Archive for Kessel run

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On the shipbuilding world of Corellia, orphaned children are made to steal in order to survive. Han and his lover Qi’ra make an escape from the clutches of a local criminal gang. They bribe an Imperial officer with a stolen sample of coaxium, a powerful hyperspace fuel, in exchange for passage on an outgoing transport, but Qi’ra is apprehended by their pursuers before she can board. Han vows to return for her and joins the Imperial Navy as a flight cadet. When the recruiting officer asks for his family name, Han says he has no family, and is alone, so the recruiter gives him the surname “Solo” in his documents.

Three years later, Han has been expelled from the Imperial Flight Academy for insubordination. While serving as an infantryman during a battle on the planet Mimban, he encounters a gang of criminals posing as Imperial soldiers led by Tobias Beckett. He tries to blackmail them into taking him with them, but Beckett has him arrested for desertion and thrown into a pit to be fed to a beast – a Wookiee named Chewbacca. Able to understand Chewbacca’s language, Han persuades him to work together to escape their confinement. In need of extra hands, Beckett rescues them and enlists them in the gang’s plot to steal a shipment of coaxium on the planet Vandor-1. The plan goes awry when the Cloud Riders show up with their leader Enfys Nest, resulting in the deaths of two crew members, Rio Durant and Beckett’s wife, Val, and the destruction of the coaxium.

Beckett reveals he was ordered to steal the shipment for Dryden Vos, a high-ranking crime boss in the Crimson Dawn syndicate. Han and Chewbacca volunteer to help him steal another shipment to repay the debt. They travel to Vos’s yacht where Han finds Qi’ra, who has joined Crimson Dawn and become Vos’s top lieutenant. Han suggests a risky plan to steal unrefined coaxium from the mines on the planet Kessel; Vos approves but insists that Qi’ra accompany the team. She leads them to Lando Calrissian, an accomplished smuggler and pilot who she hopes will lend them his ship. Han challenges Lando to a game of sabacc, with the wager being Lando’s ship. Lando cheats to win but agrees to join the mission in exchange for a share of the profits.

The team boards his ship, the Millennium Falcon, and heads for Kessel. After reaching the planet and infiltrating the mine, Lando’s droid co-pilot L3-37 instigates a slave revolt. They use the confusion to steal a consignment of coaxium, but L3 is severely damaged and Lando is injured during the escape. With the help of L3’s navigational computer, freshly hotwired into the ship’s systems, Han pilots the ship along a dangerous route through an uncharted maelstrom to elude an Imperial blockade. The Falcon, badly damaged, lands on the planet Savareen to process the coaxium.

During a confrontation with Enfys, who has tracked the team from Vandor, Lando flees in the Falcon. Enfys explains to Han that she and her crew are not pirates, but rebels trying to prevent the syndicates and the Empire from gaining power. Han becomes sympathetic to their cause and tries to trick Vos, but Beckett has already alerted him to the double-cross. Vos sends his guards to kill Enfys, but the Cloud Riders overpower them instead, leaving Vos defenseless. Having anticipated Vos’s strategy, Han tries to take the coaxium, only for Beckett to betray Vos, escaping with it and taking Chewbacca hostage. Qi’ra kills Vos and sends Han after Beckett; once alone, she contacts Vos’s superior, Maul, to inform him of the mission’s failure and claim Vos’s position within the syndicate. She avoids telling him of Han’s involvement, instead blaming everything on Beckett.

Han catches up to Beckett and confronts him. Han shoots Beckett first before he can shoot him, and with his dying words Beckett tells Han he made the smart choice. Qi’ra leaves in Vos’ yacht, while Han and Chewbacca turn the coaxium over to Enfys. She offers Han a chance to join the rebellion against the Empire; when he declines, she gives him one vial of coaxium, enough to buy a ship of his own. Han and Chewbacca locate Lando and challenge him to a rematch in sabacc, once again wagering the Falcon. Han wins, having stolen the card Lando was keeping up his sleeve in order to cheat, and he and Chewbacca leave for Tatooine, where a “big-shot gangster” is putting together a smuggling operation.

REVIEW:

Han Solo has long been a fan favorite, but we have never really known much about him, how he partnered up with Chewbacca, won the Millennium Falcon, etc. Part of this mystery is what has made him such an endearing character, but there is also that part of all of us that wants to learn more about his past. This is what Solo: A Star Wars Story sets out to accomplish. Was the goal met?

What is this about?

With the emerging demand of hyperfuel and other resources, Han Solo finds himself in the middle of a heist alongside other criminals, where they meet the likes of Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian in an adventurous situation exposing the criminal underworld of the Star Wars saga.

What did I like?

Kessel run. In Star Wars, one of the first things out of Han Solo’s mouth is how he made the Kessel run in 12 parsecs. When we meet Lando Calrissian in Empire Strikes Back, he also alludes to it, if I’m not mistaken. For something that is such a major bragging point, one would think we’d have seen it. Hell, i had no idea what the Kessel run was until halfway through this film. I was thinking it was some kind of race, a la Cannonball Run, so I am very pleased to learn what this was and see it actually happen.

All hail, Khalessi. Every review of this film that i have heard and/or read is praising Donald Glover’s performance as Lando Calrissian, and with good reason. With Han, the jury seems to be split, though. I want to speak about Emilia Clarke. First off, Solo better back up off my future wife!!! Second, anyone that has seen an episode of Game of Thrones is more than aware of the acting chops this young actress has, but one thing that hasn’t really been put on display are her action chops. Sure, she starred in the last Terminator film, but who actually watched that? If she keeps making these blockbuster films, she is sure to be one Hollywood’s “it” girls. Some would say she is more deserving that most of the current crop.

Bring the fun. Surely by now, you have heard of the massive backlash against The Last Jedi and most of the cast and crew. If you haven’t, go look it up on YouTube, or google some of the insane things the rabid fan have said while hiding in their parents’  basement eating hot pockets and breathing heavily through their mouths. For me, I feel these films dubbed “the new trilogy” are too dark and serious. Somehow, the makers of this film remembered that the original films may have had some dark themes interspersed with exciting action, but there was also fun and levity in there as well, something these new films seem to forget.

What didn’t I like?

Language barrier. This whole time we’ve been under the impression that Han and Chewbacca just understood each other. Well, throw that assumption away because, according to this film, Han speaks Wookie. Now, i will give the film credit for introducing that aspect of their relationship because it explains how they got together in the first place. However, they way  they bring it up in their initial meeting and it is never mentioned or used again is what i didn’t like. No, we didn’t need to hear Han butchering the Wookie language (it is explained that he isn’t a Wookie linguist), but perhaps gradually show the growing relationship and understanding of the two, rather than two Wookie lines and bam, they can understand each other perfectly.

Cat scratch fever. I was just made aware as i was setting this review up that the character of Dryden Vos was originally to be played by Michael K. Williams, but was recast with Paul Bettany because of scheduling issues. My problem has nothing to do with Bettany nor does it involve some comparison of the two actors. My issue is with the look of the character. Had Williams been able to return to the set for reshoots, we’d have seen a true alien life form, much like we are used to seeing in this universe. Instead, we get Bettany who appears to have had a run in with a lion, tiger, or something along those lines. I guess if this was a last minute addition, i could understand it was a quick fix, but given all the money that this production has, surely something more imaginative could have been done. Unless this was a case of Bettany not wanting to sit in the make up chair for hours on end as I’m sure he has to do to play Vision in The Avengers films.

Low stakes. Through no fault of its own, this picture is flawed. How so? Well, no matter how perilous situation they were put it, we all know nothing is going to happen to Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian, as they appear in the holy trilogy. Much like every character in Rogue One was killed off because they weren’t in the actual films, we have the same scenario here. As much as I liked Lando’s droid L3 and the Emilia Clarke’s character Q’ira, we know what fate awaits them, whether it is in this film or beyond. This is a problem with prequels, you can’t really give the audience a heart attack because of a situation involving the main character because it is already known they survive.

Final verdict on Solo: A Star Wars Story? Something amazing is happening with the Star Wars franchise here in the last few years. We’ve had 4 films. The 2 that continue the main story have been well-received, but reaction has been average at best, most of that coming from The Force Awakens. The other 2 films, this and Rogue One, exist outside the main story, weren’t super hyped-up (personally, I was avoiding this film) and yet, they have been some of the best films in the franchise since the holy trilogy. I could list a laundry list of complaints about this film and end up typing all night, but instead the thing that is most important to know about this film is that is has everything we have come to love about the Star Wars franchise, action, comedy, romance, adventures in space, characters we wish we could be, aliens, etc. For that reason I say this is a must-see!

4 1/3 out of 5 stars

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