I’m going to start this by making a bet with you: of whatever news you’ve heard of Solo: A Star Wars Story (SSWS), the majority (if not all) of it was concerned with troubled signs from behind the scenes on production. It’s always a rough sign when Directors get changed mid-production, and a first trailer being dropped a mere 4 months before release is… well it could mean there’s a lot of triage being done to smooth it all over.
Arrested Development Narrator: There was. In fact, the studio had hired nothing short of a legendary Director to right the ship. However, the new director was finding a unique set of challenges before him. [Cut to behind the scenes video of Emilia Clarke on set in Daenarys’ costume, next to shirtless Alden Ehrenreich with blue body paint]
Here, let’s watch the trailer together. Are you ready?
That was a fun 1:45 minutes, right?
Okay, let me open by saying: despite the rockiness, I am actually cautiously optimistic. I am going to see this. I expect I’ll enjoy it. I don’t expect it’ll be great, but I expect to leave the theater having felt like I got my money’s worth which isn’t something I can always say, (looking at you Chappie).
Before I dive into the trailers a word on the absurdity that studios are now releasing teaser trailers for full trailers. That’s the equivalent of being offered a rice cake to munch on before the bread basket reaches the table. Given that absurdity, I’m going to watch and comment on the SSWS trailers as a single entity, but mostly focus on the “full trailer” since it mostly adds onto what we already see and hear in the teaser, without missing much except for that boss shot of the Star Destroyer in the astral thunderstorm and Lando looking like his opening performance of the Grammy’s just got started.
Right out the gate with the voiceover and the bass guitar line: remember when Trekkies freaked out that Sabotage by the Beastie Boys had been used in a Star Trek trailer? Am I missing something because where’s the vitriol for this dark-rock n roll -tone they’re going for right off.
This is Star Wars, not Spinal Tap.
That being said, I like the idea that Han is a miscreant right from the go.
His speech is a little… odd though when you really unpack it. “Kicked out of the flight academy for having a mind of my own,” but then he wants to join the most uniform, button down, by the numbers, military organization in the whole universe?
We all have that one friend who tries SO damn hard to be this rebel against the mainstream, and since their only identity is avoiding looking like another one of the sheeple, they end up conforming harder to the alternative. I’m just getting the feeling from the first half of this teaser that young Han is someone I’d find insufferable to grab a beer with.
We get one of the best cliches in heist/rogue movies imaginable: “I’m putting a crew together.” These words have been uttered by the greatest, legends such as Dom from Fast and the Furious (and maybe at least 4 of the other 8 or however many there are), Danny Ocean, or Memphis Rains from Gone in 60 Seconds. Congratulations Woody Harrelson, you’ve arrived- even if you showed up dressed like a junkyard watchman version of your character from the Hunger Games movies, hopefully you’ll make this “Getting the Gang Together” list in a future update.
I’m letting the imagery and scenery kind of fly by here, because there isn’t much to say about it. Wide angle shot of a large sandy dune? Imperial looking future street? Most of the other shots are so tight on the characters that there isn’t much to extrapolate from the scenery except that it feels pretty meh.
We’ve got a little montage of “crew” in question. This is where it finally gets good. First off, we’ve got a total cliche RPG team: you’ve got your Rogue [Han], your Tank with her heavy gun, your monk, mage, cleric- then you’ve got your bard: Lando Calrissian.
If you disagree with my role allocation of Lando, here’s my argument: Dude’s got lyrics (telling Leia, “truly you belong among the clouds,” every kid watching that immediately thought Leia would and should go for the slick looking cloud man).
There are some very cool action-y shots, but aside from the piloting stuff, I don’t expect Han to be the kind of guy to try to win a shootout where he’s hopelessly outnumbered, and I chalk this up to a dramatic shot that’s not going to play out that way at all in the real movie.
Remember: in both New Hope and Return of the Jedi, Han was, demonstrably, not the guy to stay and fight when outnumbered. In both films he turned tail and ran (although in the latter it was lure Storm Troopers to an ambush, but still). My point here is: we’re getting a lot of quick shots, and with any trailer it’s essential not to get misled to where the shots are telling your brain it’ll go- odds are very good it won’t go that way in the movie.
I said before that the scenery in the opening is pretty meh, but when Emilia Clarke starts her bit at the crescendo, we are treated to more interesting images than sand, grimy city and mountains. That gold singer is something else, and the storm chase sequence looks like it’ll be awesome- and that “it’s fine, we’re fine” moment, cheesy as it is, is 100% classic Han.
I enjoyed it all. I’m sure this’ll be a fun adventure with great quips and action. Do I expect the story to be great? Ehhhh.
This isn’t the trailers’ or studios’ fault at all, and I’m fully hoping I eat crow on this one, but Han Solo at the start of A New Hope was an amoral smuggler who had no interest in doing the right thing, helping the rebel cause, or believing in the force.
Given the context of this movie in the Star Wars universe, it makes sense why that might be: the Rebel cause looks crazy bleak, and the Jedi way of the Force is a dead religion by that point. So no wonder by the time we get to Mos Eisley, that’s the Han we meet- the Han who almost takes his money and runs instead of joining the assault on the Death Star. That’s character development.
So, what’s the character development for SSWS? He goes from hooligan who wants to join the Empire to… hooligan who’d rather smuggle drugs? I don’t know, I don’t see that being a very compelling arc. He went from being willing to be a space-Nazi sympathizer to being a smuggler under the space-Nazi regime’s nose. No one cares how Oscar Schindler got rich, we care about when he decided the money wasn’t worth being complicit (in Han Schindler’s case, when he came back to cover Luke for the run on the Death Star- potato, potahto).
Unless this movie is going to retcon Star Wars and satisfy some niche fan theories that Han was a rebel double agent/sympathist/spy all along, but… do we want that?
I’m hoping to be surprised. The trailer seems to be promising that with its quick cuts- that’s all a trailer is: a promise. It’s not a summary (the worst trailers are ones that spoil the movie), and the way Emilia Clarke says “I might be the only person who knows what you really are” but never answers Han’s question in response to it: “what’s that?”
As I said above, it could be that this dialogue is not actually contiguous in the movie and cut together for the trailer to lead my brain to a certain place, but the place it leads me is this:
This movie is going to explore and show us who Han shows the galaxy he is, but reveal to us through the adventure the hero that is really underneath despite that facade- even if he puts it back on at the end of the film.
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