28 May 2018

It's Got It Where It Counts

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The Rolling Stones once sang that 'you can't always get what you want' which I learned when I stood on, then slipped off the edge of the bath, cracked my cock on the sink, and ended up in hospital whilst playing 'Tarzan' as an eight year old. That same year I did quite well in my SATs which are a set of school exams that don't really count towards anything at all. Kind of like a degree but cheaper. As a result my Granddad gave me five quid which I was excited to spend on a toy of Han Solo. I'd just seen Star Wars for the first time during its 1997 re-release and my brain was still reeling from the experience. I'm almost fucking thirty now and based on the Millennium Falcon that I have hanging from my bedroom ceiling, I'd say that I probably never quite recovered. You'd think therefore that I'd be excited by the prospect of a Han Solo prequel, but I wasn't. I didn't want it. Why would I want a Han Solo film without Harrison Ford? And isn't the original trilogy essentially his origin story as we watch him go from scoundrel to hero? Luckily the film was to be helmed by Lord and Miller who have made a career out of bad ideas. 21 Jump Street sounded shit and who the fuck is going to enjoy a movie based on Lego? I didn't want a Han Solo film but with these two in charge, the very fact that it felt like a bad idea made it perfect for them. You can't always get what you want though and just as the idea sounded exciting, the pair were fired over 'creative differences'. On the bright side my cock did recover after I whacked it on the sink. Just in case you were still wondering about that.

There's actually a click-bait headline doing the rounds right now suggesting that the replacement director Ron Howard would take hours to film a scene that Lord and Miller were taking days to do. But so fucking what? I couldn't give a shit if an actor had to work twenty-four hour days and was forced to shit into a bucket so long as the final film is still good and my ticket price remains the same. Plus the last two Ron Howard movies I watched were that documentary in which he wanked over The Beatles and Inferno which despite being about the journey to Hell made me feel like I was stuck in fucking purgatory. The obvious joke might be to state that I was optimistic when Lord and Miller shot first however with all of this production trouble, I now had a bad feeling about this. But it's not like Ron Howard is a terrible filmmaker. He's an average filmmaker that just happens to have made some total clag-nuts in his time. However can we ever truly lose faith in the man that directed Splash? If he can make a decent movie with nothing more than a young Tom Hanks and a fucking mermaid then surely he'd do okay with a Star Wars? Rogue One also had production problems and everybody either loved that movie or were completely fucking wrong about it. Optimism began to sink in again and by the time I was on my way to the cinema to see Solo: A Star Wars Story I literally felt that same childhood excitement that I had when on my way to buy my first Han Solo figure.

The film itself tells the story of how Han got his name, met Chewie, met Lando, and first came across the Millennium Falcon. And in many ways these moments are both the film's greatest strengths and its biggest weaknesses. The Last Jedi dared to open the franchise out into new and exciting directions and as a result a minority of vocal fans shat out their stomachs and began pissing their knickers about how angry they were. In contrast, this film is very much the kind of thing that they'll likely enjoy because it doesn't do anything new or break the mould. Solo: A Star Wars Story is a great big rim job to the kind of 'fans' that would rather be pandered to in favour of experiencing something unexpected. If you screamed about how much you hated The Last Jedi then get down on your knees because this film is a circle jerk of moments that are just waiting to be pumped onto your stupid fucking face. However lets not forget that I'm a fan too. I just happen to be a fan that doesn't have his balls so tightly kicked up his own arse that he lacks perspective. The Last Jedi is leagues ahead of this movie, but that's not to say that I didn't enjoy what Solo: A Star Wars Story had to offer. Do you know how you'd always imagined Han and Lando's first encounter to be? Well this film will deliver exactly that. There's no time for twists or shocks because it's too busy giving you exactly what you'd always imagined. Which is fine because it's fun to finally see on screen the kind of scene that I would play out as a child. Although it's a shame that this film doesn't have the guts to include some of the wookie-on-man sex-crimes that my version used to include.

The other problem that the film has is the standard prequel-issue in that it completely lacks any tension. Although we knew the team would get away with the Death Star plans in Rogue One, we didn't know which of them would survive because it was an entirely new cast of characters. Whereas I can only assume that the kind of person who worried for Han or Chewie in this would be the kind of person that relies on their teeth to remind them which hole they should be shovelling food into. None of this mattered too much for me though simply because of the lead performance of Alden Ehrenreich. Cast by Lord and Miller, he really is the young and Ford-less Solo that makes this movie work as well as it does. Ron Howard has done his usual trick of making an enjoyably average movie but it's Ehrenreich that makes it as good as it really is. Of course he looks and sounds nothing like Harrison Ford and it's to his credit that he's solved this problem by not even trying to. But his mannerisms are spot on and his blossoming relationship with Chewie is one of the most fun things I've seen in a Star Wars movie since Luke pulled his 'I've got a boner' face after kissing his sister on the lips. Donald Glover is also brilliant as the younger Lando although I'm pretty sure we all knew he would be. If there's any weak point in the cast then it is by far Emilia Clarke who delivers lines like they're written on her cast-mates forehead. And maybe Jon Favreau's little alien thing too who is basically just Rocket Raccoon if he'd been a severely mutated monkey instead.

However even if Ron Howard has made an average movie that was elevated by a lead actor that somebody else had cast, I don't want to suggest that he hasn't contributed anything outstanding of his own. It's definitely true that like with Edgar Wright having left Ant-Man at the last minute, that Solo: A Star Wars story will always be that enjoyable film that we'll assume would have been greater with it's original and quirkier directors. But with the original directors it was planned for Michael K Hall to play the film's villain and I have no doubt that he would have been good. But when they left so did Hall meaning that a key character was needing to be cast again. Ron Howard has worked multiple times with the brilliant Paul Bettany and so seizing his chance, Bettany genuinely sent a text to him which said, “Have you ever spent long winter evenings wondering why you're not in the Star Wars franchise? I have”, to which Howard responded with, “LOL I'll get back to you”. Thanks to that exchange, Bettany landed the role originally intended for Michael K Hall and despite how great Ehrenreich is, he very nearly steals the film from under him. His Drydon Vos might sound like the name of a skin condition you'd find on an improperly dried arse-cheek, but with Bettany he's a better villain than featured in any one of the prequel movies.

So essentially what you're left with is a fan movie that gives you what you want but without showing you anything new. It has a brilliant lead actor and a worthy villain. It's made by a competent director that's done his best film in years here, and it's based on a script that's written by that bloke who once knocked out The Empire Strikes Back. It really is just a big old blow job to the fans but I'm a fan and having once been asked to use my bare hands to pull a hard-boiled egg out of the drain by my headmaster at school, I can think of worse 'jobs' to receive. The movie is horribly lit and actually kind of looks like a piece of shit, but there's some great action set-pieces and an ending that literally leaves you excited for the possibility of a sequel. If Serenity was a Han Solo movie that didn't feature the Star Wars universe then Solo: A Star Wars Story is a Han Solo movie but without Serenity's tension or weight. Solo: A Star Wars Story is completely unnecessary in terms of how little it adds to the franchise but I enjoyed it all the same because- fuck it, I still got to see more of that universe that I love. I guess where this film is concerned you can't always get what you want but if all you want is a fun adventure movie to chill out to for a few hours then you might just find that you get what you need. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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