Solo: A Star Wars Story – I honestly loved it in spite of myself.

Solo_movieposterorangeWhen Disney announced that the next stand alone film in their Star Wars film schedule would be a young Han Solo movie, I was livid. Harrison Ford is and always will be Han Solo. Full Stop. That’s it. That’s all. No questions. I wasn’t in the least bit interested in seeing someone else play the role.

I’m still not.

I was already unhappy with Disney and their sequel trilogy from The Force Awakens. Oh, the use of story elements/beats from A New Hope didn’t bother me. That part was fine. It made the film feel like it was in universe. No, if you’ve read anything here on my blog, you know that what upset me the most was the misuse of my favorite characters. They acted in ways that were outside of how they would act. Things happened off screen that shaped key decisions and actions that were so far out of who I knew these people to be, and  we were just supposed to accept it. I always hate when plot devices trump characters. (Han wouldn’t have left Leia and Luke would never ever ever ever! have run away from his responsibilities…oh, and he wouldn’t have had a “moment of weakness” and tried to kill his man-baby nephew).

Then came The Last Jedi. I didn’t hate it like other people did, because Mark Hamill really went for it and was just wonderful. The humor was stupid. Admiral Holdo was annoying and unnecessary. Everything she did should have been action given to Akbar. Nothing about the movie surprised me. It followed exactly what I thought they’d set up in the depressing new Trilogy. That isn’t to say I liked it or thought it subverted expectations. It met mine. Mine were low. That was not a good thing. I left the theater feeling released. At this point, I don’t care where the story goes, and don’t plan to see Episode IX. That’s not being vindictive, I just honestly and truly don’t care about what happens next.

That makes me really sad.

But a funny thing happened the last few months, and I ended up going to see Solo: A Star Wars Story on its opening weekend.  After Ron Howard was brought on board as director, and he started to tweet out little things like a shot of the Spice Mine (of Kessel) and the Millennium Falcon and other little fun easter eggs, I started to warm up to the thought of an adventure with Han and Chewie. It’s hard to dislike Ron. I’ve loved his other movies: Willow, Apollo 13, so I knew he could make something I might enjoy.

Then I saw the trailers.

The first one was unremarkable, but subsequent ones started to look fun. I listen to the podcast Rebel Force Radio and as they started to talk more and more about their thoughts on the trailers and I started to get more and more excited. I really needed Solo to help undo the damage that the new sequel trilogy has done to my enjoyment and excited anticipation of Star Wars.

My children are currently done with Star Wars. My daughter thought The Last Jedi was terribly boring, and my son just isn’t into it enough to want to go to the theater to see the latest films. (The MCU is a different story for both of them). So my husband and I took in a matinee on opening weekend. And I found it delightful.

I was very anxious for about the first 5-10 minutes. I feel like I’ve been burned with so much disappointment, that I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about yet another Star Wars movie that let me down. Then there’s the scene Han pulls out a “thermal detonator”. I won’t spoil the details here, but suffice to say that it made me smile, and then I continued to smile for the rest of the movie. The subtle nods to the original trilogy and the prequels were all around. The laughs were subtle. No one was brooding or a hollow shell of their former selves. The double crosses were expected, and the adventure was fun. I absolutely loved Alden as Han and while Lando was all the buzz before the film came out, it’s the Han and Chewie relationship that develops on screen that is the heart of and the most fun part of the movie.

As I left the theater, I couldn’t wait to buy the soundtrack and return to see it a second time. None of my fellow Star Wars friends went out to see Solo in its opening weekend. Their interest in Star Wars has been severely dampened by the depressing The Last Jedi. Honestly, mine is too. But we’re taking it out on the wrong movie. Solo feels like something George Lucas would have made. Ron Howard does a great job of capturing the fun feeling of the original trilogy.

I will be sitting out Episode 9 when it hits theaters next year, but I am happy that I caught Solo: A Star Wars story while it made its first run. I only wish the two times I did go see it could help it in the box office because I want to see another adventure of Han and Chewie.

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About that upcoming Han Solo Film…ugh

Backstory: Star Wars was my rock and my refuge during any and all of the dark times. It shaped who I am and my career path. It is what I love. My office is filled with Star Wars memorabilia.  I think you who have read my posts here already know this.

This brings me to Solo: A Star Wars Story. Let me say that this is my emotional response to the film, not the trailer. I have almost no emotional response to the trailer. The best I can say about it is that it looks like a generic science fiction film. This is a response to the existence of the film itself. I don’t care who they cast as Han in this film, Harrison Ford will always be Han for me. I loved reading the backstory (now Legends) books that came out in the 80s precisely because I could see Han as I knew him in my head while reading the stories. I am not interested in seeing another actor try to take on the role. This film just really needs to not exist. That’s really the beginning and the end of it for me.

I feel like this film is unnecessary (and yes, I know that no film is really necessary). So, I don’t care if it’s good or bad. I don’t care if it’s funny or not. I don’t care if the actor they case is any good or not. I am sure he’s a fine actor. And I love Ron Howard, so I am sure he’s done a fine job directing. I just don’t plan to see it. I know that makes me sound like all of those Star Wars fans that everyone is tired of listening to their rants, but it is how I feel.

I know that with this post, I just continue the negativity that almost all of my Star Wars related posts seem to express these days. I don’t like feeling this way, and I don’t like what the fandom is becoming. We are all angry and some of us express it in different ways.  However, I do hold Disney responsible for their part. Yes, the fans complained to/about George when he made Ep I, II, III (well, I didn’t, I liked them), but with them, he didn’t undo anything that had come before. Nothing about Luke, Han and Leia and their efforts and adventures through Eps IV, V, VI had to change with the events of the prequels. In my opinion, much if not all of Ep VII, VIII so far have been about undoing the past, and that hurts. I think that’s where those of us who are unhappy are coming from.

How funny that I feel this way, when just 5 years ago, I couldn’t give my money away fast enough to acquire Star Wars things. I collected all of the figures, all of the books, all of the things! Flash to now, and I will still buy things with Luke, Han and Leia but I no longer look forward to new Star Wars things coming out and definitely don’t collect merchandise of these new films, and neither do my children.

It is what it is.

MTFBWY

I am not alone: The disappointment of my fellow Star Wars fans

It’s been an interesting few days, now, in this post “The Last Jedi” world.  As I said in my first post, after I saw the movie, I didn’t hate it. I couldn’t. Mark Hamill was too wonderful in it. But I did say that I’m done. This isn’t my Star Wars and I’m not interested in where it goes from here.

This is really something I’ve been saying for two years, since seeing The Force Awakens. The events of The Last Jedi are pretty much exactly what I expected. Not that I am happy about that, but it wasn’t surprising. This is where I thought the Disney Story was going.

A funny thing is happening on the internet. Slowly, fans like me, are starting to vocalize that they don’t like this new direction. They aren’t happy that the victory at the end of Return of the Jedi, and the happy ending we got for our heroes Luke, Han and Leia has all been for nothing. They don’t like having to “kill the past” or accept that their heroes were just human. It’s not really an enjoyable experience anymore.

I thought it was just me. I felt mostly isolated these last two years as everyone tried to tell me The Force Awakens was great. Now, I am not alone.

Several very thoughtful articles have come out on the subject. All of them filled with spoilers, so be careful if you haven’t seen the movie yet and want to remain spoiler free.

Here are a few:

Star Wars is Dead, Gen X-ers. Get over it.” Written by a fellow member of Gen-X who is trying to come to grips with the fact that this new Star Wars isn’t for us.  It isn’t a slam on the new movie, just a commentary of unhappiness of the author. The folks commenting on the article don’t get that subtlety. (maybe that’s why so many of them like TLJ. They don’t see the subtle things that are breaking our hearts).

The Backlash against The Last Jedi explained“. I think this one comes close to understanding, although my disappointment with the new trilogy isn’t with the humor nor is it with the inclusion of women (naturally).

Here’s Why the Luke Skywalker of ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Doesn’t Feel Like Luke (commentary).”  This is a really good one, and I agree with pretty much everything in it. My dislike, from a storytelling perspective, is that we’ve been told everything and not shown it. I can’t accept the fates of Luke, Han and Leia because we’ve been told things happened and they reacted rather than seeing the things happen and their reaction. The characters I see in these new movies are so very foreign to me, and nothing feels earned. There was no relationship between Han and Ben in The Force Awakens, and the death of Han really felt flat. It didn’t hit me emotionally then or now.  Similarly, we are told about the backstory of Luke and Kylo, not shown. Perhaps if these movies had taken place 15 years ago and actually showed us the fall of Luke’s Jedi temple, things might have been better.

I’ve been posting articles like the ones above on my Facebook page all week. My friends have probably tired of my constant anti-Star Wars rhetoric. One of them responded to a link by saying he hasn’t found a single friend of his who saw TLJ that liked it. So he and his family are going to wait for DVD. My response to him was as follows:

I think you will find that folks who are our age, who saw the original trilogy in the theaters, who grew up with Luke, Han and Leia in our heads, will not like this movie. They shouldn’t have liked the Force Awakens for the same reasons, they just didn’t see it. This trilogy very forcefully throws away everything achieved in the original trilogy. It very directly says to those of us of a certain age in the audience, to kill the past, and stop idolizing your heroes. This movie isn’t bad. Mark Hamill makes it with his amazing performance. It’s just the whole premise of the story exists to destroy what we loved, and I won’t accept it. So this is the Disney Star Wars, not my Star Wars, and I’m done.

In the end, all of these other voices, who also have the exact same feelings I do, are giving me a sense of closure. I was always going to walk away from the new Star Wars. From the moment the credits rolled on The Force Awakens, I was done. I just needed to see Luke one more time.  In a small way, knowing I am not alone is really very comforting.

Star Wars – My Theory about the origin of Rey

leia-rey-solo-163329

Photoshop mashup borrowed image of Leia, Rey and Han.

The Last Jedi opens in just a few months, and I keep meaning to write up my own theory about the origin of Rey, the young woman with force abilities whom we last saw handing Luke Skywalker his father’s lightsaber.

This isn’t based on any inside information and it could quite possibly not be where the story tellers have decided to go. I believe that as J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm wrote The Force Awakens, they had no idea what back story they were going to give Rey. They might not have even thought she needed to have a back story until “who are Rey’s parents” dominated the conversation. Unlike the original Lucas stories, which were linked together by one person’s vision, this new trilogy seems to be made up as it goes along. I am not necessarily saying this is a bad thing (well, yes, I am saying that), rather that it is just a thing. Therefore, absent a grand plan, the answer to the “Who is Rey” question might never really be fully satisfying.

My theory below isn’t meant to be “the” answer. It’s actually the only story that will redeem this new trilogy for me. Up to now, I don’t really incorporate it into my own “head canon.” I have gone on and on before about how I abhor the fundamental changes to the main three characters (Luke, Han and Leia) in this new trilogy. My theory tries to fill in some acceptable background story so that I might find their motivation slightly more palatable. I don’t think I will ever accept the new trilogy as my Star Wars. It lacks so much of the heart and wonder and joy of the original.

So, given that long introduction, my theory on Rey is that she is the presumed dead daughter of Han and Leia, younger sister to Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo), and also a former student of Uncle Luke Skywalker’s young Jedi academy. I based this theory less on how it neatly ties up loose ends and more on the fact that the pain of losing their daughter is the only way I will accept that Han and Leia wandered around in a separated state. They fought too long together against too many things to separate because their son made bad choices. Having their son turn to the dark side is just another thing in a long line of things that Han and Leia would have faced and fought together. I never felt it was enough of a motivation to drive Han to run off and return to smuggling as an antidote to parental pain. But the loss of a young child? That kind of grief could drive our favorite smuggler to wander about the galaxy, a grieving father, drifting about.

If I were to frame the story, Rey would have been another one of Luke’s pupils, along with her older brother and other force sensitive young children. She could have been 8-9 years old at the time of the massacre of this new Jedi academy at the hands of the Knights of Ren. But because she is his little sister, and perhaps “there is good in him”, Kylo would not have been able to kill Rey. Instead, he’s the one who took her away and hid her on Jakku. He had to do it quickly, and left her someplace that his fellow First Order folks would never look. He either had to make it look like she died as well or that somehow she got away and disappeared. Perhaps he’s spent the last few years trying to prevent anyone from finding her, keeping her safe from a distance.

Rey would have been young, and things would have been traumatic. Maybe she has a vague memory of her parents, maybe she doesn’t. We haven’t really been shown any memories on purpose so the storytellers after The Force Awakens weren’t boxed into any decisions about Rey. So, with a little hand-waving, the story could decide that Rey is be the daughter of Han and Leia.

In the end, I think the back story of Rey will be revealed in The Last Jedi. I don’t know which way Lucasfilm has decided to go. For some time, both Abrams and Johnson have said that her origin didn’t matter as much as her future. I contend that Star Wars is all about origins, and their impact on the future as well as the choices we make in spite of those origins. I approach this December with much trepidation. After I do see The Last Jedi, you can be sure I will weigh in with my opinion. Depending on how it goes, it might be the last new Star Wars movie for me for a long, long time.