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– by Nick Doll

Welcome to Breaking Geek, a weekly column where uber-geek Nick Doll offers commentary and reactions to the most interesting news of the week, using his expansive knowledge of all things geek!

With all the excitement forming around Marvel Studios’ upcoming guaranteed hit, attention has almost been intentionally drawn away from Lucasfilm’s biggest question mark, by the parent company for both studios, Disney.

Nevertheless, this week Disney finally dropped what we can assume is the final trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story, Disney’s fourth foray into the Star Wars universe and the second “Star Wars Story” or non-trilogy/saga film.

There has been a lot of hate placed on Solo from the beginning, due to the very nature of the project, and it hasn’t been helped by director drama, super reshoots, bad news from set, Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s reception, and divisive trailers.

Now that we have seen all the trailers Disney is likely to unveil for the film — though surely there will be clips and TV spots aplenty — I want to look at what I am most excited to see in Solo: A Star Wars Story, along with what I am most concerned about. In no particular order.

Punch it, Chewie!

The Narrative

In a way, a young Han Solo movie is both the Star Wars movie I would most want to see and least want to see. On one hand, there is a lot of potential in the story and character for a movie right up my alley on nearly every level. On the other hand, with such a beloved character comes a higher chance of disappointment due to enormous expectations.

Excited: Western /Heist Genre, Solo’s Story

I’ve always imagined a solo, ahem, Han Solo movie to be like Indiana Jones in a more sci-fi environment. A true action-adventure in ways even Star Wars has not covered action-adventure, featuring a swashbuckling hero with questionable tactics; a scoundrel with a heart of gold. Even though his nickname of “space pirate” suggests otherwise, Indiana Jones was always the noble pirate and Han Solo the scruffy-looking cowboy. A gunslinger roaming the galaxy to make his fortune, then move on. A true John Wayne-type.

So, it makes sense to that the trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story carries action-adventure beats and shots right out of a western, from Solo reaching for his blaster on the beach to a great (flying) train robbery! Solo seems to be hitting my sweet spot as far as what I want to see in a literal Star Wars story.

Concerned: Showing Us Too Many Key Moments?

This is always the problems with prequels. You can make a good prequel, but you must balance what beats you show the audience vs what beats you keep mysterious and therefore nearly legendary. Unfortunately, I expect Ron Howard and modern-day Lucasfilm to throw every explanation possible at us to hopefully hit our nostalgia spot so hard we forget they are recycling material and ruining our fond memories of events we’ve heard about decades ago, but never saw until 2018.

I know we’re getting the Kessel Run, I expected and dreaded that from the start. I’m sure we’ll see the origin of Chewie’s life debt, and ultimately the game of Sabacc that wins Solo the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian. Fine, I accept these beats (likely in reverse order of how I listed them). It is possible for the studio to make something cooler than what you imagined from decades, it’s just really, really hard. And it can’t be done by revealing the Clone Wars was literally Clones fighting Droids, for example.

But getting into even smaller details worries me. While learning where Indiana Jones got his scar, whip, and fear of snakes in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was fun, it is also ultimately disappointing to be so truncated like that. We’ve seen in the latest Solo trailer where he got his blaster, do we really need to see where he got the scar and jacket?

Atmosphere/Look

Star Wars films always have to balance the new with the old. Too familiar, fans hate it. Too new, fans hate it. So, really they only need to nail my balance, as I may love it and you may hate it. Fanboys, am I right?

Excited: Unique Music & Atmosphere

Look, Star Wars always looks like Star Wars, but there is always a level of familiarity vs what’s new, ya’ dig? This Solo film seems to have the most unique look a Star Wars film has had in the era of Disney. Neither as bright and shiny as The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi, yet not as close to matching the original trilogy as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

The result is startlingly original… for a Star Wars film. Though we see a lot of the familiar sites, you know what we don’t see? Jedi, Jedi imagery, lightsabers, or even the damn Kyber Crystals that make lightsabers run. Is it possible we are getting our first truly-Jedi free Star Wars film (Rogue One came close…)? Solo can’t meet Vader, he doesn’t believe in Jedi, so hopefully so!

I wouldn’t be surprised if a character is revealed to be force sensitive, but it would kill if it is even implied it is Solo, Lando, or Chewie. Leave their midi-chlorian count out of this!

The best way to describe the overall look is that Solo almost has the literal atmosphere, sort of depth with fogginess in the sky, as Blade Runner 2049. Does it look as good as Blade Runner? No, but this is Star Wars with a semi-unique way of showing us visuals for the soon to be 10 film franchise.

Concerned: Is It A Trap?

Is this new atmosphere a lie? Are the Jedi just being hidden? Is this just same ole’ Star Wars without a twist?

Look, we see a lot of the familiar here, ideas even that Disney seems to have made rules even after George Lucas left the franchise.

New Stormtroopers!

In this film, we will not be getting one, but two new versions of the stormtrooper! And, fine, the ones on the sci-fi train look pretty neat. Yes, Lucas did establish the one new stormtrooper a movie rule with the sacred original trilogy, but Disney has taken this to an extreme, especially in these Star Wars stories set between films we’ve seen.

Rogue One had the elite Deathtroopers and the Scarif Stormtroopers that worked on the beaches of, where else, Scarif. Solo has two new varieties as well, each on a different planet. The longer these Star Wars continue, the more I get a feeling the Emperor was obsessed with designing a stormtrooper for every planet, moon, or space station, for both the inner and outer rim! The Emperor was all about power… and fashion.

Another Sassy Robot!

Before Lowbot, Lando wasn’t kicking around the galaxy on the Millenium Falcon alone! No, just like the pilot in Rogue One, he had a sassy talking robot that made C-3PO look like a bitch!

Even Lucas didn’t find it necessary to add a new droid main character every trilogy. He stuck with R2-D2 and the bitch in the prequels. Disney’s been adding all these adorable or terrifying robots!

The Empire

We may not be getting the Jedi, but we do see Star Destroyers and Tie Fighters. Yet, I feel this has been a positive in the trailers so far, as we don’t see a whole lot of them. Again, this does feel like a fresher corner of the galaxy based on the trailers, we’ll just need to wait for the film’s release to be sure.

Cast

Is there anything harder than recasting iconic characters? Do you go for the actor doing an impersonation, or the one who best embodies the spirit? Are we playing it safe, or redefining the character? The cast may be the riskiest of all the tight-ropes Solo: A Star Wars Story was to walk!

Excited:  Lando Calrissian

Donald Glover is going to crush it as Lando. We all know that. Donald Glover is legend, just as Billy Dee Williams is. No one else could make that cape look good, except those two.

The rest the cast seems solid. Whoever is playing Chewie sounds and walks like Chewie. Thandie Newman is always a treat, especially after the first season of Westworld. Woody Harrelson is always a great time, even if it feels like we’ve seen him a lot lately. Paul Bettany and Jon Favreau join Glover as Marvel alum.

And, yes, Warwick Davis is in it because it is a Star Wars movie.

And, yes, Clint Howard is in it, because its a Ron Howard movie (and the dude looks more and more like an alien the older he gets…).

Concerned: Can Alden Ehrenreich Pull Off Solo? 

It doesn’t really matter if we have the best possible actor aside from Billy Dee Williams himself playing Lando, this is still always going to come down to how well Alden Ehrenreich plays Solo. This isn’t Lando: A Star Wars Story, as much as I would hope (now is not the time for Lando, that comes later!).

I’m neither impressed nor disappointed with what we’ve seen in the trailers. He is not the ultimate young Han Solo. He is not the worst Han Solo. Really, I think as long as Ehrenreich keeps his performance from becoming too distracting, the movie will work. If the actor takes it too far one direction or the other and I begin to notice the performance on a scene-to-scene basis, that’s bad.

Finally, remember when Star Wars was not overstuffed with white, brunette, British women? Yes, it’s great there are more women in Star Wars. But, why does it feel like they are all related? I mean, how are Emilia Clarke’s Qi’Ra, Rey, and Jyn Erso not of the same family? Are they the new Skywalkers? No, but Han Solo (and Lucasfilm) definitely have a type.

I mean, Emilia Clarke will be great. I just wanted us to all be clear, I know Disney. I see you.

Tone

One of the reasons the initial two directors of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Chris Miller and Phil Lord, were fired was that the tone of the movie did not match the script written by the legendary Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan. They were making Star Wars simply too funny. And the film has been called, by many sources, “funny.” With the original directors’ imprint irrevocably left on the final film, with Solo‘s tone be its biggest asset or downfall?

Excited: Funniest Star Wars Film

Lawrence Kasdan’s scripts are among the greatest of all time including Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Empire Strikes Back. Sure, these films are classic action films to this day, but Raiders and Empire pack in just as much humor to action as the modern day Marvel film, I would argue. Raiders and Empire are hilarious films, but this never distracts from tense or emotional moments.

Besides, Solo is the funniest character in all of Star Wars. Ford’s humor literally saves the original film from being a messy sci-fi film with sets that haven’t aged well and clunky dialogue. Even when Star Wars: A New Hope is at its worst, Harrison Ford as Han Solo could always save it with a sly grin or a cocky remark.

Concerned: Funniest Star Wars Film

I’m surprised that Chris Miller and Phil Lord were ever hired to work on Solo: A Star Wars Story, honestly. Sure, directors can alter their tone depending on the project, but we’re talking about the guys behind 21 Jump St and The Lego Movie. If this type of humor is left in the film, it won’t be right for the franchise and spoil the whole batch.


Now, I want to hear from YOU! Agree with my opinions? Think I’m wrong about everything? Let me know! Let’s get some fun discussions and arguments going in the comment section below.

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