This past weekend I saw Solo: A Star Wars Story.
It was a very historic film in my opinion for several reasons. Below is a list of why I think that.
1) FANDOM SERIVICE: Never has their been a Star Wars film so ripe with fan service. The film was not very well constructed in terms of script so it felt like the fan service hand jobs really tied it together. From trying to be cute with the origins of his name and his pistol to the Kessel run to the guest appearance by a long thought dead villain to those not familiar with the animated series--DARTH MAUL.
2) TRANSMEDIA TIMELINES/CANNON: If you don't watch The Clone Wars or Rebels, then you wouldn't have known that Darth Maul is indeed alive and survived the Phantom Menace. This is an example of Transmedia storytelling and an example of its pitfalls. Transmedia is all about connecting a narrative across multiple platforms, however if one doesn't consume all platforms of content than the narrative could unravel or not make sense. When the Transmedia is so tied in it can do more harm than good. This is an example. BUT if you saw the Clone Wars and Rebels like I did then this is a great example of it. As someone who has pushed Transmedia for years I love this part of it.
3) COSPLAY IN REAL TIME: It felt like two hours of cosplay. Someone trying to look and act like Han and Lando. Where they bad? No, not necessarily, based on the woeful script they were working off of. We are now entering a realm of filmmaking that feels like cosplay.
4) THE BAR HAS BEEN LOWERED: Star Wars has always been a bit campy and goofy. For example, why in the hell would Han Solo tell a trooper, "Then I'll see you in hell, " in the Empire Strikes Back? If they were in a Galaxy far, far away a long time ago, then hell doesn't seem like it has a place there does it? But that goofiness has always been absorbed well. Not here. Hell was referenced again and it seemed even more out of place. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Solo wasn't a dreadfully awful film nor was it good it was just MEH. It seemed like the writing was lazy, the plot devices were more of a ball and chain of fandom/facts from Han's past and the stakes weren't high because you knew that everyone lives. It almost seemed as if this film was a litmus test by the studios to see how crappy a film could be and how much people would consume it. The bar has been lowered a lot here. Right down below Attack of the Clones. This film is easily the worst Star Wars film. Which brings me to...
5) THE FANDOM APOLOGIES: Never have I seen such a widespread fandom apology for a film than this one. To me Star Wars has always had a certain level of quality that I expect from the franchise. This one missed the mark big time. BUT never before have I heard such excuses for such a terribly written film. "Oh but Star Wars isn't made for you, it's made for kids." Oh yeah, well so was ET, Back to the Future and every other Star Wars movie before it---but it's also made for adults. It's a family franchise. If you don't think so then remember who has the money to buy all that merchandise. From toys to Twinkies to Yoda oranges--adults have the cash. If we don't like something we're not buying it for the kids. Stop kidding yourself fanboys. If ever there was a film made for adults specifically it was this one. That's why there was 40 years of hand jobs in it for you.
6) DUMMING IT DOWN: To me this script was the most atrocious one in Star Wars history. It was literally just a collection of old content and snippets of Han's past that were better left to the imagination. From his beginnings as Oliver Twist to his strange Ellis Island like immigration naming, to the Dunkirk like trenches to the Kessel Run and the lame way in which he won the falcon. It was just a bad script handcuffed by the past. It was a dumbed down version of Star Wars. The first ever. Made specifically to just tell a story you didn't need to see. It was pointless. It was forced fandom in a cheap way.
7) PREQUEL CHARACTER STORIES DON'T WORK: Rogue One was great because you didn't have main characters with historic baggage like this film. When there is too much baggage it's hard to write a script. This story about Solo was one in which we didn't need. You don't need to know his backstory because he's dead in the current timeline, he served his purpose and he is done in the larger frame of the story. Leave this to books and comics. This movie just seemed pointless as of now. News of a Boba Fett story and an Obi Wan story as movies are circulating the newsfeeds but I ask you all...why? Why do we need a Boba Fett film? Why do we need an Obi Wan film? We don't. Let's move on. Let's focus on the new, the now. If Star Wars is truly for the kids like you say Fanboys, then why keep rehashing the characters we loved as kids and not move on? Unless this is just a play to sell more toys and hook kids on the same characters so us old dudes buy the $400 Han Statue or the $300 dollar Millennium Falcon.
8) NOTHING LEFT TO THE IMAGINATION: Why are the best characters in films so cool? Because you get to imagine all the things that make them cool. Did we need to see the Kessel run? Do we need to know how Han got his name or his blaster or about his first love? NO! Does it make him any cooler that we now know it? NO! Does it make him less cool? In the case of his name I would say a definite yes. Some things are better left to your mind.
CONCLUSION: The Star Wars franchise just made a big leap into the way they tell stories and make movies. The disappointing box office numbers don't lie. They are seeing that fans aren't as enthralled by a whole film about the backstory of a beloved, but dead character whose mysterious past hardened him into the scoundrel we loved. We loved Han without knowing the full backstory of his life. This film made some decisions that I think cheapen the characters and more importantly, the stakes aren't high enough because you know the main characters live. It was a prisoner to its own history unlike Rogue One who embraced it with the highest stakes of all. If it ain't broke don't fix it. This is a turning point for this franchise to either decide if they are just going to mass produce mediocre films to peddle merch or make great ones. Either way if the fans keep buying it, they'll keep making it.
May the farce be with you.
SOLO - A THEY LIVE STORY OF BLIND CONSUMERISM: Here's a new piece of art inspired by John Carpenter's THEY LIVE and George Lucas' Star Wars.