the movie can be seen as a good film. There are a couple of scenes that still stick in my mind, one of which goes BSG silent. But as a Star Wars Film, it ranks below The Phantom Menace in my mind. Seriously, you’re gonna release a bunch of domesticated animals into the wild and screw the slaves? Priorities.

    As regards Solo, I’ve not had the chance to see it yet (hope to correct that this weekend) but just based on the trailers it looks like a good thrill ride, and if it was a stand alone, or the opening act for a new series, I bet this would be one of the most talked about movies around. But… manbabies.

    Sheesh, I wish some of them lived where I live. My county only has a couple of hundred thousand people, but they couldn’t handle it. A foreign language here, spoken by NOT AMERICANS is something you get on any trip to Wally World or the laundromat, or even work. Where I work, you’ll here English, Spanish, German, and Japanese on a regular basis, and that’s just a few hundred people. The more the merrier when it comes to my real life and my Star Wars life. The people I know aren’t the Straight White ME! And I don’t want to see that in anything I watch. Oh, I hate depressing movies but one of the things Star Wars (and Star Trek) does well is HOPE! We can do better, we can BE better.

    And for the man babies? If you think the last few movies are SJW BS… you’ve never actually watched Star Wars have you? Or Star Trek. It’s not always about YOU! Yes, I didn’t like TLJ but you did? More power to you, and I’m glad the story did it’s thing. Solo? I’ve not seen it yet, avoiding spoilers like a naked person trying to tap dance my way through a room filled with scorpions and rattlesnakes.

  39. Am I the only one who noticed how much Solo felt like another Firefly movie? Really, if they’d cast Nathan Fillion in the title role it wouldn’t have felt out of place.

  40. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t happy with this film, but you’ve absolutely nailed it here. It’s almost as if you have a gift for putting things into words or something. That second paragraph just rang so true for me.

  41. Personally, I went into it prepped for what I got. Based on reviews, stuff Ron Howard had said, even stuff Harrison Ford said about it, I expected a fairly lightweight heist movie and that’s pretty much exactly what I got.

    As I’ve been telling fiends when we talked about this movie: Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.

  42. Rey is one of the most blatant Mary Sue characters I’ve seen in a movie in quite a long time.

    In ep4, several characters point out chekovs gun, that luke is already a pretty good pilot. Add some force-guided assistance from obiwan at the end, and hitting a thermal vent is chekovs gun being fired.

    Rey? She spends a day collecting scrap for a couple of corn bread muffins. That establishes that she has to collect scrap as a full time job just to survive/eat. Then she jumps in the milleniun falcon and shoots down two tie fighters? Chekovs gun is fired with no setup showing it on the wall. And when does she even have time to learn to fly when the intro shows she is only about a days work away from not having any food?

    Same with the lightsaber. Luke struggles with the marksman-h combat traing remote. And never uses it in combat in ep 4. In ep 5, luke spends possibly six months training with yoda, and then fights vader, and loses badly.

    Rey picks up a lightsaber for what is apparently the first time and defeats kylo ren, leader of the knights of ren, in ep7. In ep8, luke refuses to train rey most of the setup, and when he finally agrees, she quickly runs off, defeats half a dozen praetorian guards, and comes to a draw with kylo ren.

    Seriously? Ep4 and 5 have flaws, but at least they make an effort to show lukes skills over the fireplace as showing chekovs gun before it goes off. Rey they show in a situation where she is homeless, living in an abandoned car, living day to day barely getting enough food to survive. And oh, by the way, shes a better pilot than academy graduates and shes a better light saber wielder than 6 pratorian guards. Wtf?

    And this has nothing to do with Rey being a woman.

    “Rogue One” is one of my favorite staw wars movies. Its not perfect, but it was like the “Magnificent Seven” in space. A great, classic movie. Bad guys who end up fighting and dying for a good cause. Great plot. And Jinn Erso doesnt exhibit never-seen-before skills that alter major turning points in the plot. Which is nice.

    I’m a little tired of all the complaints about Force Awakens and Last Jedi being reduced to nothing more than whiney manbabies who dont like girls as the hero.

    Rey might have the skills to justify the outcome, but if she does, the story telling failed miserably to setup those skills, show chekovs gun over the mantle, before she used those skills in major plot turns. My assumption was that maybe Rey had trained with Luke when kylo killed everyone, and luke saved her but also mind wiped that part of her memory. And that was going to be the “luke i am your father” big fact twust reveal in ep8. But nope. Luke never shows that he recognizes her. Kylo ren never says anything about how she looks like the little girl at the jedi camp he destroyed. Of all the flashbacks to jedi camp, we never see Rey.

    So, for two movies, Rey just pulls out skills like batmans utility belt.


  43. ” as Mary Poppins Returns is coming out on Christmas.”

    First I’d heard of this film. From the title I can only assume that it’s a Chris Nolan dark remake. Ideally with Sigourney Weaver in the title role.

    “I’m not the nanny you want. I’m the nanny you deserve.

  44. The thing I took away from Solo (aside from Donald Glover = Billie D Williams) was that I really want more Enfys Nest. How does that group go from hijacking smugglers to challenging the Empire?

  45. All things considered, I enjoyed Solo more than TLJ or Rogue One. I think it captured the Saturday matinee serial feel (especially the story and comedic beats) better than its predecessors, which is really all I expect from a Star Wars movie. Hopefully it’ll make bank, because I’d like to see another one.

  46. I don’t think a 12-month spacing is necessary for Star Wars movies. Marvel movies don’t always space themselves out so far from each other, and they do just fine. Infinity War came out only two months after Black Panther, and both movies have made bank.

    The problem I have with the new trilogy is what they’ve done to the legacy of the original trilogy. We meet Han as a cynical smuggler who’s only worried about himself, then gradually become an adult with responsibilities and friends. And then the only difference between Han in ANH compared to TFA is that he’s older; forget what he became in the movies between those points.

    It’s an even bigger problem when Luke gets the same treatment in TLJ. Here’s the guy who put his life at risk on the idea that Vader might have some good left in him, and in the next movie he acts pretty much the opposite way with his nephew and runs off to sulk instead of acting like the hero he had become.

    And even when the good guys win at the end of Episode IX and the Empire defeated, that victory will be just as meaningless as the victory in ROTJ, thanks to the new trilogy. The prequels were better movies than this new trilogy has proven to be, and I’m not unaware of everything wrong with the prequels.

    The problem isn’t audience fatigue. I liked Rogue One; I think it made ANH a better movie than it already was. the problem is audience loss of trust (at least for this audience member and my wife) in Lucasfilm’s understanding of its own story. Add to that an actor who, as far as I could tell, doesn’t look, sound, or act like Han Solo–which is kind of important for a movie about Han Solo. One or two moments that evoke a young Harrison Ford don’t make up for everything I saw in the trailers that failed to make me believe this new guy can fill those boots. Maybe I’ll see it someday, but I’m not in a hurry.

  47. Infinity War came out only two months after Black Panther, and both movies have made bank.

    True, though I kinda wish there had been a little more time, given what happens in Infinity War. The Mouse is a businessmouse, though…

  48. I’ll be interested to see it, but I thought a big part of the problem was the lack of purpose to doing a Solo origin story. To my mind, we’ve already seen the coolest part of Han’s life: the Original Trilogy. Spending two hours and a couple hundred million showing his backstory feels unnecessary. I’ll still see it, but I’m not going opening weekend, and I might just wait until I can rent it. A lot of my Star Wars inclined friends have expressed a similar sentiment. If we’re going to spend the money on a ticket, we’d rather see something new and fresh.

  49. Eric: “[Han] forget what he became in the movies between those points.”

    My memory is fuzzy, but I thought Han and Leia got divorced after their son killed everyone at Lukes school. I thought someone said something about how the other half reminded them of their failure with their son. So they left. Maybe I made that up.

    “put his life at risk on the idea that Vader might have some good left in him, and in the next movie he acts pretty much the opposite way with his nephew”

    When they showed Luke raising his light saber to kill a young, sleeping, and unarmed Ben Solo, I think my jaw went klunk when it hit the floor. What kind of expulsion policy does this school have anyway? Jeebus. Dude, what the hell? Luke would rather die than murder his sociopathic father with the emperor standing in front of him. But Ben has “dark” thoughts and Luke immediately draws his weapon? When did Luke join the Baltimore police department?

  50. Eric:

    “Marvel movies don’t always space themselves out so far from each other, and they do just fine.”

    Marvel movies aren’t Star Wars movies, and vice-versa.

  51. I think Ant-Man probably suffered from its proximity to Age of Ultron, and may have suffered further from AoU’s narrative and thematic failings, not to mention its villainous robot with moving lips.

  52. Saw it yesterday. It was pretty light Star Wars fare, which is just fine, and I enjoyed myself for a couple of hours. Most of the haters I talked to about it really wanted Rogue 2. And Rogue 1 was a fantastic Star Wars film primarily because it was more for the grownups than the kids. Solo wasn’t that.

  53. Eric: “[Han] forget what he became in the movies between those points.”

    My memory is fuzzy, but I thought Han and Leia got divorced after their son killed everyone at Lukes school. I thought someone said something about how the other half reminded them of their failure with their son. So they left. Maybe I made that up.

    That was all told, not shown. And we went into TFA without any reason to expect it. If Han and Luke were supposed to become such deadbeats by the time we saw them in this new trilogy, there should have been another movie or three between ROTJ and TFA to prepare us for such developments, instead of finding out that the characters we remembered from the original trilogy have become barely recognizable distortions of themselves.

    And John, while Star Wars and Marvel are different franchises, why does that matter in terms of release timing? Both have their series films and standalone films, and the standalone films especially shouldn’t need the same schedule considerations as the ones in a series.

    If a movie’s promotional efforts tell me it’s worth my time to see it, and enough of the right people whose opinions I trust say it’s worth seeing, I’ll see it, no matter how recently I’ve been to the theater to see something else. So yeah, they’re different sets of movies. But what is that supposed to really mean?

  54. I thought Solo was fine. It wasn’t amazing, but it was perfectly adequate and I didn’t feel like I wasted my time seeing it. Same for Alden Ehrenreich’s peformance. I bought him as a younger, less cynical Han Solo who is on the road to becoming that cynical. (He’s fortunate that Harrison Ford got into acting later in life and so there is no footage of a younger him to compare the two.) Donald Glover was really amazing as a younger Lando. Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany swanned around stealing scenes with abandon. I liked Emilia Clarke’s wardrobe in particular, and all the sets and costumes were definitely giving off a strong late 1970s vibe.
    Han has never been one of my favorite Star Wars characters, so I was indifferent to this movie going in. I didn’t really understand why they greenlit a backstory for him (though it’s slightly more understandable to me than a Boba Fett standalone). I do think this movie does give some character insight on Han’s later behavior, and I thought coming out that Han Solo fans would be pleased to see some of his early exploits. Yes, it feels smaller in scale than The Fate of the Galaxy that the other movies have, but for a one-character centered movie that’s OK. They did try to get some bigger stakes in there in a vague way that gave it some weight, but it’s largely a story of one character’s personal journey as he tries to define himself against the rough world in which he exists.

    Issues: this movie was so poorly lit. Half the action sequences you only follow by sound alone, and I am not overly fond of the 70s burnt orange color scheme of most of the rest of it.
    Hilariously, despite the number of named female characters who play prominent roles, short of rewatching it I am about 90% sure it doesn’t pass the Bechdel Test. The female characters are carefully segregated so there is only one per scene, and if there are two female characters they’re very, very rarely in the same shot. So it still *looks* like a movie where there is one girl on the adventure with a group of guys. The two instances I can think of where female characters speak to each other, they’re talking about the male characters. It’s actually almost cute, how hard they’re trying to say “see! lots of female characters!” while still keeping the tropey adventure-serial lineup where one character’s defining trait is The Girl. Anyone else notice this?

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