So I like many people have seen a new generation of Star Wars movies appear in the Cinema over recent years and I have seen debate after debate as to which is best and why and I myself have made comment in one or two places though typically find that views are misrepresented or folks within some quarters are unwilling to accept that everyone has a point of view based in there own experience that is not necessarily in alignment or concordance with there own views.
Over the years I think Lucasfilm and now Disney have accepted that a Star Wars Universe has huge scope for quite divergent audience appeal and related story’s and they have typically sort to cater to broad ranging demographics accordingly.
Though I do see some rubbish repeated over & over again so I thought it might make more sense to give some clarity to my own position, on my own blog and so-called publishing outlet.
The Force Awakens was the first of this new generation of films – despite a large international fandom having existed and continued to exist through books and cartoons and video games and so on for many years.
The Force Awakens therefore had huge expectancy levels and brought folks to Cinema who may have not made a Cinema trip in many years. The film I think grossed over $2 Billion and that reflected the widespread appeal of the franchise among peoples old & new.
However huge feedback moans existed from most quarters new & old due to a belief that it was simply a rerun of the Original A New Hope. Debates might have existed as to the quality of several of the young new cast members, though fans put those aside, and indeed issues such-as the Angry Temper Tantrum of Kylo Ren, or my own moans about the costuming.
We were then presented with Rogue One and that took over $1 Billion at the Box Office, demonstrating a $1 Billion box office drop off from The Force Awakens. Many who had turned out for The Force Awakens stayed away for this one having already become disillusioned with The Force Awakens. Many who went to see the movie claimed to love this particular film, I found it strong or well grounded in terms of story & acting etc. though a little lacking in character or personality, it (for me) was something of a Soul less video game walk through and I think its main proponents were younger generation people who gained entry into the Star Wars Realm through video games.
The next movie was of course The Last Jedi, and again this one like Rogue One was well grounded and strong in terms of story telling and it was absolutely sizzling with strong performances from very much all of the cast, it had tension and friction and passion and comedy. This again took around the $1 Billion at the Box Office though again many Original Fans stayed away due to disillusionment with The Force Awakens. Fans that did turn out seemed to complain it was not the soulless video game walk through Rogue One. Or that it was not Star Wars, in the sense of being Signposted Action or close to anything that had gone before Original Trilogy and Prequals. So regular cinema going and heavily cynical critics and people who like and want to be surprised (such-as your truly) loved this film and gave it high rating, it also had greater appeal across multiple generations and audience demographics (IMHO). Even if the feeling or story arc followed an ever increasing seeming sense of desperation or running out of time & Hope.
So Now we have Solo: A Star Wars Story. I have seen various discussion, and indeed been to see the film and it is somewhat hard to genuinely gauge. If you asked Original Trilogy fans who they most wanted to be, they would have perhaps chosen Solo. When asked what they would most like to see in a Solo movie they would probably say, Han winning the Millenium Falcon in a card game, and Han doing the Kessel Run and Han meeting Chewie. So Solo is out of all the most recent film releases, a kind of wish fulfilment for Original Trilogy Fans. If you go into a Cinema wanting to simply be entertained in the fun fashion of the good old days of the 1980’s Trilogy you will thoroughly enjoy this movie, written as it was by some of the best of Original Trilogy Writers.
The film is a fun filled roller coaster ride that leaves you feeling satisfied in having seen Han winning the Falcon in a Card Game, Han meeting Chewie, Han doing the Kessel Run etc. with plenty of comedic touches and moments.
So why then has it received less positive reviews than its predecessors? I think it simply demonstrates or reflects a differing generation of audience used to differing criteria or what they expect within such films. We know going in for example that Han, Chewie, Lando and The Falcon, cannot necessarily die or come to any great harm.
This film like all films in fact is a sequence of “set pieces” such-as those I listed above, Han gets his gun, Han meets Chewie, Han wins Card Game, Han Does Kessel Run, the difference perhaps is that they are really signposted as a sequence of wish fulfilments and comedic sketches and the accompanying plot surrounding those is not really going to stand up to a great deal of scrutiny. I think the Original Directors were filming it as a series of Sketches and Ron Howard was brought it to create some cohesion between the disparate nature.
This is a fantastic Fun film that can easily be loved as long as you are not someone who has become accustomed to dissecting everything in the minutest of details. Something Star Wars fans have been known to be doing for a very long time.
I thought the actor playing Han was pretty good, and the surrounding cast of Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany and Danny Glover and even the new Chewie were really great, as were the production values and special FX.
I think the issue for any Origin Story is this one of the sum of there parts. Perhaps a psychology exists that the Group that came together within A New Hope (Obi Wan, Luke, Droids, Leia, Han & Chewie) were greater than the sum of there parts, therefore when you go into the Origin realms you are faced with having to reduce or limit how great those characters can be as standalone. That is troubling because I genuinely would like to believe that new audiences can appreciate the aged nature of the Original Trilogy and Characters and-or that they could have had great adventures apart, prior to coming together.
So it is actually difficult wondering as to what can occur next – yes JJ Abrams co wrote and created The Force Awakens and can claim to have taken $2 Billion at the Box Office, though he also kicked of all the great debates and Original fan drop off, as to where the Franchise or movies should be heading. It was also demonstrated that he did actually pick a great cast because Rian Johnson seemingly managed to gain some great performances from those same individuals.
Can a balance be found between such diverse and disparate fandoms?
I think that Lawrence Kasdan in commenting on his own writings for the series spoke upon the issue of TONE, and we long time fans know what we like in terms of Star Wars realm Imagery etc. and perhaps the balance between comedic and seriousness moments etc.
I have thoroughly enjoyed and liked all of the recent movies in there own ways, though typically I think some folks want all favourite characters or indeed films to be as they themselves envisioned and any divergence from that gives them cause for complaint or brain incoherence.
Were we entertained? Do we feel like we had value for money? Will we be discussing the events with our friends and families or social media circuits for ever and a day?
I think the Star Wars realm doom & gloom mongers and naysayers are a little early in prophesying all is not well within Star Wars Universe, when many fans simply fit into a silent majority of liking much of the produce from the realm though are not necessarily being continuously vocal about such things, especially when you consider that the market place and competition is far greater & broader & wider than at any time within the History of these Legendary Cinematic Empires.
Thank you for reading, God Bless and Be Well!