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Thread: Solo: A Star Wars Story (Howard/Lord & Miller, 2018)

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by GR3 View Post
    It doesnt because maul dies before the OT. Wouldnt sutprise me if his organization is the background bad guys in the boba fett andd obi wan movies, leading to obi wan killing him for good
    Bummer though I was hoping it least there are things about this that connects to Episode IX

    As for the performances of the movie Ehrenreich and Glover were both ok but I felt they tried too hard to emulate the performances of Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams. Though they did nail it at the final scenes. I dunno I wished Ehrenreich and Glover tried their best but I felt like they should have been given the direction to make the role their own.

    Two things that bothered me about this movie in connection to the Star Wars universe
    - So Chewie went from an honorable Wookie helping the Jedi in the Prequels to a savage beast that eats anything that the empire feeds him?
    - Basically Chewie and Han were responsible for formation of the rebellion yet in A New Hope they seem not to care about them
    - Han seemed kind of scared facing the Empire in A New Hope until the very end but seems capable enough in out smarting them in more ways than one here.

  2. #42
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    Meh this is the first Star Wars film since The Phantom Menace that I didn't love

    There have been very few franchises that have been formative in the lives of many people as Star Wars. Despite the franchise only entering slightly later in my life than it should have, I can understand fully why George Lucas’ masterpiece of a space opera has been the definitive moment in the childhoods of multitudes of people around the world. The Original Trilogy (1977 to 1983) was absolutely incredible, and despite being far less impressive, the Prequel Trilogy (1999 to 2005) had their rough charms. The Sequel Trilogy, which we are currently awaiting the final chapter for, has been extraordinary, and a brilliant adaptation of the sensibilities of the original saga to a modern day perspective. However, I recently found an article written on how Lucasfilm has started to develop Star Wars into its own cinematic universe, much like how Marvel has done over the past decade. This is clear when considering that there have been two films that are standalone pieces *- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and now Solo: A Star Wars Story. These films don’t only share the quality of only being partially related to the main saga – they are also both possibly the lowest point in the history of Star Wars (a flippant statement, considering Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace forced the irreconcilable Jar Jar Binks on the unsuspecting world). The reason for this isn’t because either of these films are bad. It’s just that they are not particularly great either, and they lack something even the maligned prequel films had: magical charm. Solo is a tricky film because it is enjoyable – but it is nothing close to the gargantuan modern-day masterpieces that were The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

    I don’t need to speak about the entire storyline of Star Wars, what happened before and what is still to come in the chronology of the saga, because that is already well-documented (also, you can safely assume that this review will be void of any spoilers – I couldn’t spoil this film, even if I tried – precisely because nothing particularly interesting happens throughout). However, because apparently there was a campaign to get a Han Solo standalone film made, a fact I still feel was more a corporate decision rather than one motivated by fans (and I would be untruthful if I said I feel that this film just blossomed out of some witty wordplay, a “Han Solo solo movie”). Moreover, despite Harrison Ford being absolutely perfect in every way with what he did with Han Solo in the main saga, including his absolutely heartbreaking but thrilling send-off in The Force Awakens, there was still a need to provide more content towards this character (and as an enormous proponent of Han Solo – not only considering Ford’s performance the best in Star Wars history, but also the character being the best overall figure in the entirety of the Star Wars universe – I did not want anything more from this character than what we have received already). Solo, essentially, exists for no other reason than to fill in some gaps in the story set out by the Original Trilogy, showing some formative moments in Solo’s career as an outlaw, such as how he came into possession of the Millenium Falcon, as well as his oft-praised feat of doing the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. These are notable elements of the character that are indicated in the original films (as well as the recent main-saga trilogy) but never explicitly shown, but for a reason: they didn’t need to be shown. However, regardless of my gripes with this, Solo follows the titular bandit as he teams up with a rag-tag bunch of rogues and fiends, such as his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), his mentor Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), noted gambler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and his iconic sidekick, Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo, once again taking over the role from Peter Mayhew), as they go on a journey to retrieve special material for the space gangster Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). The gang meets peril and danger on their journey (because this film needed to obviously fill up the two hours that were not blatant fan-service with an actual story), and we get another entertaining glimpse into the galaxy far, far away.

    Let us just be clear: I did not dislike Solo, quite the contrary – it is one of the better mainstream blockbusters of the year so far. My ambivalence towards this film is more due to the fact that I expected so much more, considering Star Wars has always been a beacon of exceptional quality and originality. For all of his faults, absolutely no one could build universes like George Lucas and his merry band of collaborators who have worked together over the past forty years to create films that are astonishing, and a world that is intricate and filled with pleasant details. I would even go so far as to say that in this regard, Lucas can rival the unimpeachably brilliant J.R.R. Tolkien in how he constructs his expansive fantasy world (albeit, not quite as detailed). My problem with Solo is not that it is a bad film – its just an entirely unnecessary one. I understand that the intention was to explore characters and stories outside the realm of the main, ongoing saga, and I admire that. Rogue One was not great, but it did tell a somewhat original story (its main shortcomings were in the execution). Solo was unneeded, because there was plenty of Han Solo in the main saga before, and his role was absolutely pitch-perfect, with Ford bringing everything the audience could possibly want to this character. I fully support films that focus on being standalone stories about a younger Master Yoda, or Obi-Wan Kenobi’s life between the two main sagas (or essentially, how he went from Ewan McGregor to Alec Guinness). In fact, I feel like Solo focused on the wrong character entirely, one that was actually present in the film, Lando Calrissian, who could have easily made a fascinating subject of his own film. The problem isn’t only that Solo was focused on a character that didn’t require any more exposure – it focused on a character whose background was already well-stated, and his ultimate fate was already known. Therefore, this film, as mentioned before, was simply an attempt to fill in the gaps and visually represent moments that did not need it. It was an attempt to bank on the success of one of the most beloved characters in the saga, without actually constructing an entirely new story to go with it. Once again, I did not dislike Solo. For all intents and purposes, it is a good film. It just isn’t one we really needed (or wanted, actually).

    I won’t deny that despite not agreeing with the choice to give Han Solo is own film at the beginning, there was one factor that actually excited me about this film in the beginning stages, the individuals who were brought on to direct it, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. I have grown very fond of this directing duo, whether it be their work on the wonderful television show The Last Man on Earth, or their terrific films 21 Jump Street or Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. However, they made a film that is nothing short of a bona fide latter-day masterpiece, The LEGO Movie. What could have been nothing more than just a mediocre animated film actually turned out to be an intelligent, hilarious and meaningful film that contained a very special meaning to a lot of people. As Miller and Lord have shown throughout their career, they are adept at handling nostalgia in the right way and are capable of using the successes of yesteryear in original ways, repurposing them to be original and exciting. Their involvement behind the scenes of Solo was very exciting because perhaps we would be getting the same irreverent humor, endearing characters and enormous heart of the directors’ previous films. I always imagined a film about Han Solo and Chewbacca to be something akin to “Lethal Weapon in space”. Of course, because injustice is rife in the film industry, they were removed from the film, for reasons that are still somewhat unclear, but apparently, the comedic approach they were taking to the story were contrary to the tone intended. Personally, Star Wars has always succeeded when it balances levity and seriousness, especially when it came to Han Solo. Of course, the replacement director was Ron Howard, who is a talented director, but not someone who inspires much confidence in terms of innovative filmmaking (at least nowadays). The tense nature of this production shows in the film because the humor just doesn’t land, and considering how obvious this film’s narrative is, the big moments, such as the first sighting of Chewbacca, or the first glimpse of the Millenium Falcon, are deflated and muted. Howard is a decent director, but I just wish they had retained Lord and Miller, albeit perhaps compromising and getting their participation on the direction the film was supposed to take or find a more exciting and under-heralded director to put his or her touch on this story, which could have at least then resulted in a major hit for an up-and-coming filmmaker. Howard was the safe and predictable choice, and thus Solo is a safe and predictable film.

    The most important part of Solo was not the story – I’ve mentioned it countless times, but the actual events of this film are inconsequential because Solo is a film strung around a few key and iconic moments. The factor that built this film is the cast, and I honestly cannot find too much fault in this ensemble, which is solid and reliable as one could hope. Alden Ehrenreich, who is a rising star, gets his first major role in a huge production with this film, and he is good, but not anything close to what Harrison Ford brought to this character. Understandably, it is clear that I did have high expectations, and thus I am biased and would always see Solo as being a diminished version of a story I love. However, I also desperately wanted to love this film, and I would hold onto anything redeemable. The best way to view Ehrenreich’s performance is in the same way as how many viewers perceive Heath Ledger’s performance of The Joker: just another interpretation of an iconic character, one that should not be compared to previous interactions of the character. In this instance, this is slightly more difficult, as Ehrenreich only had one forefather in Ford’s characterization, and thus there would always be a process of examining the two in close proximity to each other. Comparing them is a futile exercise because all the flaw’s in Ehrenreich’s performance become even more glaring – the cocky stride, the relentless confidence and the roguish charm that defined Han Solo before are unfortunately lost here. Ehrenreich is good in the role, and he works exhaustingly hard in playing this character. However, he cannot come anywhere close to Ford’s iconic performance, and the legendary swagger of the character that has allowed him to endure for generations is almost entirely absent in this performance. I don’t derive pleasure out of criticizing this performance, but there was very little of Ford in this performance, and considering Ford defined the character of Han Solo, Ehrenreich had an impossible task to accomplish here, which was obviously unapproachably difficult. The only way to have remedied this was to just not have made this film at all, which does seem harsh, but its also brutally honest.

    The rest of the cast, however, did impress me more. Arguably, this is because they were either playing entirely new characters or minor characters that did not garner enough in the previous films to have impossibly high standards to meet. Emilia Clarke is wonderful as Solo’s girlfriend and the cunning but loyal Qi’ra, and while this performance is not necessarily difficult for her (she has made a career out of playing a fierce and willful female character in a fantasy world), she does well in imbuing this film with emotional gravitas. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is splendid as L3-37, the sarcastic and feisty robot companion to Lando Calrissian. Not much can be said about her performance, considering it is only very brief, but also entirely voice-over, but Waller-Bridge is absolutely brilliant with what she is given (and once again, I must acknowledge my own bias, because I consider Fleabag to be possibly the best television show of the current decade). Woody Harrelson is also in this film, and I have yet to find a Harrelson performance I did not adore. Arguably, he is not playing a character he normally plays, this time a stern and somewhat humorless mentor-figure (its not surprising the unquestionably serious Christian Bale was first attached to the role), but he is as great as always, and while his character of Beckett was somewhat misformed in terms of motivations, Harrelson is terrific. The real star of this film, as alluded to previously, is Donald Glover, who is having a well-deserved moment of acclaim right now, with both his television show Atlanta being an enormous critical and commercial success, but also his music (under his alter ego Childish Gambino) finally making an impact. We don’t realize it right now, but Glover is making an indelible impact on popular culture right now, and giving the best performance in Solo is only contributing to his meteoric rise to universal acclaim. Not only that, he takes a familiar character and unquestionably makes it his own – the characterization of Lando is absolutely astonishing, with it being undeniably Glover, but with clear traces of Billy Dee Williams shining through in a way that does not force the performance to be unfavorably compared to the previous incarnation, but rather allows for strong continuity. Glover is most certainly the best part of this film, and despite his slightly diminished role, he was marvelous. I do not condone any more needless standalone films, but if the same attention is paid in these films as was here, I would support a Lando film, simply because Glover is fantastic in it, and he contributes to an otherwise forgettable film.

    The problem I have with Solo, above all else, is that it lacks everything I hold most dear about Star Wars. This film is entertaining, but in a way we’d expect from a well-made action film, not an entry into the legendary Star Wars franchise. It isn’t difficult to see why the Original Trilogy has legions of ardent fans – despite being dated, artificial and often unrealistically silly, they have an overabundance of soul. Star Wars is not about the visuals, it’s not about the technological innovation (these just come part and parcel of these films). It’s about the heart of the story. Solo, as well-meaning as it is, feeling empty and insincere. There is nothing particularly warm or endearing about this film, and it just attempts to rely on nostalgia and the saga’s mythology to get by. The result, as mentioned before, is a weak central storyline that is so predictable in how it will progress, every element of surprise or excitement is rendered useless. The least one could hope for was for this film to delve into the unseen mythology, contributing to the expansive Star Wars universe. However, it remains relatively intact, and there is nothing much contributed other than a few characters (most of which probably won’t extend out of this film). New worlds are not explored, new memorable characters aren’t introduced, and the film does a more notable job at needlessly stripping away elements of the saga that I think should have remained in place (such as a moment that reveals how our protagonist got his name, which was unneeded, to say the least). I’d go so far as to remark that Solo is not a Star Wars film – its a film about Star Wars, because it doesn’t really contribute anything new to the mythology, other than confirming and portraying iconic moments that could have easily thrived on in our imagination, like they have for the past four decades.

    In conclusion, I am struck by something that is said a few times through this film, a piece of wisdom provided by Harrelson’s character, Beckett, who notes that “people are predictable”, and while that is certainly true, films can also be dreadfully predictable, and that is perhaps the biggest shortcoming of Solo – it isn’t that it is bad by any means, but that it is too predictable, too safe and ultimately just a bit of a bore, without anything interesting to say. I am broken by the fact that I am so ambivalent towards this film (I so desperately wanted to adore it) – but at the same time, I feel like if we live in an era where Star Wars isn’t just a beloved relic of our childhoods and a series of films we visit for the sake of nostalgia, but rather an active part of the current cinematic landscape, we can at least hope that it would be entertaining and contribute something new and exciting with each new instalment. That’s what we need, not middling storylines without an iota of originality (I am dreading the inevitable batch of standalone origin stories that we will receive, such as the already announced Boba Fett film by James Mangold, a film that precisely no one asked for). I don’t want to speak ill of Solo, because its intentions are good, and it is an entertaining experience, and perfectly adequate as a well-made science fiction film, but it falls short of living up to the impossibly-high precedent set by previous films. If Star Wars is going to become this…dull, then maybe it is time to just put it back on the shelf before it is no longer in the mint condition that it was before. I can only end this review with an earnest plea: help us, Episode IX, you’re our only hope.
    Voters, I'm dealing with reality. You're dealing with the fears you've always had for this old legend.
    Oh, for Christ's sake, voters! You threw away six of your most valuable wins giving the Oscars to damn starlets,
    just in the hopes that they'd acknowledge your existence and maybe be proud of you


  3. #43
    Senior Member JangoB's Avatar
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    Even though it's not the most memorable film ever, one thing I can't get out of my head is the new John Williams theme
    Such an exciting, restless piece of adventure music with a grand finale that makes me do conductor moves with my hands - I love it so much! Williams's work really is one of the most vital reasons for why SW has endured so much.


  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aurelius View Post

    I think the biggest problem the film has is that there is not really a villain. I mean, technically Bettany is, but he is not super-evil like a Palpatine or a Vader. He just double-crosses them, but he's not that different from Harrelson's Beckett, I would say. I loved the double- and triple-crossing at the end. Very much looking forward to a sequel.

    .

    I mean, he doesn't even doublecross anyone, does he? Well, I suppose he's willing to look the other on the gang robbing one of his ostensible allies, but as far as Han and company were concerned, he was kind of the wronged party. He was willing to give everyone second chances except Han himself, who he really didn't have a relationship with. Like, not saying he was a good guy--he was ruthless and inferred to be abusive, but I think he was almost like, the bad guy in a bawdy romantic comedy, not the kind of villainous you'd need to be in a movie about galactic pirates.

  5. #45
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    Some thoughts:

    1) This was great
    2) It is pretty standard FOR STAR WARS...which is pretty damn good. Compared to other adventure movies, it's pretty great
    3) L3 was amazing. "I AM SENTIENT!" might be in my top 10 star wars lines, certainly the best of this movie
    4) Good twists. Did not see Woody's betrayal coming.
    5) Donald Glover was pitch perfect. I thought he was flawless, actually. Loved his interpretation of Lando

    Worst thing about the movie is Alden. I knew I'd dislike him from the trailers, so it's fine. Han was written well at least so I got past his stilted acting. He has the same tone of voice for like everything, especially when he has his "cocky" lines. Except, his tone of voice is very dull and sleepy to me, so when he's giving attitude sounding like he's barely awake it sounds really really weird.

    It's probably #6 in the series for me, but still a solid 4.5/5 for me. After #6 is the three prequels which are all below 4/5, so maybe it's not saying much lol.

  6. #46
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    Funny, Alden surprised me. And Glover underwhelmed me. I had expected the opposite.

  7. #47
    Technicality no down boo over?! flibber's Avatar
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    Mostly this reminded me of the conspiracy episode of Community.

  8. #48
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    So that alien squid monster thing, that's the biggest creature ever to appear in a Star Wars film by far, no?

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dil & Fergus View Post
    So that alien squid monster thing, that's the biggest creature ever to appear in a Star Wars film by far, no?
    Was there not some small planet that ended up being a creature in one of the OT or I am mixing it from a different space movie ?

  10. #50
    Noli Me Tangere lazarus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dil & Fergus View Post
    So that alien squid monster thing, that's the biggest creature ever to appear in a Star Wars film by far, no?

    RIVETTE, TOUJOURS

  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bamm View Post
    Was there not some small planet that ended up being a creature in one of the OT or I am mixing it from a different space movie ?

  12. #52
    I just got out of this and whoo boy, it was a snoozefest but I'm kind of sad that it wasn't a better movie because I found Alden's Han genuinely likeable and charming. There was an earnestness that he brought to that role that I really liked. I actually thought Glover was trying way too hard and found him incredibly underwhelming. Most of the movie was underwhelming tbh. I would have liked to have seen what Lord and Miller would have done because I think a more comedic take on this would have really worked with the Han Alden is doing but I guess now we'll never know.

  13. #53
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    More taken with the production design and cinematography than I expected. Some too dim scenes asides this is one gorgeous, tangible Star Wars. I almost liked the genre hotpot of derring-do heist and twisty noir too if they're mixed a little better; the half-hearted, almost-but-not-quite comedic tone dilutes both aspects at long stretches. The film is not committed to being light enough or weighty enough, so the story comes off fast-moving but unmemorable.

    Fascinating though to think of the differences, maybe perceived from my own end, between the main entries and anthology ones. Even the best of the Episodes traffic in larger-than-life personalities that never feel as real as the people in these two. The (underrated imo) Rogue One team may be weak on individual characterization but their scrappy dispensability as a whole feels weighty, especially when it comes to that stirring climax (and this point is underlined in the last Vader scene).

    Meanwhile, Solo's vivid characters are its strongest point, feeling like real little people struggling in the cracks and shadows of the saga's main lore (Quite shrewd having Ehrenreich and his character still developing, not yet on the way to that irreplicable larger-than-life Han), so the way the film dovetails several arcs in the home stretch becomes quite resonating for me, terrible cameo asides. And it may help explains why this has the most complex, fascinating female character in the entire Star Wars series. Everyone was good here -- Glover's role is more minor than I expected, but charisma oozes and sparks fly immediately with his appearance, and he plays off so well with both Ehrenreich and that damn great robot -- but it turns out I will be interested in that maybe sequel mostly for Clarke's character. 6.5/10
    Last edited by Peng; 06-14-2018 at 10:18 AM.

  14. #54
    Noli Me Tangere lazarus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peng View Post
    Meanwhile, Solo's vivid characters are its strongest point, feeling like real little people struggling in the cracks and shadows of the saga's main lore (Quite shrewd having Ehrenreich and his character still developing, not yet on the way to that irreplicable larger-than-life Han), so the way the film dovetails several arcs in the home stretch becomes quite resonating for me, terrible cameo asides. And it may help explains why this has the most complex, fascinating female character in the entire Star Wars series. Everyone was good here -- Glover's role is more minor than I expected, but charisma oozes and sparks fly immediately with his appearance, and he plays off so well with both Ehrenreich and that damn great robot -- but it turns out I will be interested in that maybe sequel mostly for Clarke's character. 6.5/10

    Glad to see someone who agrees with me on the characters. I find it odd when people say Clarke was underused or that Qi'ra was underdeveloped.
    RIVETTE, TOUJOURS

  15. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by lazarus View Post
    Glad to see someone who agrees with me on the characters. I find it odd when people say Clarke was underused or that Qi'ra was underdeveloped.
    K. Austin Collins lightly compares her to Johnny Guitar's Joan Crawford and I agree with his assessment of the character:

    Clarke, too, shines as a woman who’s made sacrifices Han cannot imagine. To the extent that the movie is a western at heart, its smartest, subtlest influence is the Joan Crawford classic Johnny Guitar, about a woman who makes her way in the Wild West against all odds, and in the face of all morality. It’s a poignant, intriguing-enough buried subplot that I almost wished Qi’ra were the star of her own story. Maybe, someday, she could be.

  16. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by lazarus View Post
    Glad to see someone who agrees with me on the characters. I find it odd when people say Clarke was underused or that Qi'ra was underdeveloped.
    Maybe it's because there's clearly more to her character, but i also think that doesn't mean she's underused or underdeveloped.

  17. #57
    Noli Me Tangere lazarus's Avatar
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    She probably has more screen time and substance than Leia in A New Hope. And I’d argue her character is more nuanced than Jyn Erso in Rogue One.
    RIVETTE, TOUJOURS

  18. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peng View Post
    K. Austin Collins lightly compares her to Johnny Guitar's Joan Crawford and I agree with his assessment of the character:
    Oooh, that's an interesting comparison!

    I agree that Qi'ra is an intriguing character and I really like how her arc differs from Han's. They're both good people in a world that makes it almost impossible to be good, so what do you do? Han chooses to be constantly on the run from his problems, becoming a deserter and a pirate in the process, but despite his efforts to convince himself otherwise, he remains a good person and ultimately helps out other good people. Unfortunately, the life he's chosen means he has to be always on the move.

    Qi'ra, on the other hand, is a pure survivor who will do whatever it takes to stay alive. She too is pulled in the direction of good, but she remains focused on her primary goal: survival at all costs. She manages to keep Han alive by helping him with his plan, which shows that she still cares about him, while smartly climbing another rung higher on the Crimson Dawn power ladder. She could have played it safe and attempted neither, letting Han fail on his own, maintaining her position within Crimson Dawn, and then just seeing where the chips fall when Beckett and Han have to fight their way out of the situation. But instead, she orchestrates a grand power move that greatly benefits her and removes Dryden Vos from the equation. We can assume that Vos has subjected her to some pretty awful stuff in exchange for taking her under his wing, so this is all a huge win for Qi'ra. That she did all of this without completely screwing Han over, thus retaining some sliver of a moral code, is especially amazing.

    It's also neat how Han spends years of his life and a chunk of the movie thinking he has to go rescue Qi'ra, when in fact she needs no rescuing and is actually much better off than he is. This also seems to be a key part of Han's growth. He focuses all of his empathy and energy on one person and when he discovers how unnecessary all that was, he slowly gains an appreciation for the whole or, in this case, all the other underprivileged people living under the Empire's thumb.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sara Allorn View Post
    Maybe it's because there's clearly more to her character, but i also think that doesn't mean she's underused or underdeveloped.
    I think the handling of Qi'ra's character is pretty true to the OT's handling of many of its characters, though. That doesn't mean it has to work for everyone, but I think it fits the saga in a clever way. Han's backstory is vague when we meet him in A New Hope. The character is built on presence and charisma. Yoda is a legend that we know very little about in Empire. Lando is just an old friend of Han's with a few stories to tell. We meet all of these characters (and many more) while they're in the middle of carrying around all this baggage. Qi'ra is the same, even though we first meet her in a different place at the start of the movie, so we arguably know more about her origins than we do the OT characters I just mentioned.

    Her development throughout the movie works for me. We can fill in a lot of the blanks regarding what she had to do to appease Dryden Vos and I think the tug-of-war between her genuine joy of seeing her lost love again and her desire to orchestrate Dryden Vos's downfall so she can seize greater power is well established.

    The movie has to mainly focus on Han's story, of course, while also giving a lot of attention to Beckett, because he's Han's mentor (a major role in Star Wars lore) and he's key to understanding what makes Han, well, Han. He wants to be Beckett (cold, ruthless, distrusting), but try as he might, he is compelled to do the right thing. Given the time it takes to establish that relationship, focus on Han, give Chewie lots of nice moments, and stuff the whole thing with action, I think quite a lot is done with Qi'ra's allotment of the story.

    Also, I eventually wrote an actual review of this. Probably nothing new said here, but I figured I'd post it since I wrote it! I couldn't help myself with that final line.

    Solo

    Perhaps, despite his stubborn commitment to mostly mediocre, often biographical period dramas in the long post-80s portion of his career, Ron Howard simply has a knack for fantasy. Having previously teamed with George Lucas on his dazzling, if derivative, 1988 sword-and-sorcery adventure Willow, Howard has now returned, 30 years later, to a staple of the fantasy genre by climbing aboard Lucas-less Lucasfilm’s latest jaunt through the company’s beloved galaxy far, far away. Solo: A Star Wars Story is, like Willow, comprised of recycled parts, but it’s a surprisingly enjoyable experience that proves smart enough to stay the occasional step or two ahead of lore-conscious fans.

    A prequel tale about Han Solo’s origins always sounded like a terrible idea to this fan and Howard’s late hiring as a replacement for comic geniuses and improv-encouraging original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller tasted like a limply vanilla decision for a movie that could use some particularly spicy creative juices.

    But beyond the directors lies a script by veteran screenwriter and longtime Star Wars associate Lawrence Kasdan, who shares the credit with his son Jonathan. While this is far from the finest work by the senior Kasdan, the script arms its story with a respect for the series and an understanding of franchise baggage that freshens the tale just enough to keep things interesting.

    There’s an obvious checklist of references that the movie inevitably feels obligated to complete, but Kasdan ticks each box with a dash of humour and a fair shot at keeping the reference-anticipating audience guessing. So even though there’s an inherent lameness in knowing that the movie will cover such Solo-centric events discussed in the Original Trilogy as how the rogue-ish hero won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) or how the iconic ship accomplished the Kessel run in a mere 12 parsecs, the script parlays these tales into fun sequences punctuated with good gags.

    The plot charts Han’s (Alden Ehrenreich) rise from the streets to the skies, chronicling the various happenings that help form the character as we know him, which include a stint in the Imperial infantry and the loss of his dear lover Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), from whom Han is separated during a risky escape attempt.

    Falling in with a band of thieves bankrolled by a shady organization and led by the morally unmoored Beckett (Woody Harrelson), whose attitude makes him a Solo prototype of sorts, Han takes the long road to becoming the man that was originally played so iconically by Harrison Ford. Certain milestones along the way are marked quite wonderfully, such as the introduction of Han’s eventual best bud Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), while some of the plot twists and sequel setup drag the movie down at certain junctures. It’s not always a smooth ride and the 135-minute running time feels unwieldy for such a light adventure, but it stays pretty firmly on the rails.

    Locating a balance between the checklist items and all the narrative stuffing that is required to connect the dots is the movie’s greatest challenge, one that it overcomes in the end. Kasdan’s script prioritizes Han’s arc over everything else and the movie emerges as a solid ode to the character. We watch as he tries desperately to assert himself as the villain in his own story, someone who won’t be fooled by others and is in this life only for himself, but ultimately, it’s a charade he can’t maintain. Han is a good guy who shows up for his friends when they need him most.

    This is, of course, exactly what we already know of Han from his initial appearance in A New Hope, which is a movie full of famous bits where Han’s triumphant eleventh hour return to help Luke blow the Death Star and go home is one of its most treasured moments. So it’s clear that Solo isn’t really revealing anything particularly new about its protagonist, making it tempting to criticize the whole movie as rather pointless.

    After all, seeing the actual Kessel run after first hearing about it more than 40 years ago feels pretty far from necessary in a franchise that has long stumbled around the specifics of its own history, but as a standalone movie that aims only to play lightly with its mythology and comically fill in some blanks along the way, Solo is considerably successful.

    A big reason for this is Ehrenreich, who has the most impossible task of any one person involved in the movie. While Howard jumped on board late into production and composer John Powell took over much of the scoring duties from the legendary and incomparable John Williams, it’s Ehrenreich that’s in the least enviable position. Filling Ford’s shoes is a tall order, so Ehrenreich wisely avoids attempting a Ford impression and focuses instead on establishing his own version of the character. It’s still convincingly Han Solo, thanks partially to Kasdan’s script writing him that way, but mainly because Ehrenreich captures the essence of the character with a swagger he can call his own.

    Ehrenreich carries much of the movie while Chewbacca is there to help with the heavier lifting, but the main thing is that this is all kept mostly light. The more oddball moments that feel like leftovers from the Lord and Miller portion of the shoot are often where the movie is at its best, but it’s only fair to give much of the credit to Howard, who has salvaged a solid yarn from the wreckage of a problematic production. Sometimes, it’s not about who shoots first, but rather who finishes the job.

  19. #59
    Certified Hildi-stan kupo's Avatar
    Join Date: Dec 2007
    Location: In a feathered bedroom
    Posts: 5,723
    I finally got around to seeing this and...it was good!

    Its direction isn't as singular or nearly as satisfying as either TLJ or Rogue One (and, to a lesser extent, TFA) but it is good ol' fashioned fun. Most of its set pieces (save the train heist/Nest face off) aren't as satisfying as the other films, nor does it have the visual integrity that the other Disney era films have had (though, that's not to say it's a slouch in either of these departments). But what it lacks in some of these formal qualities it makes up for in the sheer charisma of some of its lead performances.

    There was obviously a lot of hand-wringing about Ehrenreich, but I thought he did pretty wonderfully in evoking Ford's performance and mannerisms. Glover, similarly, was a triumph. Most of the failings with Han and Lando in this film rest with the screenplay. With Han especially, the script just doesn't seem to give him the same verbal bravado that he has in other films. Actually, I thought a LOT of the humor in this particular film was oddly timed or half-hearted in conception; say what you will about TLJ's gags, but Rian Johnson leaned into them. L3 is maybe the perfect example of this. She's a great character conceptually, but the writing for her is so much duller and more sloppily timed than the writing for K2. And you could sense that looseness in the screenplay with Lando and Han as well. It felt like it just needed another draft to make everything a little more crisp.

    I also thought it sort of ended with a whimper. All the double crosses at the end kind of fizzle, the Nest reveal/backstory feels limp. It kind of just meanders through the last half hour, which felt very odd.

    But Qi'ra. What a wonderful character. A woman who certainly isn't a damsel in distress, but nor does she come across as a flat kick ass chick stereotype. She has her own layered and independent motivations and internal conflicts that don't feel plot contrivance-y, and all of that feels effortless. She's just allowed to be Han's equal, full stop. That shouldn't feel like such a victory, but it still kind of did. If we don't get anymore films that follow this group of characters (which certainly seems like a real possibility at this point), it will be most disappointing because of the promise a character like Qi'ra has.

    Anyway, yeah. This was alright. I enjoyed it.

  20. #60
    Reasonable and nice moderator Timmer's Avatar
    Join Date: Jan 2009
    Location: Canada
    Posts: 7,902
    I saw this while on vacation, and it was... ok? I guess? Like, it isn't Phantom Menace awful, but it certainly isn't great...

    Considering the chaos in making it, I guess it's a miracle it is actually alright, but I think the biggest issue is that I was much more interested in Emilia Clarke's character... at this point, instead of another Solo film one day, I'd actually rather her backstory to see how she came to be Bettany's lieutenant, etc. and why she is working with Darth Maul?

    And LOL that Ron Howard or whoever felt that we wouldn't get that it was Darth Maul, so they had him randomly trigger his double saber for no reason? Like, I think we recognize him, lol?

    Anyway whatever, I've already forgotten half of the film, and the names of every character not named Han, Chewy and Lando.
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