What’s up, CHU!
It’s DrunkWooky back from his most recent Kashyykian bender, to dish out some unabashed opinion!
Now, one or two (but likely no more) of you probably asked yourselves “where has that DrunkWooky chap been!?” Well, priorities got re-prioritized. You see, the WookyWife has a WittleWooky in her belly! So, we’re expecting a bouncing bundle of roars around Life Day this December!
Accordingly, my collecting game took a nose-dive and I am woefully out of step with the comics world in general, and barely keeping my head above water keeping up with Marvel’s Star Wars line. I hear the Marvel comics universe has rebooted twice? Sounds like a long time, but that’s only, what, like three months?
I couldn’t miss Solo, though! One or two of you also may have noticed that I abstained from opinion on The Last Jedi. It’s not that I didn’t have one. Everything positive or negative that could be said had already been said, by people with a much bigger platform than me, though. The world is such a mess right now that I decided not to wade into that internet opinion blood-bath.
So, I was somewhat retired. Hung up my typing fingers and rested on my rather large laurels. But Anthony texted me a few nights ago and said his neighbor of his, of all people had been “dying to see what DrunkWooky thought of Solo!”
Who can argue with that? Give the fans what they want.
Well, with the grand-standing, life updates, and administrative crap out of the way, on to the review! SPOILERS TO FOLLOW, the damn movie has been out for three and a half weeks for god’s sake. If you ain’t seen it by now, you’re renting it at Redbox.
As one final preemptive note, let me make my take on my own Star Wars fandom clear. I think people take this stuff too seriously. People boo-hooed after TLJ about Luke Skywalker’s newly revealed force projection ability, and Leia’s ability to live in the vacuum of space. Well, first of all, nobody heard about “Force Lightning” before Palpatine in ROTJ, and I bet every eighties teen said nothing except “Holy shit! Bad ass!” Second, why on earth are we setting arbitrary limits on an ostensibly all-powerful force? Where is the viewing public’s imagination? I think sometimes that people need to take a step back and realize they are in front of the screen for enjoyment and leave it at that. Now, am I blind to flaws? No. I’ll point them out when I see them. But, I’ll also enjoy a film for what it is-entertainment. Not a personal affront to my childhood. Feel free to complain in the comments.
With that out of the way, on to my Solo Review!
In a word, I loved Solo! Solo is an enjoyable romp which mixes equal parts heist, buddy movie, and sci-fi action film into an interesting gumbo that is a treat to re-watch
I started my review of Rogue One with a ranking. All Star Wars fans have a ranking and mine is two movies out of date. Therefore, I have to update it. Unfortunately, now comes the time I come clean about my opinion on The Last Jedi:
Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Episode I: The Phantom Menace
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Episode V: Empire Strikes Back
Episode IV: A New Hope
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Yeah, yeah, The Last Jedi’s sins aren’t as great as the prequels’ sins. Get over it, this is a Solo review!
Now, was Solo perfect? Without fault? No. But Solo was fun! This week, I wholeheartedly accepted that I liked Solo and displayed my fandom in the cockpit of my own Corellian freighter!
I am a fan of the Star Wars franchise in its entirety, and not an unbiased one. Nostalgia is deep in my opinions and I see value in the canon contributions of even some of the most regrettable entries. I am not, however, a Star Wars apologist. I will readily admit failings in the films where I cannot explain them away to a somewhat reasonable level of satisfaction.
The chief worry with Solo was the casting choice for the titular character. Many a Star Wars fanboy and fangirl bemoaned how irreplaceable Harrison Ford is and cringed to think how the highly criticized Hail Caesar actor would perform the role. Well, I hate to break it to everybody, but Harrison Ford is too old to play young Solo and nor does he want to anyway. The man wanted Solo to get killed off in Empire for god’s sake. His head has been out of the Star Wars game since 1985.
Alden Ehrenreich played an obviously younger, less experienced, less capable, and far more naive Han Solo. Is he Harrison Ford? No. Is he A New Hope Solo? Not at all. But nor should he be. The character we love has to come from somewhere. The salty smuggler in Mos Eisley cantina could not grow in a vacuum. (Vacuum, get it? It’s a space joke!). Given the benefit of time and good writing, Ehrenreich has the potential to get up to Ford’s chops and perhaps surpass them. Some of his delivery is a bit on the nose, “I’m a flier..”, but maybe that’s the way Young Han is supposed to be. This is a street rat with nothing to offer, scamming himself from one bad situation into the next slightly-less-bad situation. Just like the ship he bet against Lando in their first game of Sabaac, most of the substance under Han’s ploys simply does not exist for a Corellian street orphan. Ehrenreich makes a strong Star Wars Freshman effort here and the word is he is under contract for three more films in which he can grow. Now, will those be true Solo spin-offs in both name and soul? We don’t know. Maybe we just get to see his sordid past with Boba Fett in the upcoming film about the mandalorian bounty hunter.
Through the arc of the film, we cover a lot of ground -a glimpse at his Corellian origin with a nod to an absent father, the not insignificant early life off his lucky dice shown in TLJ, the source of his last name, how he met our favorite Wookiee star, more backstory to the Millennium Falcon than you expect, and his first troubled encounters with Lando! That is admittedly a lot to get done in a little over two hours, but all those canon notes are seamlessly woven throughout without a lot of wasted time spent emphasizing the gravity of the piece of history that has just been shown. Throughout, we have multiple takes on the classic Star Wars cantina trope and even a pretty groovy soul performance by a sexy female alien and her floating fish co-star. For those interested in soundtracks, “Chicken in the Pot” is a real treat when it pops up in the middle of a casual listen of the more classic Star Wars score.
The film is thematically consistent with what we know about Han’s place in the galaxy before ANH. We’re talking about an origin story of a street urchin from an imperial-occupied ship-building world, Corellia. Unlike the original trilogy, this is not about the rebel high-command orchestrating the “war” from the top down, dictating to the troops. Unlike the prequels, this isn’t high-falutin galactic politics as a pretense to Palpatine’s rise. And, unlike the new trilogy, this isn’t an exploration of a new generation of Jedi and Sith. Here we’re examining some of the souls who are just trying to make their way under the proverbial imperial boot. A less altruistic band of misfits than the crew of Rogue One, but dealing with the same conundrum of imperial rule. From a thematic point of view, this is a nice change of pace. Throughout the film, from joining the imperial navy on a whim to get out of dodge, to bs-ing his way into a coaxium fuel heist, Han is an opportunist to the core.
Some of the background settings, like the Star Destroyer shield generators being lifted into place by cranes during the initial intro “Car chase” should be real eye candy to Star Wars fans.
To boot, there is an on-the-ground, landing-on-normandy-esque, battle scene on Mimban.
This is where a lot of Star Wars fans should really get tickled. We love a good story, which I believe this “Star Wars Story” is, but we also love connected threads of canon. We’ve always heard about Chewie’s life debt to Han for Han saving Chewie from slavery. How that goes down, in truly Han blundering fashion, is a joy to watch however.
Coming back to the self-contained story itself, this film is a heist movie at its core. Think Ocean’s 11 in space without all the annoying industry inside jokes. A classic out of the fryer and into the pan scoundrel-fest. Each character, as I’ve said before, is trying to make their way as best they can, and their skewed moral compasses each happen to align, albeit by a slim margin, in a Venn diagram that this heist occupies. Han is presented to us as a thief and scoundrel, but not by choice, and naive in his thinking that he can somehow reach an ideal dream life making a living on the up and up.
Through a series of eye-opening experiences, he learns to be more like his mentor, Beckett, and rely on an extremely small (and furry) circle of friends. He loses a love to an imperial occupation force, ironically through the escape where he planned to secure their freedom. He is faced with the pointlessness of his military tasks under the empire. Shortly thereafter, his optimism is rocked by the death of Beckett’s love interest, Val, during the train heist. Once his initially-lost love double-crosses our little bad, and then triple-crosses Han, he is left with an extremely loyal Wookiee, a handful of hyperspace fuel, and his life. His new-found pessimism is illustrated in one short scene where, to many fans resounding joy, Han learns to shoot first and cuts down Beckett. So, no, this Han is not Harrison Ford or A New Hope Han. But by the end, he is well on his way.
Now, onto the negative. This film is a real Star Wars fan’s film. What I mean by that is that the Easter eggs, citations, and call-backs can be all-but-lost on the casual watcher. I’m not just talking about Q’ira’s off-hand reference to Teras Kasi either:
The significance of the ejection of the escape pod from the Falcon’s nose would probably be missed by most casual observers who probably didn’t notice the Falcon looked different to begin with–or even that it was supposed to be the same ship if it they did notice it was familiar but different. There was a reference to Beckett killing Aurra Sing, a bounty hunter with literally less than 20 seconds of screen time.
There are other deep references which are a pay off to fans. L3-37 being integrated into the Falcon’s navicomputer is a kick when you realize C-3Po says “Sir, I don’t know where your ship learned to communicate, but it has the most peculiar dialect.” in ESB.
These references are a double-edged sword, however. They reward the die hard fan while alienating the casual viewer. The casual viewer is left wondering why the hell L3-37 being integrated into the computer was even a plot point and what on Earth Lando has going on with droids (and how deep that love goes?). I enjoyed the references, but they may seem like dead-spots to those less steeped in the lore.
Besides deep-references that even hardcore Star Wars fans might miss. There are other flaws which amount to areas where more could be done in the film. The Sabaac scenes are merely gambling cinema tropes we have all seen before. Think James Bond in space surrounded by strange creatures.
Beckett’s loss of Val could have played a larger role in his double-cross of Lando. As it stands it was played off as “that’s just the life. she knew that.” and a punch to Han’s face. “We cool!?” “Yeah, we cool.” Onto the next heist. Beckett as a mere capitalist at the end without a little glimpse into his anger at Han over Val’s death was a wasted opportunity.
And finally, what about that final spoilerific reveal!?
Darth Maul, back from the dead, mother&*kE!
This is a love it or hate it moment in the film. It was bound to be deeply polarizing. Long-time Star Wars fans will be aware of Maul’s involvement in the galaxy’s underworld since his master cast him aside like a puppy after Christmas.
This scene for Star Wars fans unifies the Clone Wars resurrection of Maul with the live-action films. Taking the canon as a whole, this scene makes sense. However, the gravity is truly lost on the casual observer. My wife “didn’t he die!?” Yes, that is a perfectly reasonable reaction for the casual observer. Taken on the merits of its own depiction, this scene is weak. It leaves us hanging with many unanswered questions. I acknowledge that is the point. When performing these “last page” comic book style reveals in films, however, you always run the risk of dropping tempo in the ending and alienating certain viewers. Honestly, its the MCU’s biggest sin. Yes, it teases the next four, ten, eighty-four movies, but it also requires a buzzfeed article to explain to your mother-in-law.
Personally, I loved this scene. But I love Darth Maul and think he was the biggest wasted opportunity of the Prequel Trilogy. The Clone Wars cartoons atoned greatly for George’s sins in that area. However, taking my unbiased feelings out of the equation, this scene has to be cast as a negative.
Overall, Solo is an enjoyable romp which mixes equal parts heist, buddy movie, and sci-fi action film into an interesting gumbo that is a treat to re-watch. All that’s missing is the Chicken in the Pot and you can download that on iTunes.
Now for my favorite part! DrunkWooky’s arbitrary rating scale!
In the spirit of the movie, this rating system will be a Sabaac rating system!
In short, I must say that this film is a hand of Pure Sabaac, nearly unbeatable, but faced with an Idiot’s Array.
In layman’s terms.
5 Sabaac cards out of 7! Yep, 7, because I make the rules in my arbitrary rating systems!