On the whole, I applaud the plethora of new Star Wars films coming out these days such as Solo: A Star Wars Story. Oh, maybe to me they aren’t as good as the original movies, but then again…I’m not ten years old anymore.
Perhaps that’s what makes the new stuff a challenge for us old-school fans. In the 1970s and 80s, we were all at a very different place in our lives. We had no preconceived ideas about how a Star Wars movie “should be” in 1977. We were a blank slate in that regard and we accepted the Force and the hyperdrives without much fuss. Now, however, we are in our late 40’s and 50’s. We feel we know best how a Star Wars movie should look, feel and taste.
Even though I am affected by this virus as much as any older fan, I try to keep it in check. After all, much of the fun of seeing any new Star Wars film is discovering another person’s interpretation of Gorge Lucas’ original vision. Which brings us to Solo: A Star Wars Story.
First off, I have to give kudos to the entire cast. Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover both did excellent jobs. I imagine it is very difficult for an actor to follow behind another actor’s interpretation of a character, but both these guys pulled it off flawlessly. And frankly, for me, that’s the most important part; the characters.
I love characters. Rich, textured, deep, and convoluted characters make for the best fiction. Thus, one of my chief complaints about The Matrix wasn’t the world building…but that I never gave a crap about one-dimensional Neo! Give me characters I care about and any movie or book is well on the way to giving me a story I care about. Skip that part, and you might as well go home and forget about it.
Comming back to Solo: A Star Wars Story, I must say it could have done better. Here’s where I hike up my old-fogy pants and shout, “Kids, get off my lawn” I suppose, but I felt the film put too much emphasis on action and not enough on characters. In total, I counted eight action scenes in the movie whereas the original Star Wars had only five. The action in Solo was done well, but it took time away from character building scenes that I felt the movie could have used more of. In fact, my favorite scene of the film is where Tobias Beckett teaches Chubacca how to play space chess. The scene is short but it connects us to the old beloved original movie while deepening our understanding of who this Tobias guy is.
Perhaps that’s modern movies on the whole for me. Too much well-choreographed action and not enough well-written character scenes. In the original Star Wars, Lucas took his time. We had long conversations between characters like Luke and his Uncle and Aunt. We had meaningful banter between Han and Leia.
Of course, I write books, not movies. Action scenes connect with an audience differently on a screen than on a page. Characters, however, are just as important in both mediums. and it’s characters that matter.