Solo: A Star Wars Story Is Out Now.
The Corellian scoundrel has finally got his own backstory, but is it a story worth telling or should it have been left deep inside the spice mines of Kessel?
These days I have no high expectations with the Star Wars films, hey I'm just being honest. The first trilogy I have come to realise, had some sort of kismetical alignment, where ideas, actors, direction and production values came majestically together to create a grand space-opera, that may never be equalled ever again. With this in mind, there will be no more comparisons to the older siblings, new films will be squarely judged on their own merit...or lack of.
Solo: A Star Wars Story as an idea, was never going to be a hard sell, but its execution was definitely going to be a challenge. The personal legend of Han Solo, as created by George Lucas and further boosted by Harrison Ford's actual portrayal, created an iconic character of cinema, one that will last for all time. Any actor set to play the role, would definitely have a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
I first saw actor Alden Ehrenreich in Beautiful Creatures (2013) and even then he had a charisma. And so I am happy to report that Alden is pretty much the perfect casting for the role of Han and manages to give us a glimpse of who Han Solo will become, but also forges his own portrayal to let us know who Han is now. You will not see an actor give a bad performance of trying to be Harrison Ford, playing Han Solo. Alden makes this his own, with the necessary character distinctions that we can see belong to Solo, not Harrison Ford. Other performances in the main cast are wholly competent too, though Thandie Newton is wasted and Woody Harrelson proves he can be anyone, from any time, in any universe. Personally I really liked Chewbacca, but I had mixed feelings about the robot L3, why? Well it's obvious to see, that the production saw the popularity of Rogue One's humorous robot with an attitude (K2S0) and decided to feature another. But this time around it was hit and miss and you could see some of the 'funny' moments being forcibly injected into the proceedings. For the most part it pays off or is at least tolerable.
"Alden is pretty much the perfect casting for the role of Han and manages to give us a glimpse of who Han Solo will become, but also forges his own portrayal to let us know who Han is now."
Technically Disney and Marvel films are starting to suffer from one reoccurring annoyance - darkness! No not darkness in tone, I mean in lighting. For a lot of Solo, the lighting is dim and grey, yes I understand you want to show how dismal and grey the times are, but give me strength! The viewers still have to still see what is going on with some sort of retina comfort. Along side that, this is the first Star Wars film that doesn't really have moments. I mean yes, we see some of the important canon in Han Solo's life; where this incident takes place, how that situation happened is all laid out for us, but none of it overwhelms you or makes you think 'Oh so that's how it went down!' And that is the film in its entirety, it is a straight down the middle, mediocre-done-well of a movie, but it's still mediocre. I think with better lighting, a few more spaceship battles and something else that I can't quite put my finger on, Solo could have been a much better movie.
Solo: A Star Wars Story Is Out Now.
The anticipation for Star Wars movies is always different, depending on the space that they will occupy in the timeline. With the prequels, there was a new hope, that one of the greatest cinematic franchises could be revived and extended. But alas, the films didn't really blow us away, but did add detail to a vague backstory, that was laid out in the original 3. With A Force Awakens promising to bring back all the old characters, a second kindling of a new hope was on the cards. JJ Abrams managed to deliver a film that gave us a little of the Star Wars that we knew, but was also able to add a little bit extra. Most importantly, AFA left room and scope for a follow-up, where an Empire Strikes Back level of sequelism could happen. But did it?
The Last Jedi has finally answered a question for me, that my older sister had the answer to when the prequel trilogy came out. She didn't come right out and say it, but other than her annoyance with too much CGI, what I analysed in her consecutive disappointments, was that the chemistry we saw in the original films, between Luke, Leia, Han Solo, C3-PO, R2-D2 and Chewbacca, no longer existed. In all the films that have followed from 1999 to present day, that same naturalistic interaction between the characters, is not as potent and we have to recognise that this was instrumental to Star Wars' success. But we also have to get over it and understand, that type of golden casting should be looked upon as rare. In saying this, the actors in The Last Jedi do have their own charisma and with the injection of a new type of humour for the Star Wars universe, writer/director Rian Johnson is trying to ground the grand, intergalactic scale and show us the small human nuances, even during the most hazardous of scenarios.
"With some franchises you gotta look at the bigger picture and not think that every moment / scene has to give you an orgasm..."
Where as A Force Awakens felt like a remix of A New Hope, The Last Jedi is the first Star Wars film, that has every other film in it, in terms of style, cinematography and in some cases action scenes. I didn't mind this too much, but Rian has to be very careful how many times he pays homage, or he will come off as a fanboy, recreating his favourite moments from the SW universe. The beginning of the film definitely harks back to The Empire Strikes Back, as the first order is breathing right down the necks of the tatty, falling to pieces rebellion and throughout, the film shares similar themes of sacrifice and surviving on the edge of annihilation. The Jedi storyline is forwarded in a way that has twists and turns and there are even 2 Jedi moments that are firsts for the films.
To conclude, I would say that as a popcorn movie, with thrills throughout, A Force Awakens is probably slightly better. But to make a sequel that wouldn't rehash that film, is the harder task and I would say that there is more than enough to keep die hard fans pleased. One of my friends Whatsapp me as soon as I came out of the cinema, asking me for for my 'Thoughts and feelings?' I replied "This is a complicated question, though the answer falls in the positive. I think people want too much from films. With some franchises you gotta look at the bigger picture and not think that every moment / scene has to give you an orgasm and take you back to the first time you saw Star Wars."
No this isn't the score I'm giving TLJ.
This is the total you get, when you add up all my Star Wars comic books and novels, so I have seen a few stories in my time and can say that this is worthy of the SW universe. My advice for all future viewings; is to put away your love of the originals and like me, stop expecting these new entries to live up to them. These new editions have their own path to forge and legendary status should never be compared to the new kid on the block. Watch And Enjoy.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Is Out Now
It's been around for awhile now, but Paul Johnson's Tie Fighter animation continues to wow. In this short film, we see a space battle ensue between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance, but from the perspective of the Imperial fleet.
Once upon a time, in a galaxy...well here, a fan-made trailer would have been reason to moan and exact ridicule. But as of late, the unofficial pieces of Star Wars mythology, are becoming more fascinating than the official lore. In Hoshino, we encounter a tale about the Jedi and their philosophical relationship towards the lightsaber.
CLICK PIC TO WATCH DART MAUL: APPRENTICE
TDD, RC & IK talk: