Thursday, January 24, 2019

Solo and Friends

In spite of NetFlix purging itself of Disney series in anticipation of Disney's own upcoming streaming service, I saw Solo: A Star Wars Story has appeared on NetFlix. It occurred to me Solo is the only Star Wars movie I hadn't seen more than once so I thought I'd see how well it played on the small screen a couple days ago. Pretty well, it turns out; I think the film would've been better served as a television miniseries, in fact. If "miniseries" is even a concept anymore when seasons are normally eight to ten episodes anyway.

Solo has clearly identifiable episodes that would've benefited a lot from expansion--there's Han and Qi'ra on the streets of Corellia, there's Han in Imperial infantry, there's the heist with Beckett's crew, there's the Kessel Run which contains meeting Lando plus the slave revolt, and then finally there's the multiple confrontations on Savareen. That's at least five distinct parts. Star Wars films usually have acts distinguished by locations and character pairings but generally only three with maybe some brief interludes. A New Hope could be divided into Tatooine, Death Star interior, attack on Yavin IV. Empire Strikes Back could be divided into Hoth, Luke on Degobah/Han and Leia escaping, Bespin. There are important moments in the interludes like the Coruscant segment in Phantom Menace or the Mon Mothma and Admiral Akbar briefing in Return of the Jedi but the only other movie that tries to cram as much as Solo in is Attack of the Clones, and Attack of the Clones is longer by twenty minutes.

In particular, the segment on Corellia could've done with a lot of expansion. It feels very rushed, largely because of how frequently characters spout exposition at each other. I love the Oliver Twist vibe and would've liked to have seen more of Han as Artful Dodger. I'd have liked to have seen Han's father who worked on YT-1300s.

But the biggest flaw in the film is Qi'ra.

Emilia Clarke is basically a brunette Daenerys Targaryen for the whole film. I suppose you could say, in a galaxy far, far away, there's no reason a street urchin wouldn't speak with a posh accent but it kind of takes something away from the Imperial officers. Game of Thrones does a good thing by using real world accents to distinguish regions and class in a fantasy world. It would've been great to have the impression of a big transformation between the last time Han sees Qi'ra on Corellia and when he meets her again on Dryden's yacht. Something to indicate elocution lessons and training that Dryden paid for, something to show the disturbing ambiguity about how much of her is the Qi'ra Han grew up with and how much of her is the woman manufactured by Dryden. This would've led to a bigger pay off in the climax of her storyline, for one thing.

I wonder if Dryden Vos is named after the 17th century poet John Dryden. The poet Dryden never struck me as quite so assertive, I kind of think of him as kind of a drip. His translation of the Aeneid is a bit monotonous in my opinion.

Anyway, a more versatile actress would've been good for Qi'ra. It's hard for me to think of names because I watch old movies most of the time and my instinct goes to Barbara Stanwyck or Diana Dors. Oh, Diana Dors would've been perfect. Someone who was just as good at playing common as polished. Nowadays . . . I guess Jennifer Jason Leigh and Charlize Theron are too old. Rachel Brosnahan maybe.

Carrie Fisher would've been good. She's so down to earth in A New Hope, she doesn't really seem like an aristocrat at all. She seems more delicate in Empire Strikes Back and then in Return of the Jedi she's sort of a mixture of the first two films; the confidence of the first film and some of the restraint of the second film. So I like Carrie Fisher, how's that for a controversial statement?

It'd be a shame if Disney really is putting an end to these anthology films because Solo was only a blockbuster instead of a mega, super industrial, smash. But I guess it's all part of the disappearing cinematic middle class.

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