The Sunday Magazine: Solo A Star Wars Story

Sometimes a little mystery is a good thing. It might even be a better thing when it comes to prequels in the Star Wars series of movies. As I covered in last week’s column the prequel itself saps any tension about the fate of anyone we’ve seen later in the time line. Solo A Star Wars Story particularly suffers from that. We know Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian all live to come together at the end of “The Empire Strikes Back”. Which means every time they are in danger; well they’re not. Because Solo is at heart a story about a crew of criminals in a galaxy far, far away robbing people that isn’t a fatal flaw. I thought the two heists pulled off in the film were executed well except everyone but Han, Chewie and Lando were cannon fodder. If life would be lost it wasn’t going to be them.

No if there was a fatal flaw it was the movie was made for me and other hardcore fans. One thing I didn’t cover in last week’s prequel column is these movies sometimes labor to answer questions I don’t care about. It was charming when Han Solo introduces himself to Obi-Wan and Luke as the pilot of the Millennium Falcon the only ship which “made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.” It has always been one of those anomalies where the writers got tripped up in their tech speak and substituted a measurement of distance for one of speed. Sure enough, Solo spends a plodding set-up explaining it; leading to something I noted because I am a fan. Mrs. C has seen all the Star Wars movies and enjoys them a lot. I asked her about it after the movie and she never caught it. She is the majority of Star Wars fans not the ones like me, which means the movie wasted time, dialogue, and effects explaining something that passes over the head of almost everyone in the theatre. Even in my theatre on opening night packed with those eager to see Solo there was only scattered laughter when the payoff line comes.

This is where Solo fails. It answers questions about our favorite rogue that only a die-hard fan cares about. Mrs. C did not catch the significance of a single inside joke. I spent the entire drive home explaining different ones because there are a lot of them. So many that Solo is a heist movie with inside jokes stuffed in between.

If there is going to be a continuation of these standalone movies they have to follow the template of Rogue One from two years ago. Characters we have never met fighting the good fight in a corner of the galaxy far away from where the Skywalker clan is doing their thing. There has been talk of future standalones featuring Obi-Wan or Boba Fett after seeing Solo I am not excited by either of those. I am excited to follow someone new as they strike out in a new direction. Like whoever survives next year’s Episode IX. Star Wars need to move forward and let go of mining the past it is not what they do well.

Mark Behnke

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