JUNE 3, 2018

http://www.rockwired.com/CapitalSTimes.jpgOLO: A STAR WARS STORY is being released in a time when ROSEANNE BARR loses her TV show over a racist tweet and conservatives are demanding SAMANTHA BEE's head on a platter for dropping the C-word in regard to the first daughter. TWITTER wars are more explosive than anything that is happening in a galaxy far, far away, even in this latest offering from DISNEY's STAR WARS. News outlets everywhere are predicting that the brand is in trouble given SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY's less than spectacular box office and the residual fanboy condemnation of  last Christmas' THE LAST JEDI.  Maybe rolling out  a STAR WARS movie every year ain't the way to keep the excitement going, but I will stick my neck out and say that I've enjoyed what DISNEY has done for the franchise thus far. On a cinematic level, KATHLEEN KENNEDY hasn't turned the water into wine, but her instincts have worked in moving the franchise from the  shiny, CGI-kiddie fare of the prequels back to the lived-in, space western-feel of the original trilogy. That was all I was asking for back in 1999. I've got the STAR WARS universe I want, and now it's time for prequel fans to hate the new direction of the franchise.  With that being said, SOLO is the STAR WARS movie I always wanted to see. The problem is, I can barely see it.


"Murky" doesn't quite do the cinematography of this film justice. In the opening frames, we want to take in this OLIVER TWIST- styled upbringing of the  titular character on the shipbuilding planet of Correlia with his girlfriend QI'RA (EMILIA CLARKE) as they score enough coaxium (hyperspace fuel) to break free from the servitude of  the worm-like crime boss LADY PROXIMA (voiced by LINDA HUNT) and her goons. When HAN (ALDEN EHRENREICH) and QI'RA escape on a landspeeder for the nearest spaceport  through the dark, urban caverns of Correlia and light shines in the distance, I wanted to get up and cheer. Finally, they are headed toward a light source and I can see what's going on! The decision to make everything in low light  is my major gripe with this latest installment. Visually, it doesn't synch up with any iteration of STAR WARS and takes me out of what is a formidable space western. In attempting to get off the planet, QI'RA is detained and SOLO runs for cover in an Imperial Academy recruitment desk. The guy is gonna be a pilot after all.

Three years later, SOLO is a soldier  fighting for the Empire on a foggy terrain, where he runs into three Imperial soldiers who turn out to be a gang of smugglers lead by TOBIAS BECKETT (WOODY HARRELSON)  and VAL (THANDIE NEWTON). You can see the mentorship of HAN SOLO coming a mile away despite the hazy cinematography. BECKETT and his gang are attempting to steal a ship and pilot it to the planet Zandor to steal a shipment of coaxium for the crime lord DRYDEN VOS (PAUL BETTANY doing his best RICHARD WIDMARK). Dissatisfied with life as an Imperial soldier, HAN wishes to come along but BECKETT says no and encourages him to get away from the war. When HAN tries to blackmail BECKETT into having him come along, BECKETT reports HAN as a desserter and HAN is thrown into a pit to be eaten by "the monster" who ends up being CHEWBACCA. The greatest bromance in science fiction fantasy is forged and the two concoct an escape. BECKETT is impressed by SOLO's tenacity and decides to introduce him to a life of intersteller crime. And who couldn't use a little more muscle in the form of a seven-foot wookie?


The heist on planet Zandor looks like a sure thing. It's the first time we've seen anything that looks like a train-heist in a STAR WARS  film and the sequence is riveting. However things become complicated when the heist is disrupted by rival pirates called CLOUD RIDERS led by the menacing ENFYS NEST. The coaxium that our smugglers attempt to steal is lost and BECKETT loses his entire team sans HAN and CHEWBACCA. All that is left is to return to DRYDEN VOS with tails between their legs. VOS' space yacht comes to them. It's here that HAN reunites with QI'RA who has worked her way up to being VOS' second in command. VOS agrees not to kill BECKETT and his new compadres, if they can score raw coaxium from the planet Kessel.  However they will need a pretty fast ship to transport the unstable subtance from Kessel to the planet Savareen to be processed. In comes LANDO CALRISSIAN (DONALD GLOVER) - smuggler extraordinaire and  the proprietor of the MILLENNIUM FALCON - who agrees to lend QI'RA and the boys his ship as long he can come along and get a piece of the action. Unfortunately he brings along his verbose, obnoxious droid L3-37 (voiced by PHOEBE WALLER-BRIDGE) - a middle finger from KENNEDY to those who say that STAR WARS has become all SJW?  

No one needs to be reminded of EHRENREICH's unenviable position. I expected a cold line reading and what I got was the same sensibility that CHRIS PINE brought to JAMES T. KIRK in the re-booted STAR TREK - which itself was a HAN SOLO-inspired performance. EHRENREICH's SOLO isn't a million miles away from FORD's but it does lack FORD's natural, everyman sensibility. GLOVER's CALRISSIAN  fares worse because it is a line reading and given GLOVER's impeccable comic timing, not to mention his notoriety of late as CHILDISH GAMBINO, it would've been great to see a character like LANDO truly go somewhere unexpected. Oh and that pansexual hype? Never makes it to the screen. EMILIA CLARKE makes QI'RA the first femme fatale in STAR WARS. Throughout the film, we're kept quessing where her allegiance lies. Unfortunately we learn it lies with a STAR WARS villian from the past that we thought was dead. HINT: He was sliced in half. She doesn't take it to BARBARA STANWYCK heights, but the effort is pleasing.   HARRELSON's BECKETT is also a first. It is the first time we hear a southern drawl in the STAR WARS universe. At times, it takes you out of the picture but HARRELSON is a committed pro and as SOLO's mentor, he plays the ambiguity card perfectly. I just wish PAUL BETTANY had more scene chewing to do as the film's primary villain. 


At press time, it's been announced that SOLO is officially a flop and not likely to recover the two-hundred-fifty-million dollars (maybe more) that it took to get it made. Personally, I find the news disheartening. A deeper look at the criminal underworld of the STAR WARS universe was just the movie I wanted to see, and I got it with SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY. I'll admit I took my time to see it. It was an entire week before I caught a matinee. Ever since the release of THE LAST JEDI, the STAR WARS universe and brand have come under attack by overgrown fanboys complaining of the SJW agenda they see written into these recent films. YOUTUBE is filled with vloggers baying for KATHLEEN KENNEDY's blood and longing for the days of LUCAS' anemic prequel trilogy and revisionism. It was great stepping into a dark theater to see SOLO...and get away from the vitriol for two hours. For now, the haters are having a field day but realisitically, I think this only a black eye for the STAR WARS brand that will heal in time. It's a shame that the film's under performance at the box office has overwhelmed a fine science fantasy adventure flick. We just hope that when it goes to digital that the film's lighting issues won't be a problem.

http://www.rockwired.com/CapitalSTimes.jpgpace opera was all about escapism and having grown up in the STAR WARS era of the late seventies and early eighties, I was exposed to the best that the genre had to offer. All you needed as a ship that could travel faster than light and a laser gun at your side and the galaxy was yours. SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY is return to that kind of storytelling, but given it's box office performance, who knows if we'll see anything like it in the future. I thought I'd mention up a few bargain bin space adventure classics from this era that hit the spot just as good as any STAR WARS flick and if I may be honest, these were all better than the prequels that no wants to remember as being terrible.







http://www.rockwired.com/CapitalB.jpgrian Lush is a music industry professional and entrepreneur. In 2005 he launched the online music site Rockwired.com to help promote new music artists in conjunction with the weekly radio show Rockwired Live which aired on KTSTFM.COM from 2005 - 2009. In 2010 He launched the daily podcast series Rockwired Radio Profiles which features exclusive interviews and music. He has also developed and produced the online radio shows Jazzed and Blue - Profiles in Blues and Jazz, Aboriginal Sounds - A Celebration of American Indian and First Nations Music, The Rockwired Rock N Roll Mixtape Show and The Rockwired Artist of the Month Showcase. In 2012, Brian Lush and his company Rockwired Media LLC launched the monthly digital online publication Rockwired Magazine. The magazine attracts over 75,000 readers a month and shows no signs of stopping. Rockwired Magazine also bares the distinction of being the first American Indian-owned rock magazine. Brian Lush is an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Brian Lush's background in music journalism, radio and podcast hosting, podcast production, web design, publicity, advertising sales, social media and online marketing, strategic editorial planning and branding have all made Rockwired a name that is trusted and respected throughout the independent music industry.

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