Is Solo a Star Wars Story?

Or can we boldly explore some new worlds?

solo_a_star_wars_story_posterI saw Solo: A Star Wars Story on Sunday, and I was impressed.  It was a fun movie, not as dreadfully serious as the other three new films, and had some nice surprises.  Spoilers: you actually get to see Warwick Davis’ face on screen.  There is no Boba Fett, no Jabba the Hutt, and there is little about The Force, the Jedi, the Republic, and I didn’t see many stormtroopers.  Come to think of it, there was an entire fighting force devoid of stormtroopers, something never-before-seen (not counting Clone Wars).  The ships, the droids, the planets, the villains, and the primary conflict are all completely new.

There is organized crime, not new, but presented in a new way.  There is a conflict over raw materials.  There are rebel mercenaries fighting for the freedom of their own planet, much more like Star Wars Rebels than the original saga.  There is explicit revolutionary thinking in political terms.  There is slavery.  There are space anomalies that have not appeared in any of the films or shows, some of which came from the Star Wars Expanded Universe.  The acting was good, but at times it seemed like Han and Lando were Han-like and Lando-like, almost impressions rather than roles, as if the actors’ and director’s interpretation outweighed their “duty” to the favorite characters. I think the Han in this movie is a completely different character, far more morally concerned and sentimental than Harrison Ford’s selfish, comical rogue.

In my estimation, other than the iconic starships and characters, there was very little in Solo that linked it to the other films.  I’ve already heard a reviewer say it’s a big galaxy and there’s plenty of room for other storylines and not everything has to be linked so tightly to the saga as Rogue One.  In that case, I ask the same question that I asked about Rogue One, also a good movie: why make another movie about the Star Wars universe?  Solo was even more a fan-fiction than Rogue One.  I won’t make the argument that Lucasfilm owes us, its fans, something new and original.  Artists don’t owe anybody anything.  They make their stuff, and put it out there and if people don’t like it, they don’t buy it.

willow_movieI just wonder artistically, if Lucasfilm couldn’t better spend their talent on new stories, instead of scraping more out of the galaxy far, far away.  Didn’t we love George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg because they brought us characters and worlds never seen before, like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, E.T., Labyrinth, and Willow?  They paved the way for a slew of great (and some not-so-great) fantasy and adventure films.

Have they just run out of ideas?  I don’t think so.  The rest of the world sure hasn’t: bookstores are full of great original stories, most of which are not simple derivatives of Tolkien or Star Wars.

I don’t see why Lucasfilm has to equal Star Wars, as if it was the only thing they ever did.  They seem caught up in the whole revamp and reboot sickness, despite showing how original and artistically sincere they can be with Solo and Rogue One.  Why not come up with a whole new space opera?  Why not make a film out of Sword of Rhiannon?  As it is, we know what to expect in too many cases: the stories strive to be original, but they are tied down by what fans expect.  It’s nostalgia, and it’s not as interesting as a good book.

Let me know what you thought of the movie, and if you think it’s time to enjoy some new settings.  Are you writing your own?  What of your writing is influenced by Star Wars, and what traps do you hope to avoid?

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