With the horrible nineties-ness of the Prequel trilogy finally in our rear view mirror Mrs SOTL and I settled in for The Inbetweeners.
No, not those Inbetweeners. These Inbetweeners...
Not part of any of the accepted trilogies of 'The Skywalker Saga', Solo and Rogue One nestle inbetween The Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.
Solo is the Star Wars film that nobody was really asking for and it's also the one whose complete and utter stinkathon at the box office was the reason why Disney suddenly slammed on the brakes for future Star Wars movies. If you're not attuned to the fates of the box office then the sheer scale of Solo's underperformance may have passed you by:
That's right, folks. Despite 35 years of ticket inflation, and huge new emerging global markets for Star Wars like China Solo only grossed about the same as Return of the Jedi did!
And yet, I have to say I found Solo to be pretty fun and a solid entertaining two hours. It's certainly better than I remember it being the first couple of times around, and I actually found myself feeling sad that we'd never see the sequel that was so clearly being set up. It's lightweight stuff, though, and I feel like if you stop to think about any part of the film for very long then you'd rapidly see through it and be able to start picking it all apart.
I often think that modern Star Wars fans can be separated into two distinct types: there's those who want love the Star Wars universe and want to see how that develops and how all the pieces and characters and events fit together, and then there's those who have the simpler motivation of simply wanting to be swept up and entertained by a space adventure for a couple of hours. I think Solo probably serves the second group pretty well but massively lets down the first group.
On this rewatch I found myself drifting more towards the second group of fans than I maybe was when I saw Solo in the cinema, perhaps because my wife was alongside me to give the true casual's response and she thought the movie was a lot of fun. I liked Tobias, I thought Dryden Vos was a suitably threatening crimelord, Alden Ehrenreich maybe wasn't the perfect Han Solo (I'd have cast Adam Driver again fwiw) but he was a watchable lead and Donald Glover was a fantastic Lando.
Virtually everything that happened was dumb or broke some perfectly sensible piece of Star Wars lore for no good reason. But I had fun for my two hours.
Force Rating: 6/10 (and my wife would have scored it higher)
I'm going to share a personal Rogue One anecdote:
I work in the cinema industry and occasionally that lands me a nice exclusive treat or two, so for Rogue One I got into an advanced screening before the official release that had a Q&A with the cast & crew. Somebody in the audience asked a question along the lines of "which member of the cast is the biggest rebel" and I remember Kathleen Kennedy threw a little shade at director Gareth Edwards by saying something along the lines of "well I think Gareth went rogue a few times during the making of this movie so I'd say he's the biggest rebel". I already knew that Rogue One had been waylaid by enormous reshoots as Disney hastily tried to fix the movie's tone. All movies have reshoots but I understood Rogue One had LOTS of reshoots... when I first saw Rogue One in that advanced screening I was braced for a disaster.
|This never happened.|
I was wrong and came out saying 'you know what, that was actually pretty good'... and I think every single rewatch has only further improved and cemented my appreciation for Rogue One. The funny bits are funny, the action scenes are gripping, and some of the characters are really compelling: K2-SO, Baze and Chirrut are great, and I have to confess now that Director Krennic is my favourite Star Wars character by far. I've worked with too many people who are just like him and it brought a really believable face of human ambition to the moustache-twirling evil of the Galactic Empire.
On top of that it's probably the best-looking Star Wars film, and I absolutely adore and appreciate all the effort that went into making the look and feel tie into A New Hope. Not only that, but with Bail Organa's brief appearance it calls back to the prequels and pulls them in too. Repurposing the unused footage from the Battle of Yavin was genius and all the 70's haircuts and facial ornamentation are delicious. Yes, the CGI Tarkin looks a bit waxy but I'm so glad he was there to steal the Death Star from under Krennic's nose. I can take or leave Shoretroopers but Deathtroopers are awesome, as are the designs for the TIE Striker and TIE Reaper... everything was on point.
The only complaint I really have about the whole film is that the two leads, Jyn and Cassian, are perhaps the most bland and vanilla characters in the whole of Star Wars.
Despite the reshoots (which clearly completely restructured the film, based on the fact 80% of the shots and dialogue from the original trailer never made it to the final cut) Disney managed to craft a fantastic movie. I unapologetically love Rogue One and I'm happy to place it in my top three Star Wars films.
Force Rating: 9/10
One more Krennic shot before I wrap it up...
Next Time: The Original Trilogy