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Solo Movie Review

I walked into Solo unsure of how I would feel about it, considering my recent Star Wars movie experience was excruciating.  I was frankly quite devastated at how the preceding The Last Jedi played out, especially in regards to Luke Skywalker’s portrayal. But I never felt the emotional tie to Han Solo, as he was known for his scoundrel swagger, and I’ve never been a fan of the bad boy trope. So I went into Solo with no expectations- I didn’t really care if his character was crucified. The movie proved to be solid. Not great…not bad…just good.

Rather than going into a full review of the movie, which you can find on dozens of other sites, I will address a few issues and then move into nine character studies.

*An issue going into any prequel is that you know the main characters survive in a future timeline. As such when Han, Chewie and Lando were in dangerous situations, I knew it was the new secondary characters that would bite the dust. To throw in a Star Trek joke- you knew who the redshirts were.

*I saw this movie with my husband and daughter, and afterwards we all agreed that the movie felt like a run of the mill sci-fi action movie, with a few Star Wars references thrown in. The movie showcased some new planets and none of them had the Star Wars vibe. I spotted a few Stormtroopers in the beginning plus there were a few ships such as TIE fighters that were iconic, but these new worlds just didn’t feel like what we have seen in the other movies.

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Alden did a fair job of creating a young Han Solo. He had the unenviable job of following in Harrison Ford’s footsteps, but he tried to capture Han’s charm, without being a caricature of the original. I had hoped for more background to his past and there was a brief mention of his father, but no explanation as to how to came to be alone. I liked the explanation of his last name when he was applying to get off planet but then there was a big time jump and we didn’t see him get kicked out of pilot school. At times he came off as cocky vs suave, but as he is a younger man here, the suaveness will come in time.

 

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Joonas Suotamo played Chewbacca- why is his name not on this poster like all the other actor and actresses names are? Is this yet another example of Chewie being treated more as a pet than a humanoid alien? While I appreciated the origin story of how he and Han met, it still didn’t go far enough in explaining why Chewie has given Han such intense loyalty. Now that Star Wars Holiday Special is canon (Disney put one of the characters from the special into the official book From A Certain Point Of View) we know he has a family back on his home planet. Why would he leave them for Han Solo? Loved what he did when he saw other Wookies on one of the missions!

 

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Donald Glover WAS Lando! He ably portrayed this charming gambler with plenty of charisma. Seemingly only out for himself,  he showed enough compassion for viewers to know that he will be able to make the leap from selfish to selfless in future movies.  His banter with Alden was authentic and he wore his capes with aplomb!

 

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I was happy to see Star Wars include a woman of color in a main role! With natural hair! She was tough as nails, but had the classic heart of gold. Can’t say too much more about her with out spoilers, but I wish her role had been larger.

 

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Gotta have a spunky droid, and L3-37 does not disappoint! Voiced by a woman, this robot was a social justice warrior (especially for droid rights) who implied she had a crush on Lando. My question is: why does an unseen actress get billing on a poster when Chewbacca’s does not? L3-37 is very woke and should fight for his name inclusion as one of her many causes!

 

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I’ve been a big fan of Woody Harrelson for years, but I had a hard time seeing past the actor for this role. He has played grizzled world weary characters in too many roles, and Beckett was cut from the same cloth. All the double and triple crosses in the end reinforced my feeling that it wasn’t a Star Wars film but an action heist  movie.

 

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Qi’Ra was Han’s love interest, so right away we knew things would not go well for her. Her fate at the end wasn’t exactly what I expected, and leaves open a possibility of another prequel movie to explain what happens to her and a certain other memorable Star Wars character. She played her femme-fatale role well, and you almost forget that her appealing character would soon enough be cast aside for Princess Leia.

 

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Ugh- a a wise cracking four armed monkey pilot. Enough said.

 

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Paul Bettany did a good job playing slimy villain Dryden. I was able to forget he recently played the superhero The Vision in the Avengers movies. His cultured voice belayed the fact that he was a crime lord that would betray you as soon as you turned your back.

*****

Will I be back if they put out another Han Solo prequel? As of now- I wouldn’t spend the money to see it in the theatre but might once out in DVD. Solo was fine- so in essence I am damning this movie with faint praise. It is Star Wars: Episode IX that I will save my passion for and how they handle the plot lines going forward.

-Nancy

Star Wars: From A Certain Point Of View

I love Star Wars! I love short stories! Together this anthology was a win-win for me.

Forty authors celebrated forty years of Star Wars by contributing a story of a minor or supporting character from the ending of Rogue One to the finale of A New Hope. I listened to these stories on audio, but also had a copy of the book to refer to when I wanted to double check a detail or if I didn’t like the way a story was voiced. There are a few spoilers, but I did my best not to give it all away! 😉

Raymus by Gary Witta   4/5

Captain Raymus Antilles holds onto hope to the very end that his ship carrying Princess Leia away from the Battle of Scarif will escape from the Imperial Fleet.

The Bucket by Chrsitie Golden   4/5

Stormtrooper TK-4601 begins to have feelings of dissent with the Empire after he meets Leia. Not an immediate deserter, but the seeds are sown…

The Sith of Datawork by Ken Liu   5/5

A fun tongue-in cheek story that will be appreciated by the many of us who feel that paperwork is endless at their jobs and in their homes. Arvira, Imperial Logistic Datawork Officer, knows her forms and helps Bolvan, the gunnery captain who let a certain escape pod go unchecked to Tatooine, cover up his mistake with layers of reports.

Stories in the Sand by Griffin McElroy 4/5

Am amusing tale of little Jot, a Jawa who doesn’t erase R2-D2’s memory like he typically does with other droids for resale. By watching other droid’s chips he sees there is more to the universe than the gritty Sandcrawler he works on.

Reirin by Sabaa Tahir  3/5

We meet Reirin, a female Tusken Raider, who is willing to leave the safety of her clan for the mysterious charms of a green crystal she finds.

The Red One by Rae Carson  4/5

A surprisingly poignant story about R5-D4, the red droid that Uncle Own picked first from the Jawas. His malfunction was truly a sacrifice made for the Rebellion.  It was fun to start getting outsider’s views of Luke as we first meet him in A New Hope.

Rites by John Jackson Miller 3.5/5

Three young Tuskens want to make names for themselves in their warrior society. They meet Obi-Wan, whom they consider a wizard, and Luke whom they call Sandy Hair.

Master and Apprentice by Claudia Grey 5/5

Obi-Wan receives a visitor and because of their conversation realizes he needs “to think of death as only the beginning of wisdom”. While I was surprised at this entry, as he formally was not part of A New Hope, the visitor’s wisdom would have always remained with Ben.

Beru Whitesun Lars by Meg Cabot 5/5

LOVED this story! Author Meg Cabot gave Aunt Beru a beautiful backstory and a voice in how she loved raising Luke. I was tearing up as I listened to this story, for Beru was more than an aunt, she was a MOTHER to him and should have been recognized more for being the loving woman who shaped Luke into the man he became.

The Luckless Rodian by Renee Ahdieh  4/5

Greedo…and his last hours before his fateful encounter with Han Solo.

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Not for Nothing by Mur Lafferty 4/5

A supposed excerpt from one of the Bith band member’s memoirs about why they were playing at the cantina, after a forced extended stay at Jabba the Hutt’s “palace” . The music must go on…

We Don’t Serve Their Kind Here by Chuck Wendig 3.5/5

A character study of Wuher, one of the bartenders at the cantina. My biggest take-away from this story is learning that Ackmena, the barmaid from the Star Wars Holiday Special,  is now canon!

The Kloo Horn Cantina Caper by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction 1/5

When are we going to leave Tatooine??!! Why was the worst story also the longest story? I did not care one whit about the crime planned to take place at Chalmun’s Cantina.

Added Muscle by Paul Dini  5/5

Luckily the next story balances the previous story by being short and fresh. We learn Boba Fett’s recollections of what happened between Han and Jabba in Docking Bay 94.

You Owe Me a Ride by Zoraida Cordova  4/5

Twins Brea and Senni Tonnika live on the edge of society, unwillingly trapped at Jabba’s palace. The sisters begin to scheme how they can leave the sandy planet forever.

The Secrets of Long Snoot by Delilah S. Dawson  2/5

Are we STILL stuck on  Tatooine??!!  Not every bounty hunter is successful and suave, and Long Snoot skulks along the fringes hoping to pick up easy information he can then pass along to the Imperial Troopers hoping for enough credits to reunite with his family.

Born in the Storm by Daniel Jose Older  4.5/5

Stormtrooper TD-7556 relates his recent mission on Tatooine in an incident report form. Turns out he was one of the soldiers who sent Obi Wan, Luke and the droids on their way- “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for”.   This stormtrooper is no mindless drone, he is funny and sarcastic and the story was a fun read.

Laina by Wil Wheaton  5/5

OMG the feels! A widowed Rebel soldier wishes to send his beloved daughter Laina to safety and makes a video for the toddler. He recounts to her information about her mother and the reason why he is fighting against the Empire. Already a poignant tale of a family being separated, it takes an even more heartrending turn at the end. ( I have re-imaged the last bit in my mind to make a happier ending)

Fully Operational by Beth Revis  3.5/5

General Tagge uncomfortably witnesses Lord Vader’s reaction and choke hold of Admiral Motti. Previously believing the Empire’s greatest weapon was the Death Star, he now realizes it is Vader himself.

An Incident Report by Mallory Ortberg   3.5/5

Admiral Motti gets his rebuttal and blusters about his importance to cover up his shame of being humiliated in front of other staff. He refuses to see Vader’s power and relies entirely on the Death Star’s technology.

Change of Heart by Elizabeth Wein  3.5/5

The indomitable Leia unknowingly influences another Imperial soldier to rethink his alliance after he witnesses her strength when Alderaan is destroyed. Having two stories like this was over kill. I have huge Leia love, but to have two soldiers completely change their ways just by observing her was too much.

Eclipse by Madeleine Roux  4.5/5

A heartbreaking look at the last hours of Breha and Bail Organa. Despite them realizing their planet’s impending doom, they cling together in love and with hope in their hearts that their daughter is safe.  On a side note- I had a hard time imagining Leia growing up there. Things at the palace were so ornate and orchestrated, instead I thought of Padme.

Verge of Greatness by Pablo Hidalgo  4/5

Evil Empire leaders are taught not to trust anyone else and to only look out for themselves- but if Tarkin and Krennic had been able to work effectively as a team, perhaps then they could have been more powerful than Vader.  I appreciated the shoutout to Galen and Jyn Erso at the end.

Far Too Remote by Jeffrey Brown 4/5

Surprising and funny one panel cartoon from the author/artist who writes children’s books Vader’s Little Princess and Vader and Son.  See book for dialogue! 😉

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The Trigger by Kieron Gillen  3/5

Aphra is a dubious archaeologist who skirts the law on Dantooine. Captured by stormtroopers she talks her way out of trouble. She was an unfamiliar character to me, but her fleshed out backstory hinted that she plays more of a role in Star Wars canon, so I wasn’t surprised to realize she can be found in many Star Wars graphic novels. .

Of MSE-6 and Men by Glen Weldon 1/5

Why again are the worst stories the longest stories? Told from the perspective of a mouse droid found on the Death Star.

Bump by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker  3/5

One of the stormtroopers from the Tatooine unit that let the droids by, due to Obi Wan’s mind tricks, is called up to report once that data has been reviewed. He knows he’s in for it, but remains true to the Empire until the end.

End of Watch by Adam Christopher   4/5

Commander Pamel Poul is at the end of her shift on the Death Star and just wants to be off duty. But there seems to be a small problem in one of the detention blocks, and an odd message from an alleged soldier there doesn’t seem to follow protocol…

The Baptist by Nnedi Okorafor   5/5

When a creature is taken from their home planet and taken to the Death Star, I wondered where in the world the story was going. Then I realized it was the garbage disposal monster and I was intrigued. I found this story strangely appealing!

Time of Death by Cavan Scott   3/5

This story had me torn. While in one way I liked having more time with Obi Wan, his after life is a delicate subject matter to tackle. There was one little remembrance that I enjoyed- a missing piece of his lost years at Tatooine when he interacts with a young Luke and his Uncle Owen.

There Is Another by Gary D. Schmidt 3.5/5

This pushed canon a bit too far. While I have always wondered why Leia never trained to use the Force, this story has a certain green somebody quite opposed to training Luke, claiming that Leia would be more suitable. Maybe so, to a degree (see picture below), but he missed Palpatine being a Sith Lord, so maybe just maybe he could be wrong about Luke. (And he was.)

Image result for star wars meme 19 years old anakin leia luke

Palpatine by Ian Doescher 4.5/5

An interesting soliloquy from Palpatine’s perspective that I first listened to and then read to get the full power of his thoughts as it was written in poem form.

Sparks by Paul S. Kemp  4.5/5

Told from the perspective of Dex, a Rebel fighter pilot, during the battle of Yavin 4. This was an action packed story that had an expected sad ending for Gold Two.

Duty Roster by Jason Fry   4/5

Not every Rebel pilot gets to fly when there are not enough ships and Col, aka Fake Wedge (to his chagrin), is not chosen. He is furious at not being picked when newbie Luke Skywalker is selected, but as most of the pilots die, he survives for future missions.

Desert Son by Pierce Brown  4/5

Oh, Biggs Darklighter, we barely knew you…and you seemed so appealing! If only you and Luke had been able to reunite but your heroics helped ensure Luke’s victory.

Grounded by Greg Rucka  4.5/5

Chief Nera Kase, an integral part of the Rebels for her mechanical knowledge, watches as the pilots and ships she cares for head into battle. Not every body can be the flashy hero, but her behind the scenes work is an heroic as any pilot or leader’s contribution. I always root for the solid characters, who often don’t get their due because they are quiet and unassuming.

Contingency Plan by Alexander Freed  4/5

All good leaders should have contingency plans, for even the best laid plans can go sideways in a moment.  Mon Mothma is no exception, and the Rebel victory gives her renewed vigor for the cause.

The Angle by Charles Soule  4.5/5

With the new Solo movie coming out, I couldn’t help but think of our favorite caped scoundrel as being a mix of Donald Glover and Billie Dee Williams. The audio version had this guy voiced perfectly, as he wonders why in the world his fellow rogue Han would risk his life.

By Whatever Sun by E.K. Johnston and Ashley Eckstein  3.5/5

Captain Miara Larte and her crew witnesses the medal ceremony for Luke, Han and Chewbacca. While perhaps it can be argued it was a premature celebration, she feels that the joyful occasion is needed in a time of sorrow. This character was another one I was unfamiliar with, as she is from the Ahsoka book that I have not read yet.

Whills by Tom Angleberger  5/5

Awesome ending! I adored the two Whills scholars debating how to chronicle the Star Wars saga. They debate both where to start the story (Episode IV!) and the wording that we have grown to love.

This book is a must read for all Star Wars fans! It strengthened and filled in gaps in the narrative and this new canon was a treat from beginning to end.

-Nancy

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Star Wars Holiday Special

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This picture is misleading, it was never, and will never, be officially released on DVD!

I can understand why this special has not seen the light of day since it’s poorly received 1978 debut. I’m dating myself when I say I vaguely remember this on tv when I was very young. It confused and upset me and I didn’t finish watching it. Years later I wondered why I knew Chewbacca had a family, but I assumed I read it in a Star Wars book.

Back in November, I saw someone post a link about “Life Day” on Twitter. Busy with grad school and the holidays, I did not have time to watch the video until now.  As I wasted 1:36 of my time so you don’t have to, I will regale you with my thoughts as I (re)watched this monstrosity. To make it more fun, I have added a drinking option. Take a shot anytime that: that the actor Harvey Korman shows up and the term friend is used!

Here we go:

:00 Han Solo and Chewbacca are flying the Millennium Falcon! Cool!  Life Day is mentioned, and obviously it’s a BIG deal.

:01 Star Wars word crawl

:02 The actors and actresses are introduced. The Wookies look scary. The special guest stars are an interesting lot.

:03 We see Chewie’s home planet of Kashyyyk, shown as a tree house painting, no special effects here my friend.  We go inside, and it’s a 70’s era home decorator’s dream!

:04 We are introduced to Malla (wife), Itchy (grandpa) and Lumpy (son). Lumpy is an annoying brat, no wonder Chewie is never home.

:07 Lumpy watches a hologram of alien circus acrobats to get out of his mother’s way. What is going on here???

:11 The adults turn on a traffic control channel to see if the MF ship is nearby. All the wording is in English. I guess that must be the space universal language.

:12 Malla contacts Luke Skywalker (♥) to see if he knows where they are. Why is Luke wearing makeup? After feigning a little bit of concern, he goes back to work making repairs with R2D2.

:15 Now we go to a scene at a trading post, where we meet Saun Dann, who runs the place. He tries selling cheap crap to an Imperial Guard with a porn ‘stashe. He relays a coded message to Malla. So sly this guy.

:18 Darth Vader! By now I’ve seen the quality of the sets for this production, so I’m guessing this was unused footage from the movie, A New Hope.

:19 We head back at the Wookie home, where Malla watches a cooking show. OMG- what horror is this? Harvey Korman (*drink!) is a cross dressing alien with four hands. While this might have been comedy gold on a variety show, this is Star Wars! Stir, whip, stir, whip, whip, whip, stir!

:24 Han Solo and Chewie are fighting TIE fighters. “This is one Life Day you won’t forget!”

:25 The trader is now at the Wookie house with gifts. He gets kisses from Lumpy and Malla.

:28 Grandpa watches his porn gift in front of his family. Yes, really.

:29 Itchy gets off watching a video of gorgeous Diahann Carroll (what, Wookie females aren’t good enough for him?) sing to him, and say things like “I’m your fantasy, I’m your experience, your pleasure. It’s our moment in time”. Disturbing…

:35 Princess Leia! She also seems rather unconcerned about HS & Chewie, and doesn’t deign to talk to Malla, instead wanting to talk to the trader.

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*I must take this time to give a shout out to Carrie Fisher. When I heard of her death, I cried. Now I am not the type to cry over a celebrity’s death, but this was different. She was Princess Leia, who taught me and countless other girls that princess’s do not have to sit back and wait for a male to rescue them. She was bad-ass and REAL, in the movies and in her own life. She will be missed.*

:38 Storm Troopers arrive at the door and Saun Dann tries to distract them. One of the guards barks “Will you get on with it!’ Exactly- when will this all be over?

:43 We are forced to watch yet another video-this time of the music group Jefferson Starship slumming as they sing “Light the Sky on Fire” (Grace Slick had wisely departed the group prior to this) along with strobe lights and glowing pink microphones.

:49 Scary close up of Lumpy’s face leads us into the “best” part of this show, the cartoon adventures of the Star Wars gang. We meet Boba Fett for the first time, and he fools Luke into thinking he is a friend (*drink!). The animation is crude, and the plot is laughable, but it is still the highlight of the special.

1:03 Lumpy watches another video on how to assemble a transmitter. Harvey Korman pops up again (*drink!) to portray a malfunctioning droid. Lumpy doesn’t need instructions, he’s Chewie’s son, he should have epic fix-it skills!

1:07 Yet another video to watch- this time the Storm Troopers watch too. The video takes place on Tatooine in the Mos Eisley Cantina. Harvey Korman (*drink!) shows up yet again as a lovesick alien who moons over the bar owner, Bea Arthur.

1:15 Bea sings a song about friends (*prepare to drink ALOT) as she and the aliens dance around the bar. By now, you should be very drunk, so the rest of this special should be easy watching.

1:21 Most of Storm Troopers leave, just in time for…

1:22 Chewie’s back!

1:23 Han Solo helps push the remaining Storm Trooper to his death.

1:25 Hugs for everyone! Sweet, slightly creepy, reunion with wife.

1:26 The trader is back, to explain (lie) to Imperial Guard why Storm Trooper is gone. Obviously he feels that Wookies don’t know how to do anything, so he communicates with other humans on their behalf.

1:28 All the Wookies pick up glowing snow globes. It’s time for Life Day!  Now they are all wearing long red robes and walking in a line through space.

1:30 Many Wookies are in a large room with a stage, when the whole Star Wars gang shows up to celebrate with them!

1:31 Leia is singing!!! Han Solo and Luke are turned on by her voice.

1:33 Chewie remembers his time with them, and he has flashbacks to the movie.

1:35 Back at home, Chewbacca and his family sit around the dinner table (maybe eating the Bantha Surprise from the cooking segment?) and pray before they eat. My prayer has been answered- the show is over.

1:36 I am done with this atrocity!!!!! Credits roll.

All I can say is, wow. I have no idea how this was approved by George Lucas. I heard he wanted all copies burned, but with the internet, this special will live on forever.  Just in case you want to watch this show for yourself, I have included a link. But don’t watch it. Seriously, don’t.

-Nancy

 

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Look how unhappy they all look to be in this special!

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