May 25th, 2018

I Know

He's Going Solo and Chewbacca is Going with Him

I went to the first showing to-day of the nice new Star Wars movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story. To-day was opening day but there were only five or six other people in the theatre with me. I guess people are getting used to Star Wars movies coming out all the time, though I suppose there were probably a lot more people at the early screenings last night.

It's a good movie. Not half as good as Rogue One but Solo has several virtues I tend not to expect from movies nowadays. Ron Howard's not one of my favourite directors though I prefer him any day over guys who'd turn it into a Lego movie. I do have some nostalgic fondness for Willow and Splash and I was surprised how often I was reminded of Willow during Solo, not just because Warwick Davis is in it. The title cards instead of crawl and many aspects of the film's climax reminded me of Willow.

Spoilers after the screenshot

I loved how well screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan and Jonathan Kasdan built Han's backstory. I love the fact that they went with the old Extended Universe idea of Han having come from Corellia and Corellia being kind of like Detroit. Han's father having worked on YT-1300s in a factory until he was laid off was a brilliant idea. And then they nicely add to this a whole Oliver Twist style gang of kids Han belongs to with some kind of big worm in place of Fagin. Having this followed by Han as a grunt in an Imperial force subjugating the populace of some miserable world feels like Imperial Britain shipping poor lads off to fight in India or Africa. I would have liked more concrete examples of why Han doesn't consider himself a good person, though, like showing some innocent people he robbed or screwed over. Though his showdown with Tobias (Woody Harrelson) is bound to leave a scar even as it is a confirmation of what we all knew--Han is perfectly capable of shooting first.

Alden Ehrenreich is great in the role--he has the swagger but more importantly the sense of youthful vulnerability that was crucial to the main characters of the original trilogy. And he sells that background for Han. I loved how an Imperial officer unceremoniously assigned him the name "Solo" and how it reflected the concept that, although he made friends throughout the movie, he was entering a world where he couldn't trust anyone. Except Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), I guess.

Chewbacca's introduction is great. He's come down in the galaxy a lot since we saw him in Revenge of the Sith--he's unrecognisable caked in mud and really seems a kind of beast. The guy in a hairy suit is a weirder and more captivating monster than any generic cgi. But I did like the big Lovecraftian tentacle beast in the Kessel Run.

Renaissance man Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian was also great casting. He goes for a bit more of an impression of Billy Dee Williams than Ehrenreich does of Harrison Ford but it works. Glover definitely got the voice down.

The weakest link in the cast is Emilia Clarke. I bought the idea of them as friends on Corellia but after that I thought she was a bit flat for most of the film. I didn't think there was much chemistry between her and Ehrenreich though I wouldn't necessarily consider that a flaw--it would make sense if this young man has a one sided attraction to this femme fatale. But I would have liked to have gotten a sense of more vulnerability from her. The characters needed to have more selfish behaviour to feel guilty about. I think it would have been better if there was more ambiguity about whether or not Han could've brought her with him when he left Corellia instead of that door definitely separating them.

Like the end of Willow, one of this film's climactic scenes takes place in a small room at the top of the villain's tower. I wish they'd stuck to gunplay instead of using knives and swords. Lightsabres and Donnie Yen are tough acts to follow. I was excited about the idea that we were finally getting a Star Wars movie without lightsabres--not that I hate lightsabres, I think they're great, but the Star Wars universe has the potential to be bigger than that. But then Darth Maul shows up.

The movie's surprisingly filled with references to Star Wars media outside the movies. This was the first acknowledgement in a movie that Darth Maul didn't die in Phantom Menace. With his mechanical legs and the mention of Dathomir it basically confirms the events of Clone Wars are part of the movie universe. I'd forgotten how many of the crime syndicate names thrown around--like the Pykes--were also mentioned in Clone Wars. I think I would've preferred the leader of Crimson Dawn had been revealed to be Xizor or Talon Karrde, I was never really into the idea of Maul being a crimelord. But I'd be pleased if this means we're going to be seeing more of Dathomir, maybe even Asajj Ventress.

It was a good movie. Though, again, not half as good as Rogue One. It made me appreciate again how incredible the cinematography is in Rogue One. Greg Fraser should do the cinematography on all the Star Wars movies from now on.

Twitter Sonnet #1117

A border marked in braces walked the pants.
A helpless trip resolved a tourist fall.
A spring returned to bounce the footless plants.
A sandy sink absorbs the draining wall.
The 80s made a neon auditor.
The breakfast nuts condemn the very air.
A bunch of boots'll break the monitor.
Distractions build and what is over there?
A rolling morning country saved the moss.
A thinner man could know a stone from his.
A tower watch was changing guard at loss.
The lady told the joker where it is.
A grimy world instructs the scrappy poor.
A fuel is useless 'neath the shiny floor.