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  • Writer's pictureJustin McConnell

Goin' Solo

I have been a Star Wars fan from the first time that I glimpsed the galaxy far, far away. The original trilogy of films will always hold a special place in my heart.

I have been a Marvel fan from the first time I saw Spider-Man swinging across the pages of a comic book.

In 2009, Disney purchased Marvel and built those early films to the crescendo that was 2012's The Avengers. Obviously, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a franchise worth billions that continues to shatter box office records. Admittedly, I never thought The Avengers was a great idea for a movie. In fact, even though I loved the Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor movies, I never thought any of them could work. Shockingly, Disney was able to take lesser known heroes like Nick Fury, Hawkeye, and Black Widow and have them as supporting characters in a film alongside a frozen WWII veteran and a Norse god and it was good. It was better than good. It was revolutionary.

That same year, Disney announced that they purchased the film rights to Star Wars. I was admittedly worried that the franchise was about to be exploited by the house of the mouse.

George is ecstatic.

But a year before they would premier their first Star Wars movie, they released another film that took the world by surprise, Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. This was a movie where two-fifths of the main cast was comprised of a talking raccoon and a tree. But they managed to create a space epic that proved to me that Star Wars was in good hands.

When the Force Awakens premiered, I was there on opening night with a heart full of hope. To my surprise, the movie was actually pretty well done. Sure it borrowed a lot from A New Hope, but the effects, the world building, the mystery surrounding Luke left me wanting more. On the whole, it was a decent movie with lots of potential as to where the story could go.

Shortly thereafter, I heard about another movie they were planning around the theft of the Death Star plans called Rogue One. There were some behind the scenes issues and the movie was thought to be a bad idea that was going to bomb by many industry insiders. But surprisingly to me, this movie became my new favorite Star Wars movie. I was blown away by what they did, the risks they took, and the conclusion of the film had the intestinal fortitude to actually kill all of the heroes in the finale. This was a dark, gritty war movie with a coat of Star Wars paint.

To me, Star Wars was in the right hands. I was excited to hear that we would be getting more of these "Skywalker-free" anthology films to go along with the continuing saga established by George Lucas.

Next up was The Last Jedi, which was a box office success, but left some fans feeling ill will towards the franchise and the choices being made. I still have yet to fully form an opinion on the movie, because I don't think it should be judged too harshly before we see the conclusion of the saga in Episode IX.

The palate cleanser between saga films came in the form of Solo: A Star Wars Story. It released over this past Memorial Day weekend and due to a lack of marketing (for a Star Wars film), lots of rumors of problematic production, the firing of the original directors, and the patchwork done by Ron Howard to fix the film, it was thought to be a bomb. I waited to hear some reviews before deciding to buy my tickets.

However, in my opinion, this movie is WAY better than the two saga films that Disney has released thus far and will leave you wanting more. If you are a fan of Star Wars films, you owe it to yourself to go see it. Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover shine as Han and Lando. Their performances are subtle, but they encapsulate everything great about the scoundrels. Glover manages to use the same suave speech patterns as Billy Dee Williams, without coming off as someone doing an impression.

The film feels like a western about a gunslinger caught under the weight of the brutally terrible circumstances in which he finds himself. As always, Paul Bettany and Woody Harrelson deliver outstanding performances. The cast is rounded out with wonderful performances from Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge as L3-37, and Joonas Suotamo playing a younger Chewbacca as he has since Peter Mayhew stepped down from the role due to health and age.

Even though there are no light saber BATTLES, this movie will leave fans of Han, Chewy, and Lando wanting more from this trio. Han is a man fighting to survive in a harsh galaxy, Chewbacca is a monstrous beast who is learning the definition of loyalty and friendship, and Lando is a silver tongued devil who is willing to lie, cheat, and steal to benefit himself. The three of them are thrown together due to their destinies colliding, but soon grow fond of each other.

Ehrenreich has signed on for a trilogy of Solo films and I think once people give this movie a chance, they will realize why Disney had such high hopes for this one. I have been telling everyone I can to go see it and watch it with an open mind. You aren't going to get Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams, but what you do have is an amazing Star Wars movie that is begging moviegoers to help them make the sequels they have in mind.

Admittedly, this film did not NEED to be made, but it is extremely entertaining and gives us more insight into the lives of the characters we fell in love with a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. This is a film all about friendship, adventure, and pure unadulterated fun. It really does have more heart than most of the recent releases from Disney. There is also a SHOCKING twist towards the ending that will leave every Star Wars fan's jaw on the floor.

Proof that Disney has been dropping jaws since '89

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