Movie Rewatch Review – Solo (A Star Wars Story)

Han shot first.
He’s got a really good feeling about this.

I don’t know why so many Star Wars fans have a problem with Solo. All I can think of is that it was released too close to The Last Jedi, which really incited the fan base. Otherwise, [pullquote]I can’t imagine why this excellent film was panned. I loved it, and I’m not sure yet where I’d rank Solo, but in the top four or five of the Star Wars films, at least.[/pullquote] (Okay, I added my ranking on the link above. Feel free to disagree and tell me why I’m wrong, in the comments below.)

I recently re-watched Solo on the seat back of my cross country Delta flight, and I was delighted. It’s definitely better the second (or third, or fourth) time around, and what’s nice about the seat-back thing is that I could pause it and rewatch the little random and funny moments to my heart’s content. I paused it a lot: watching joyful references to previous Star Wars movies, and I laughed out loud several times (probably annoying my seatmates).

What was so great about Solo? It was a rousing adventure with several great villains, lovely set pieces, and a likable cast. We’re introduced to a young, wet-behind-the-ears Han, who’s still idealistic and dreams big. [pullquote position=”right”]Over the course of the film we start to see his trademark cynicism kick in, culminating with Han¬†definitively shooting first. But he’s so sweet and baby-faced here, and so willing to be a hero. [/pullquote]It’s a nice contrast, and I can see why he both felt frustrated by and protective of the young Luke Skywalker — it reminded him of himself, back in the day.

The new Han actor is a special find, and I’m thrilled with his performance. Harrison Ford gushed over him (and Ford is a normally taciturn man), and told him — when Alden Ehrenreich¬†was cast — to make Han his own. I think Ehrenreich walked a good line between an homage to “old Han” and a gentler, fresher version. It worked for me. Plus, he had great chemistry with the new Chewie, and most of the laughs came from their early friendship (the rest of the laughs came from Lando, but I’ll get to that in a moment). The scene where Han and Chewie shower together, especially, is really cute. (Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.) Chewbacca has always been a grounding force for Han, operating as a sort of conscience for the experienced smuggler he becomes.

The ensemble sparkled, unlike the problems inherent in the characters of Rogue One (come on, admit it). Q’ira is a complex love interest, and adorable to boot. Her story arc is sensible, sad, and intriguing. Woody Harrelson’s Becket made for a great conflicted mentor, kind of like a less reliable version of his Hunger Games Heymitch character, if that’s even possible. [pullquote]Paul Bettany’s villain is outstanding, period — he’s amusing, personable, complicated, and very, very frightening.[/pullquote]

Which brings me to Donald Glover’s Lando. Dear God, the perfection. He effortlessly stole every scene he was in. I[pullquote position=”right”] could view an entire movie of Lando playing Sabaac, or trying on just capes, and be entertained. [/pullquote]Can our next Star Wars Story feature him? Please?

Lastly, the Millennium Falcon was a big character in Solo. She’s always been a fast ship — when she worked — but that’s because of Han’s special modifications over the years. Here we see the Falcon as a brand-new, squeaky clean ship, with all the bells and whistles and wet bars and cape closets. It’s amazing to be presented with a white-walled interior after all the grungy years.

The ensemble absolutely clicked, and I’m left wondering, again, why people didn’t like this movie. Maybe it was the coaxial heist plot, which wasn’t all that exciting. Coaxium, hyperfuel, whatever: it’s just a MacGuffin to hang the narrative on. [pullquote]Solo is a small-stakes story, which is just fine after so many retread Death Star plots. It doesn’t always have to be about saving the universe to be a great movie.[/pullquote]

Lastly, I wanted to make a note about the muchly-heralded escape from the Maw in 12 parsecs (nice correlation to the old Extended Universe novels, BTW). It’s not the most exciting element of the film, and doesn’t feature Han doing anything particularly skilled. As RunPee Dan said in his review, “It’s a group effort.” I have no issues with that, since Han said “It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs.” The ship. Not that he’s the big bad pilot that did it. His off hand comment allows for what actually happened, instead of being a misleading boast. Han has many flaws, but he’s never one to mislead others.

It also puts to bed the problem with parsecs being a measurement of space and not time. It worked for me, mostly…but [pullquote position=”right”]I won’t lie and say the Kessel Run sequence doesn’t make for a great Peetime. [/pullquote]The Maw’s effects weren’t up to the standards of Star Wars, and the space dwelling monster was just plain atrocious. I prefer the asteroid-based space slug from Empire, if we have to have an impossible creature feature. ūüėČ

While there were a lot of super fun nods to the original trilogy, I have to say my favorite was Han saying, “I have a good feeling about this.” I found it cute, and it made me smile. I think I need to make a list of every character in the rest of the series intoning, “I have a bad feeling about this.” (UPDATE: I DID IT HERE.) Which, yeah, bad things happened indeed, but it was a pleasure to see a Star Wars film where people were kind of having fun, for once.

Movie Review – Solo: A Star Wars Story

I have a bad feeling about this…

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Tour the Millennium Falcon with Lando Calrissian

I’m really chuffed to show off this little video, a real treat — a tour of the brand new Millennium Falcon from Solo: A Star Wars Story, with that¬†other¬†double-crossing, no-good swindler of a space rogue, Lando Calrissian. Donald Glover (the new Lando, smarmily stealing Solo’s film) is in all his elated glory here. His custom-designed Falcon is in dapper shape, something we never got to see elsewhere (typical lines: “What a hunk of junk,” “You came here in THAT thing? You’re braver than I thought,” and “That’s garbage!(….)The garbage will do”).

Glover proudly introduces a fully stocked wet bar, gleaming gaming table, bouncy bed, extensive cape closet, and all the bells and whistles of his surprisingly white, clean, and shiny party-barge. Captions with arrows depict everything you see within. This is pretty fun viewing:

Chewbacca Sings Silent Night (and it actually works)

Sometimes I just can’t help myself, and watch all kinds of dorky Star Wars fun from the endless free entertainment provided by the internet. And no, I don’t mean the abysmally received Star Wars Holiday Special. (Although you can find THAT on the internet too, if you have 98 minutes to kill watching something that even Lucas sends Imperial probe droids out to destroy).

Since Chewie has had one of his most active movie roles ever in Solo: A Star Wars Story, I figured it would be appropriate to share just how well a big walking carpet can sing.

Enjoy!

More Star Wars Story fun on RunPee.comFeaturette: Becoming Solo

Incredibles 2 Poster Looks Like A Marvel Film

I was looking at the poster for the upcoming Incredibles 2 film, and noticed that it looked awfully familiar. And not just because I saw and enjoyed the first Incredibles film in 2004, but because the poster seemed…exactly like a Marvel film. Specifically, one in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, AKA, the MCU.

Here’s the poster for Incredibles 2:

Notice the shape, the look, the radial bi-symmetry of the thing, the arms reaching out, the circles on circles.

Now compare that with the current MCU blockbuster…..

 

 

 

Avengers: Infinity War. See the background circle, the hands stretching out, the DaVinci’s Vitruvian Man of the thing?

This is the new look in the last few years for action and superhero movies. I’ll go back a few more MCU films to point this out:

 

 

Black Panther‘s got the circles, the big head at the top, similar character groupings.

 

 

 



Thor: Ragnarok really has the thickly layered Vitruvian Man thing going on, lots of circles, the bilateral symmetry. We can clearly see there’s some branding going on.

 

But wait…another Marvel property followed the look:

Deadpool 2 can get away with this, because a) it’s a Marvel superhero¬† film (not in the MCU, but still), and b) it’s a parody film that sees no harm in poking fun at the “Avengers thing”.

 

 

Where it gets a little weird is seeing this imagery pop up in non-Marvel, non-superhero films, like Solo: A Star Wars Story.

It’s not exactly the same, but someone definitely got the memo about the symmetry, the circles, and the layered character arrangement. Here the circles actually make sense, in-story, because we’re obviously looking through the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. But the similarities are still there. We know that Star Wars is now owned by Disney, who owns Marvel, and also owns Pixar, which is how we get right back around to Incredibles 2, a Pixar film.

Disney’s probably doing some branding, and us good little audience goers now recognize this poster imagery as a form of code: Adventure Ahead. Universal Studios is, by contrast, not doing this little movie shorthand on their posters. Look at Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom for reference:

 

See? There ARE other ways to make an adventure poster. We’ve just gotten used to Disney’s featured look. We’ve been “branded”.

My guess is we will keep seeing this kind of poster until a certain level of saturation sets in. And then Disney will come up with a new stylized code for their big blockbuster properties.

 

Back to Incredibles 2 – this is, like Deadpool 2, a superhero parody that also plays the story straight. (Incredibles is a reworked version of the Fantastic Four, just done right.)

There’s no big meaning to these kinds of things, but it’s still interesting to see how we relate to movie poster images. And the callback to the¬†Vitruvian Man is surely one of the oldest memes. Someone on Disney’s team grabbed that ancient archetype and ran with it.

 

I look forward to what happens when a non-Disney poster unthinkingly follows suit and uses this look. Like maybe when the next DC superhero film comes out. Disney will probably freak and file a lawsuit, but last I heard, DaVinci’s art is royalty-free, and circles are even older.

Solo: A Star Wars Party in San Diego

Last night Solo: A Star Wars Story splashed across screens in the US, to much excitement and fanfare. Everyone loves Harrison Ford’s Han, so people were excited and curious to see a different actor’s take on the iconic character.

[pullquote]Geek that I am, I looked around for a party full of fellow fans to share the anticipation with before the movie premiered. [/pullquote]The best option in San Diego was a downtown shindig hosted by the Fleet Planetarium, with a 21+ pre-movie party full of activities, and a special screening of Solo at the Horton Plaza Regal Cinema. We met at a venue called The Sandbox. Here are the party details.

The party started at 6:30, and while it was a little more low-key than I’d hoped, it was a good time. I got to hang out with Darth Vader (I could not stop calling him My Master, which is just weird, but it felt necessary). There were Storm Troopers, Emperor’s Guards,¬† Kylo Ren, R2D2 (roaming via remote control), and Princess Leia, in full side-buns. Vader even had a voice breathing box — it was uncanny and great fun.

You could interact with the characters and take photos with them, have a few Star Wars themed adult beverages, watch some Star Wars featurettes in a little cinema corner, and do science experiments, courtesy of the Fleet Planetarium.

Some of the experiments were really stretching it to ‘fit’ into the Star War universe: the “Invisibility Cloak”, for example. Last I checked, that was a thing from Harry Potter. Or at least Star Trek, with their cloaking shields. So maybe it didn’t fit, but the experiment was somewhat cool. To wit: if you place a clear glass teardrop into a cup of baby oil, you can’t see it. Really.

Some other activities made more sense — we got to use prisms and 3-D glasses to see light being excited by sodium, potassium, argon and such…relating, of course, to the color of one’s lightsaber.

The worst exhibit showcased gravity acting on a set of plastic beads. Apparently, if you move a string of beads out of a cup a little at a time, eventually gravity takes over and pulls the rest of the beads out. Ohh…kay? I was so flobbered by this demonstration of gravity that all I could say to the nice gent showing off his trick was, “Yes, that would be how gravity works, thank you.”

The shrinky dinks station was the most  fun. There were a variety of blacked-out line drawings to trace onto plastic, which were baked in toaster ovens, resulting in little keychain charms. I made three.

 

There was a nice photo booth with a professional giving out photos for free, so I got to goof around with Princess Leia a bit. Who knew the Princess could lighten up and have a spot of fun?

 

 

Club 33 – Disney’s Exclusive Hidden Door

On a recent journey to Disney to celebrate “Star Wars Month” (from “May the 4th” through the May 25th weekend release of “Solo: A Star Wars Story“),[pullquote] I looked for the mysterious, mostly unheard of, never advertised, and extremely expensive Club 33.[/pullquote]¬† After much searching, I found the door.

What’s Club 33? I didn’t know it existed until this month. While visiting San Diego’s Intergalactic Brewery for their own May the 4th Star Wars celebration, I mentioned my upcoming Disney trip. The local bar-going geeks promptly told me to look for the “hidden door” to Club 33.

“What’s that?” I asked.¬† “An exclusive restaurant,” someone chimed in. “You can drink alcohol there,” the bartender helpfully added.¬†I wanted to know more. Disneyland is so thoroughly family-friendly that beer and wine is banned in the park. So I did a little internet searching.

 

 

Online sources report Club 33 memberships charge $50k for an initiation fee, plus annual dues of around $30k. And then there’s the food and drink prices;¬† a hamburger reportedly costs $42 on the inexpensive, a la carte end.¬†

My guess is this is a celebrity haven. 

[pullquote position=”right”]There’s actually a ten-year waiting list for this privileged experience. Because yes, there’s no other way to get alcohol in Disneyland.[/pullquote] (Caveat. You CAN buy wine in adjacent Disney’s California Adventure Park.)

I had dinner that night at The Blue Bayou, a themed restaurant located inside the infamous Pirates of the Caribbean ride (another rare dining experience, although more affordable to mortal man) and it’s true, there’s no booze on the menu. Gumbo, yes — Chardonnay, no.

Which leads me back to Club 33. Pirates of the Caribbean is located in New Orleans Square, which was my only clue to locating the unsigned, mysterious¬† door. Finding that was on my Must-Do list for this trip, the only must-see besides checking out the Star Wars events. New Orleans Square isn’t very big, but it’s packed with the most restaurants and some of the very best rides. It took some time to locate. [pullquote]I’m not even going to tell you how to find it, because, quite frankly, I’ve given you enough clues. [/pullquote]Most of the fun is in the seeking. Suffice to say that Club 33 does exist. I even got a quick peek inside when someone used their key card to enter: it looks like an art nouveau-style speakeasy.

I took a few pictures of the entrance to assist you in your quest. And if you manage to get in, let me know if it’s worth the price!

Hint. Look for this: 

 

(Images owned by RunPee.com)

Yep. That’s $500 for a lanyard of Club 33. I don’t understand this either:

New Solo Featurette: Becoming Solo

Han Solo is everyone’s favorite space rogue. Star Lord is kind of funnier, and might be almost as cool, but no one can top Han, or — at least — Harrison Ford’s version of him. He still had what it took to make us love Han all the more, in the Star Wars sequel trilogy opener¬†The Force Awakens.

[pullquote]We’ll be seeing soon how well¬†Alden Ehrenreich carries off a younger version of last generation’s most singular and iconic science fantasy movie character.[/pullquote] From all reports, Ford himself has given¬†¬†Ehrenreich’s Solo: A Star Wars Story¬†rave reviews. And this is a normally taciturn actor here. Ford doesn’t do ‘rave’ anything.

So, here is the new 2.22-minute featurette, “Becoming Solo.” Enjoy, and remember, the Force will be with you, always. Even if you’re a scruffy looking, low-level space criminal with a walking carpet for a co-pilot.

And this “Making Solo” featurette is just a bonus:

Mark Hamill Reveals Spoiler for Solo

Ooops. Mark Hamill has been great at keeping Star Wars secrets under wraps since 1977. So it’s a surprise to learn he slipped up and revealed a potential spoiler for the upcoming young Han movie, Solo: A Star Wars Story. [pullquote]But — this being Star Wars after all — it could be a misdirection (from a certain point of view).[/pullquote]

Mild (possible) spoiler follows:

In an interview with the Washington Post yesterday, Hamill casually mentioned how excited C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels is for appearing in every Star Wars film. He’s the only actor in the saga who can actually say that…at least thus far. He even had a cameo in Rogue One. (While R2 was also in every film, that’s a character, not an actor. )

At this point we simply don’t know if C-3PO will be in the next film. We do know he’s working for the Rebellion around now, so he’s out there, at large in the galaxy. But why would he appear in Han Solo’s early years? Solo’s world is about smuggling and other criminal activity. I can’t imagine a good reason for Threepio to be lurking about, unless the Rebellion needs something clandestine done, and sends the droid in to set up a contact. (Actually, that could work.)

[pullquote position=”right”]But it could just be a fanservice cameo, like his appearance in Rogue One, a one-shot purely for fun instead of furthering the story.[/pullquote]

Or Daniels could appear as some other character. It’s not like we know his face very well. He could be a human, or buried under alien makeup. It could end up like “Where’s Waldo?” — a sort of “Spot the Cameo” game.

Or, this could just be a rumor. Hamill can be a rascal these days; the guy is really funny. Maybe he has a bet going with Daniels. Who knows? It’s not a huge spoiler if it’s true, so we can forgive this slip. (These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.)

But….now that I’m thinking about it, there IS someone who could make a legit appearance somewhere. Darth Vader. And Han could end up doing a job for him…

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