You probably didn’t notice, but I deliberately avoided talking about The Last Jedi last year. And not because I didn’t have things to say about it (I do), but because there was too much noise around it and people seemed to be taking it all extremely personally, to the point where telling people you thought the film was fine was functionally equivalent to saying “it was the worst film in the world and you are a bad person for liking it”.
Now we’ve all calmed down a bit, let’s talk about The Last Jedi for a moment, shall we? I watched it again in Ireland over Christmas and stood by my assessment of “fine”. It’s got a great start and a great ending, but in between – the entire middle stretch of the film, basically from Finn waking up until the scene in the throne room1 – is extremely poor. It’s boring, it doesn’t do anything to advance the plot. In fact, at points, you can even detect a whiff of the prequels, which is not a favourable comparison.
I saw The Last Jedi twice and twice I came out feeling disappointed. Not because I’d seen a bad film (it was fine, remember?) but because I’d come out of a Star Wars film and wasn’t feeling giddy and excited. It didn’t give me that feeling of having seen something really great. The last time I remember walking out of a film feeling that sense of deflation was probably Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull2 – another film with all the basic ingredients of a thing I love with my whole heart but which just didn’t have that ineffable quality that worked for me.
The teaser trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story was released last week and I guess I should lower my expectations for what a “Star Wars” film means to me. I mean, I’m not saying it’s all bad. There are some amazing images in there – a Star Destroyer coming through a storm cloud, Han under the Millennium Falcon in a smokey haze – and you know what? All those reports about the studio hiring an acting coach for Alden Ehrenreich don’t worry me because that one little nod during the “It’s fine” moment in the trailer is such a perfect touch of Han Solo that I’m convinced the “acting coach” was probably more likely an “acting like Harrison Ford coach”.
But almost everything else about this trailer suggests a film that I could easily, happily skip and miss nothing. The whole “kicked out of flight academy” shit makes me think that there’s a solid chance the entire film might be an attempt to replicate the “Greedo shoots first” scene for providing unnecessary, shitty character motivation and, in doing so, make the character less cool.
I dunno, I’m sure the film will be fine.