Star Wars (A Star Wars Story)

D: Gareth Edwards
Disney/Lucasfilm (Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur & Simon Emanuel)
USA 🇺🇸 2016
133 mins

Science Fiction

W: Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy [based on characters created by George Lucas]
DP: Greig Fraser
Ed: John Gilroy, Colin Goudie & Jabez Olsson
Mus: Michael Giacchino (& John Williams)
PD: Doug Chiang & Neil Lamont
Cos: David Crossman & Glyn Dillon

Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Diego Luna (Cassian Andor), Ben Mendelsohn (Orson Krennic), Donnie Yen (Chirrut Imwe), Mads Mikkleson (Galen Erso), Alan Tudyk (K-2SO), Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera)

Rogue One begs a question; why were the prequel trilogy nowhere near similar quality. The answer is because this film is aimed at the vast legion of Star Wars fans, whereas the prequel trilogy was aimed solely at children.
As fans would know, this film takes place immediately prior to the first Star Wars film and the details of the plot are explained in the first episodes opening crawl: a group of rebels undertake the suicidal task of infiltrating blueprints for the planet-destroying Death Star, allowing the rebellion to destroy the galactic empire's biggest threat to them and their people.
The dark tone of Rogue One emulates The Empire Strikes Back, as it rightly should, taking place in the very middle of intergalactic civil war and before Luke Skywalker had even set eyes on a lightsaber.
The film introduces a cadre of new characters, as well as recycling old ones through the use of some impressive visual effects, and though the focus is on action rather than characterisation, they are all reasonably well written and the performances are decent.
The plot will be obvious to Star Wars fans, but despite this, the story does feel quite original, mostly due to the conceptual elements of the production design and visual effects. One tiny criticism is that it does miss John Williams' original music, but Michael Giacchino doesn't do too bad a job in adapting them with his own twist.
The unsurprising success of the film guarantees that there will be unlimited potential to tap into secondary adventures which take place in-between existing episodes and though this will be a financial cash cow for Disney films, there's a chance that the franchise may exhaust itself too early. After all, you can only have so much of a good thing, can't you?
Considering the amount of copycats that Star Wars has inspired over the past 40 years, it's welcoming to have an official spinoff, and though it's a great deal better than the prequel trilogy (The Phantom Menace, Attack Of The Clones, Revenge Of The Sith), it doesn't quite match the grandeur of the original trilogy, especially considering the first films were made at a time when CGI effects were still in experimental stages. 
Still, this adventure should retcon Episodes I-III, for those, like me, who found them incredibly poor instalments to the saga.

Felicity Jones in Rogue One
Felicity Jones in Rogue One


D: Ron Howard

Disney/Lucasfilm (Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur & Simon Emanuel)

USA 🇺🇸 2018

135 mins

Science Fiction

W: Lawrence Kasdan & Jonathan Kasdan [based on characters created by George Lucas]

DP: Bradford Young

Ed: Pietro Scalia

Mus: John Powell (& John Williams)

Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo), Woody Harrelson (Tobias Beckett), Emilia Clarke (Qi'ra), Donald Glover (Lando Calrissian), Thandie Newton (Val), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Paul Bettany (Dryden Vos), Erin Kellyman (Enfys Nest), Jon Favreau (Rio Durant), Linda Hunt (Lady Proxima), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (L3-37)

When Disney brought the rights to Lucasfilm for a tidy sum, they announced that not only will there be three more films to the original saga, but a series of spinoffs ancillary to these main stories. Solo is the second of which, following 2016's Rogue One, which was likewise set between the events of Episode III & Episode IV.  We can expect a whole lot more of these too, because as long as there is money to be made, Disney will squeeze every last penny out of this movie franchise. There is a famous adage however, that you can only have so much of a good thing.

2018's Solo provides the backstory of one of the sagas most beloved characters, starring Alden Ehrenreich as the roguish pirate Han Solo, from his meagre beginnings on a slavery planet to becoming the pilot of the iconic Millennium Falcon. 

From my own personal point of view, there was enough backstory provided for this character in the original Star Wars movies, and his introduction in the 1977 film was more than sufficient, as was his character arc within that story as a money-grabbing mercenary turned hero of the hour by the time the credits roll. That being said, the trailer had me hooked and I was happy to pay the price of the movie ticket, especially since Rogue One was so impressive. Unfortunately, Solo was incredibly underwhelming and totally unnecessary.

The film flirts with the legend of the character, having escaped from poverty and being thrown out of the empire's flight academy, meeting his longtime companion Chewbacca, and performing the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs is all on the billing, but only touched on the periphery as Han Solo joins a gang of bandits and assists with the heist of incredibly volatile rocket fuel for a crime lord named Dryden Vos.  There's also a bit of romance thrown in, which serves to underpin why Han was presented so cynically in his original introduction.

There are some very entertaining moments in this Star Wars chapter, and the performances in general are good, but it has to be said that the whole is less than the sum of all its parts, and the introduction of an irritating droid with an SJW agenda gives the saga one of the worst characters imaginable since Jar Jar Binks in Episode I, and it really doesn't have enough jeopardy in the action scenes which make you think that the characters are in any real peril... we already know that the main duo are going to survive.

On balance, Ron Howard does a good job bringing balance to a very troubled production, but the film itself is nothing like how the original teaser trailer presented it, and is just a series of set pieces which don't have any real dilemma.

It's nowhere near as bad as The Phantom Menace, but it's equally as disappointing.

Disney need to realise that the fans need more than this, but they don't care. All they really want is our money.


Alden Ehrenreich in Solo
Alden Ehrenreich in Solo