Hello, Falcoholic filmgoers one and all!
It’s time for another trip to the movies with your resident film aficionado Cory Woodroof (who is me). This week, we’re off to that galaxy far, far away with everyone’s favorite space pirate, Han Solo, and his standalone film, Solo: A Star Wars Story.
The trouble with Star Wars is that you’ll never be able to make everyone happy.
Such is life, and such is film, but nowhere does that arrow smack the bullseye than with George Lucas’ monolith space opera series. Trying to recreate the magic of the original trilogy, part stroke of atmospheric and casting genius, part due to the grand story, part big heap of luck, part happy accident, is like trying to put back together a sandcastle your mean big brother kicked apart while you were at the beach, sand grain by sand grain.
It’s pretty hard to do!
Each director involved with the series so far has tried to recreate some slice of something. J.J. Abrams brought back most of the original cast for The Force Awakens. Gareth Edwards brought in the “war” part of Star Wars with Rogue One. Rian Johnson tried to be exciting and do something original and subversive with The Last Jedi (a.k.a. the Empire formula done right). And, now, Ron Howard wants you to feel like it’s 1977, and you’re a 12-year-old again, back with your pal Han Solo, aboard the Millennium Falcon, soaring about the stars with Chewbacca and Lando. It’s nostalgia on a Kessel Run, and it’s thoroughly pleasing, if nothing particularly new.
The film abides by the past, comfortable in its familiarity and ability to mount rousing good times. After a film like The Last Jedi dared Star Wars to evolve, Solo wants the audience to remember why they love the series in the place, at least when it comes to everything but the main character. Now, that guy, they do want you to slightly see through new eyes. Your space mileage might vary.
Here, Solo is a scrappy little guy, a pirate with a purpose to save his lady, entrenched with a gang of thieves who are working to pull a job for a mysterious Paul Bettany. when, well, the job doesn’t go so hot. So, instead, they have to pull off another, ahem, run, and repay mysterious Paul Bettany before mysterious Paul Bettany kills them. That’s basically the plot, and you have no idea how refreshing it is for there to not be twelve-hundred irons in the fire for one of these big summer movies. They don’t have to be dumb, not by a long shot, but some summer fun is best served simply.
Howard’s always been a pretty solid director, and here, he directs solidly. The film lacks that madcap innovation Johnson (and, by extent, Edwards) brought to the Saga, but then again, some filmgoers are comfortable in what Star Wars has been, not what it can be, and that’s more than fine. Star Wars should cater to everyone, while still trying to reach artistic goals. If one film does one, and another, another, then, call it a saga well spent. Alas, you can’t please everybody, so who knows if Solo will be exactly what you want it to be. It’s unquestionably Star Wars, though, and that has to count for something.
Poor Solo isn’t doing so hot right now at the box office, so perhaps make a trip out to the movies to pay him a visit. It’s quite good, if an exercise in comfort, and worth its weight in space credits (or whatever currency the Star Wars universe uses).
Have you taken your trip on the Falcon yet? Hey, get it, Falcon, Falcons? Wakka wakka! If so, let’s talk Solo in the comments.