Trash Film Guru Vs. The Summer Blockbusters : “Solo : A Star Wars Story”

Posted: June 22, 2018 in movies
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Somebody, please, tell me : where’s all the hate coming from?

Okay, maybe a better way to put that would be — why is all the hate coming in the first place because, strictly speaking, we know where it’s coming from : just as the gaming scene was disrupted mightily by right-wing trolls who didn’t want any women around and coalesced into a toxic stew known as “Gamergate,” and the comics scene has recently found itself fending off a broadly anti-diversity rump of retrograde fans who have taken to labeling their harassment and intimidation campaign “Comicsgate,” the Star Wars scene has been besieged by an as-yet-untitled, but damn noisy and annoying, group of right-wing ostensible “fans” who have decided that their (again, ostensibly) beloved franchise has been besieged by “political correctness,” and that the films are now loaded with so-called “SJW messaging.”

It’s all bullshit, of course : if anything, the Star Wars films are as obliquely pro-war as ever (hell, it’s right there in the name, so maybe it’s not so “oblique” after all), but that never stopped a bunch of noisemakers aligned with the “alt-right” from trying to gin up a controversy where none exists for the sake of hopefully making a few bucks. To date, actress Kelly Marie Tran has gotten the worst of it, her turn as Rose Tico in The Last Jedi — hell, her very existence — pissing off the troglodytes to the point where she has literally shut down all her social media accounts after getting understandably sick of literally hundreds or overtly racist messages and comments being flung at her every day, but for reasons I can’t fathom, these same douchebags also decided well in advance of its release that the spin-off film Solo : A Star Wars Story was going to suck.

Again, though, as always, the dipshit brigade was dead wrong.

And, again, that hasn’t shut them the fuck up, and at this point it’s worth noting that the crossover between the various “gates” is getting pronounced — not just in terms of their vile politics and their even more vile tactics, but even in terms of the very people involved : noted “Comicsgate” shit-disturber/untalented hack artist Ethan Van Sciver, for instance, has recently been migrating over Star Wars fandom and has made thousands of dollars selling bootleg “Soylo” t-shirts (“soy,” like “cuck” and “SJW,” being favored derogatory terminology deployed by “alt-right” types against their philosophical opponents) that I’m thinking Disney’s lawyers might want to take a good look at being that they use the exact same logo as the Solo film.

Tell you what, though — even if Van Sciver justifiably finds himself getting his ass sued off, he’ll probably still claim a pyrrhic victory : Solo, you see, has been the first legit box-office disappointment in Star Wars history, and the “anti-SJW” crowd is taking all the credit for it.

Which, say it with me now, is also complete BS, as there’s nothing even remotely “SJW,” or even political in any way, on offer in this flick. I don’t know why this movie hasn’t done so well — although it’s worth noting that when all is said and done it’ll probably still turn a healthy profit — but I do know that politics has nothing to do with it. Solo is essentially what any Han Solo “origin story” should be : a space western suitable for all ages, races, genders, ethnicities, and political persuasions. A 12-year-old kid who cried with his mom the night Trump won the election and a crusty 60-year-old in a “MAGA” hat can each find plenty to love here, because the film’s enthusiasm is absolutely infectious : Alden Ehrenreich is a pitch-perfect choice in the title role; Woody Harrelson’s rogue-ish Tobias Beckett is a fantastic foil/mentor; his partner in crime and life, Thandie Newton’s Val, is equal parts tough as nails and achingly human; Paul Bettany cuts a genuinely menacing and mysterious figure as chief villain Dryden Voss;  Donald Glover is spot-on stupendous as a young Lando Calrissian; Emilia Clarke is coolly intriguing yet eminently relatable as Han’s love interest, Qi’ra; hell, even Joonas Suatomo seems to approach the role of Chewbacca with a little extra heart. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that all the principal players flat-out nail it in their roles.

I’m thinking this all flows from the top down — veteran blockbuster director Ron Howard was brought in approximately halfway through to rescue what by all accounts had been a flagging production, and armed with a screenplay by old Lucasfilm hand Lawrence Kasdan and his son, Jonathan, the air of tonally perfect professionalism established is unmistakable : the humor (of which there is plenty) is well-timed and genuinely funny, the battle scenes and their attendant special effects spectacular, the various subplots compelling — seriously, this is a “popcorn movie” that’s firing on all cylinders all the way through, and more importantly, it has everythingStar Wars fan could possibly want, and nothing they don’t.

For all that, though, very little feels forced, there’s no sense a “checklist” Howard and the Kasdans are working from is having its various boxes ticked off : yeah, how the hell Solo became such a good “space cards” player is never really explained and just needs to be taken as a given, and they do rush on pretty quickly from a central character’s death, so much so that it feels downright callous, and sure, the third act contains a bit too much set-up material for a sequel that will now probably never happen (although there’s a real jaw-dropper among these foreshadowings that ties this flick into Lucas’s much-maligned prequel trilogy) — but apart from that, everything here really flows from scene to scene quite nicely.

And speaking of “flow,” the entire film positively flies by, it’s two-hour-plus runtime over with all too soon. But you know what? You’ll be smiling the whole way, because Solo : A Star Wars Story isn’t just the franchise’s best outing since The House Of The Mouse took over (well over 12 parsecs ago now), it’s the best since The Empire Strikes Back.

So, where’s all the hate coming from? Well, when I put the question out to twitter as to where the supposed “SJW messaging” in this movie was to be found, I only got one response, that from a person I recognized as being linked with “Comicsgate” (some of them follow me out of sheer spite, I think), who opined that the “problem” with it was that it featured a “miscegenation relationship” (Harrelson and Newton) and “acted like it was perfectly normal.”

The hate, then? It’s coming from racist fucking assholes. And any movie that pisses them off is probably pretty damn good — this one certainly is.


  1. Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

    Reblogged this on Through the Shattered Lens.

  2. Ryan Jennings says:

    Hey Ryan,
    Man, I could not agree with you more, my friend. I was so, so happy after my wife & I (finally) got out to see Solo about 10 days ago (we have three munchkins: 5, 3, and 1, so movies at the theater are very rare these days). It was AWESOME. I truly loved every minute of it! And I’m a Christian, Conservative Republican! Of course, I’m not an alt-right racist, so the pairing of Thandie & Woody wasn’t even a blip on my radar. (Racism is such a shame, but we know there’ll always be awful people that hate something about somebody for absolutely no good reason. A sad fact about the imperfect world we live in, right?) Now, Lando & L-3 was a bit unexpected….But hey, if Wanda & Vision can do it, why not, right? And she was so well-written. The only thing that *kinda* bummed me out was the way they said Lando was “pansexual”, but honestly, I really didn’t see much of anything pointing to it in the film (beyond L-3’s sassy/jealous remark about Lando “flirting” with Han, maybe….but it was SO funny!). Anyway, if it really was the alt-right racists that torpedoed the film, that’s a real shame. I don’t know how they were somehow able to get all the reviewers, critics, and fans alike to hate on the movie so hard (or just flat out not show up to see it), but I for one have been cheerleading for it since the moment the end credits rolled, so I was really happy to see that you loved it too. And all the incredible connective fibers between the original films? So well done! Truly a Star Wars fan’s dream. And just like you said, they didn’t feel forced at all, but rather totally organic. The excitement, the adventure, the drama (man, I was literally crying my eyes out during the final scene between Lando & L-3….but I admit, I’m a big crier in movies, and that includes several Star Wars movies, e.g. RotS, R1, ESB, RotJ, TFA, TLJ, and now Solo), and the sheer splendor of it all was so wonderful to watch, I honestly felt awful for everyone involved, and especially for Ron Howard, knowing how poor the reviews and ticket sales had turned out. I mean, this was a film that, let’s say a friend, or relative, or perhaps even one of my kids had made, I would’ve been SO proud of what they had accomplished, and would’ve been so sad and hurt for them to have had to endure the terrible reviews and poor box office numbers that Solo has received. So I guess at this point, all we can do is keep sharing how great it is with others, and like I do with so many of my other favorite films, try to pass them on to and share them with the next generation of film gurus (just watched Flash Gordon with our 3- and 5-year olds today, and they loved it! “Go, Flash, go!”). Anyway, thank you again so much for all your wonderful, in-depth reviews, Ryan. You’re a very talented writer/critic, and a lot of fun to read. I know I speak for a lot of subscribers when I say that I definitely love me some “filmguru”….please keep it up, brother!
    Warmest regards,
    Ryan Jennings

    • Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

      Thank you for the many kind words, glad to know you enjoyed the film every bit as much as I did!

  3. Tars Tarkas says:

    Nice writeup! I didn’t hate this one but it didn’t stand out to me. Most of the political criticism from crybabies not only falls flat on its own, but don’t apply to this film at all, despite their protestations that they somehow influenced the box office. The film mainly suffers from the split direction, with the more interesting film buried beneath the more bland shell. This leads to things like the reveal of the mercenary being set up as something that was probably way more dramatic before the whole film was changed around it. Plus the big reveal at the end I hated but that’s largely because I don’t care for that character. Still, I’ll probably watch it a few more times, it took about 10 minutes and the new actor basically was Han Solo so that wasn’t a problem, and Glover is just amazing. I’ll probably end up liking it more and more the more I watch it. I did hope it did better at the box office just to help inspire more copycat space heist movies as that is the kind of film I’d love to have lots of options for.

    Disney should keep these things released at Christmas time, that would probably be better than shoving them in the middle of a crowded early summer period where several of your own films are competing with it. I’m sure the haters will get upset over the fact that non-white males exist no matter what Disney does, but they are obviously buying tickets anyway which makes it all useless noise that drowns out anything sensible from being said. With youtube revenues declining, expect even more extreme arguments from people desperate for views.

    • Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

      That last point is depressingly true, as YouTube tightens the belt, it’s the “edgelord” shit that is the only stuff garnering enough views to get “content creators” paid. Agree that the Christmas release schedule seems best for the “Star Wars” flicks, as well.

  4. So true, those alt-right trolls are not just ruining politics, even movies! When I watched Star Wars for the first time I liked it, now I can’t even look at movie poster without feeling overwealmed by the toxic atmosphere.

    • Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

      Yes, they harassed Kelly Marie Tran right off social media, just like they did to Leslie Jones. Their actions are as inexcusable as their ideology.

  5. I didn’t realise this film was hated so much, it hadn’t even occured to me. So awful for Marie Tran! I had no idea.

    • Ryan C. (trashfilmguru) says:

      Yup, a certain segment of really crusty “Star Wars” fans has been acting really childish and hateful in recent months, they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

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