I said I wasn’t going to give out any more money to this bankrupt Star Wars franchise. But, I had hope for this Star Wars story, and when my friend suggested Solo to escape the obtrusive July 4th heat, I jumped at the chance.
The precedence for my aspirations were twofold.
Only Some 'Star Wars' Stories Have Hope
After seeing The Force Awakened, I realized that extending Star Wars beyond the original trilogy is essentially a futile endeavor.
In case you missed it… The Star Wars universe is really contained in a pretty small box. Technology vs. spiritualism wrapped up in a mythological Oedipal Complex: how many storylines can there?
TFA, TLJ: You’re simply telling the same story over and over again, while the sound and special effects rupture your senses.
On the other hand, Rogue One showed that a screenplay running tangent to the original storyline could hold water. Unfortunately, Disney really didn't go rogue and left too many leaks. But the potential was there, and RO remains the only post-trilogy movie that has any merit.
In accordance, I clung to the possibilities for Solo. But let’s digress again.
There’s Enough to Make the Originals Endure
I saw Star Wars when I was 13. So, a question must be asked. Was it really as great as all that? Or was I a 13-year-old blown away by a restless wannabe boy hero, special effects never seen before, and an explosive happy ending?
Seeing it through the eyes of an adult, I would say my prepubescent perception was somewhat off. I’ve also long known that Star Wars does not have the rich science fiction depth of Star Trek and other thought-driven fantasy.
But the originals certainly have enough to make them to endure. The mythological underpinnings that draw on antiquities such as the Iliad, the Bible, and Shakespeare certainly help carry the expanse. In addition, the epic struggle between Luke and Darth Vader hits much closer to home than the far, far away setting. And the spiritual journey is a crisis of faith that we all face.
The trilogy also has the greatest villain in the history of film, but above all, there’s Han Solo. So if Star Wars does succumb as a simple action adventure in space, Harrison Ford is the preeminent pirate that makes the Kessel run to the top of that list.
Thus, in my estimation, the chances for an acceptable installment were well founded.
A New Han - Not Quite
We meet the new Han already on the run, and the girl he’s with is more than just a partner in crime. But the jaded cynic and endearing scoundrel we know must have a backstory, and duo is destined to be separated.
The moment is pretty dramatic. However, the weak set up does not allow this inciting incident to rise to the level of another loss suffered by Harrison Ford. Karen Allen’s apparent death in Raiders actually hurts, while Qi’ra’s capture seems a little too convenient.
Nonetheless, Han’s escape from a life of slavery sets the premise in motion. He needs a ship to return and rescue his damsel (Emilia Clarke).
Sorry, the one to one relationship the film is forcing just does not compute. In other words, the filmmakers expect us to assume that once Millennium Falcon lands in Solo’s lap, everything will be all better. Sorry, the iconic ship is not the Enterprise. Han can’t just waltz in, point is photon torpedoes and make demands.
Nonetheless, Solo realizes the first part of his plan by hooking up with some pretty worthy scoundrels. Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, and Jon Favreau take Solo on, and their planned heist will put the needed money for a ship in Han’s pocket.
I Was Not Awakened
But despite the high octane, green screened acrobatics, I realized that falling asleep was a much more appealing prospect. I did pay $14 for this crap, though, so I did some forcing of my own to keep my eyes open.
The struggle soon led me to a realization. This Star Wars story was more like someone put a camera on a bank robbery and simply followed the characters along. Stressful and dramatic for the perpetrators but not necessarily for those who are being spoon fed the feed.
As a result, this cabal could just as well have been picking up their laundry or driving the kids to soccer practice.
Another Missed Opportunity for the Franchise
Even so, the movie could still have worked. How about starting with an actor who could actually play the lead. Alden Ehrenreich did not cut it.
The same goes Donald Glover’s portrayal of Lando Calrissian. Two stiffs and what’s troubling is that the other actors navigate their rolls just fine. So you can’t blame the script, directing or whatever makes actors seem flat.
It’s also disappointing that so little was reaped from the Lando-Han relationship. The sheer presence of the duo’s introductory scene in The Empire Strikes back almost screams out for a backstory. One so strong that you would think a stand alone movie could almost write itself.
Inexplicable and the lack of a towering bad guy shouldn’t be a surprise either. Of course, Dryden Vos can’t loom as big as the greatest movie villain of all time. But his cookie cutter set up and snide smile does little to up the urgency.
My ability to stay awake fared no better. So much so that I hoped my friend would notice, and we could hit the snooze button on this disaster. Still, I had to hold out—especially if I was going to provide a review.
But suddenly, he got up and walked out. Hesitating, I looked at the clock, and decided if the first 90 minutes amounted to nothing, there was no reason to go solo. I can easily wait for the DVD release to see the rest.
In the interim, I would greatly appreciate not spoiling the end so I can eventually see how bad this film is in its entirety.
Please like My Movie Reviews on Facebook.
To reach author: [email protected]