Glad you enjoyed it Ben. I agree that it was a bit unfairly overlooked in the end.
Yeah, I liked Solo; I don’t think I loved it, but it did what had to do and did it well enough. It didn’t torpedo the mythology or anything, it was well made, and Ehrenreich didn’t blow it.
I know it sounds like I’m damning with faint praise, but it didn’t blow me away. It also didn’t insult me, and for the past two decades that’s all I ask for out of a Star Wars flick.
I will say it’s also a damned shame that it looks like Disney and Lucasfilm have scuttled the standalone films. Would love to get an Obi-Wan movie and a Boba Fett movie. Maybe even go deeper and do some stuff like Darth Plagueis and young Palpatine, or a Lando solo movie.
I don’t think it was the marketing really but rather the accumulated effect of an okay Episode VII and a lacklustre Episode VIII. Solo came out just when the general audience was a bit disappointed with Star Wars - and I don’t think it’s about the fans, and I don’t think it’s about controversy, either. It’s just that the casual movie-goers, the ones not particularly invested in Star Wars, weren’t stoked by Ep VIII and because of that, there just was no great desire for another SW movie when Solo came out.
They really have to do something about saving their brand in the long run. And I don’t thin Abrams is the solution, either.
Except the narrative I’ve seen time and again is both films were big successes and better liked by casual fans. It’s a strange one.
One problem, which I doubt Ep IX will do much to change, is for some Disney’s trilogy is more-or-less a standard hostile office takeover where all the old staff - Luke, Han and Leia - are fired to make for the new staff - Poe, Rey, Finn, because the new owners want ‘their’ people in charge.
The other problem is they pinball between sky high ambitious moves like what they did with what happened to Luke, Han and Leia post-Jedi and then go all the way to total timidity on trailers, where they just don;t want to give anything away. It’s really weird.
On books and comics they’ve done far better but those too are limited by this weird hesitancy. Maybe once Ep IX wraps that’ll finally go but I’m sceptical. Habits are hard to change and this MO they’ve had since 2014 will be very bedded in.
I think casual fans have liked these new films a lot more than the hardcore ones. What zapped Solo was that all the talk had turned negative. Popular movies live on positive buzz. I know it seems obvious, but fans don’t often understand how they’re influenced, or how they influence others. Once chatter goes in one direction, it’s hard to change perception. And once that direction is settled, the casual fans will start to notice, and either decide to care or not. They won’t bother with being a part of something if there doesn’t seem to be anything to be a part of.
The interesting thing would be to analyze the results. Who determines the lasting memories? Is it the hardcore fans or the casual fans? Who says, that’s how Darth Vader ought to be, watching Rogue One? Anyway…
I don’t think it’s entirely that. Marketing is a bit hard to gauge as we see different things but I went to my quiz night with friends I’d been to see The Last Jedi with and said I’d been to Solo. They had no idea it was out.
I don’t quite know why they didn’t keep the annual schedule up and put this out 5 months after the last one but I think it was a factor. Episode 8 was quite divisive, people did seem to either love or hate it but even if half the audience that hated it stayed away Solo would have made a lot more than it did.
Disney, unless they’re stupid, will have done a lot of research before and after ‘Solo’ came out.
We don’t know what the results of that were, but we know what they’ve decided to do;
No more spin off movies for now, but they are doing spin off shows for Disney +.
Keep making the new trilogy, but pay Abrams to come back and do the third film.
My reading of those decisions is that they think the spin-offs lack a built-in audience that’s big enough to support a huge cinema release, but that they still have faith they can build audiences for them.
Also, that the core trilogy had slipped a bit with ‘Last Jedi’, so the returned to the man who made 'Force Awakens, which was a huge hit, despite fan criticisms, meaning that the mainstream audience had embraced it more than the follow up movie.
The films have to find huge audiences, they cost so much money and they carry the banner for the whole thing. They’re going to play safe for a while.
It’s interesting how the one element of SW, that of a plucky, underdog rebellion, transfers itself to fan discussion. On the big controversies, past and present, each fan tends to see their self as fighting against a tide of contrary opinion! It’s as if SW fans do not want to be part of the majority opinion. I wonder if psychologically we are drawn to that which doesn’t agree with us?
You, Lorcan and I see the ST quite differently but in this respect we each posted seeing the opposite picture, albeit in different places - I saw more pro-TLJ than anti, you and Lorcan reported seeing the reverse in the Twittersphere and YouTube.
All true, but the road charted to Ep IX by TLJ is a lot of things, I wouldn’t classify it as a safe one.
Which is exactly why Abrams was rehired and why he will rein in a lot of the edgier stuff.
Yup. I’m not sure it’s the right move, mind you - Force Awakens was always going to be a huge hit on account of being the first new SW movies in almost two decades. But I don’t think it manages to quite catch people’s imagination in the way it needed to, and that the reduced viewership of Last Jedi is also a result of that.
Purely anecdotal, of course, but my then 11-years-old kid should have come out of the theatre beaming with enthusiasm after Force Awakens, but he was more “It was alright” and consequently had little enthusiasm about seeing Last Jedi the year after (although we still did, of course). And after seeing Last Jedi, he had no interest in Solo.
And that’s in spite of still loving everything else Star Wars.
There were actually only 10 years between Revenge Of The Sith in 2005 and The Force Awakens in 2015. They successfully made it feel like a bigger break.
Oh yeah, that’s right. It did feel longer for me.
I think part of it was that they heavily hearkened back to the original trilogy and barely referenced the prequels, especially when it came to the marketing. The only prequel reference I can even remember in TFA is the reference to a clone squadron, or something like that.
They seem to have softened up on the prequel references in the meantime, with stuff like Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa in Rogue One and all the talk in The Last Jedi of the Jedi being responsible for letting Darth Sidious take power.
Which was bollocks of the highest order - let Sidious do anything? Come on. Lucas set it up so the Jedi had no chance against Sidious. It was:
- Sidious to Jedi: Choose A, B or C
- Jedi: B
- Sidious: Fucked are you.
- Jedi: If we went A or C?
- Sidious: Still fucked are you.
Which was the point. One area where the PT succeeded is in rendering the Jedi as terribly flawed but in no way deserving a death sentence - that line of thought started after ROTS. (Much like the holy blood of Skywalker rubbish). Some of the Clone Wars animation stories partly fed it too, then we get to TLJ’s lunacy.
The better reading of that scene I’ve seen is the idea that Luke knows he’s coming out with complete crap but is using the Jedi and Sidious as substitutions for his own failure. Going full Morrison-style meta on TLJ does kind of work.
Another aspect here is the PT is 15-20 years old now, its fans have also grown up and they really like those films, so are another audience that have to be reflected in the products.
Finally, there was a fear of covering politics, due to how the PT failed on that. This is something that, in order to convincingly defeat the First Order, Ep IX is going to have to cover to some degree. TLJ did a very cautious bridge, with mentioning outer rim allies but more than that’ll be needed thus politics. Hmm, they haven’t killed off Mon Mothma yet, have they?
I don’t know, I think the point of the story Lucas was telling in the prequels was to show how an established structure like the Jedi can become arrogant and conceited and can struggle to have the self-awareness needed to see its own flaws and account for them.
Long before The Last Jedi was even conceived, I felt that the prequels were showing how the hubris of the Jedi allowed Palpatine to take power from under their noses. I’m sure we talked about it here a lot.
I quite like that reading of Luke’s thinking though. I think you can have it both ways: the flaws of the Jedi order - and the way that they became ‘blinded’ and their ability to use the force diminished - allowed Palpatine’s rise; but Luke is also putting the worst possible spin on the Jedi and is ignoring all of their positive aspects.
All the flaws were there sure, but what did the Jedi deserve for them? Because, nuts as it sounds, the idea is out there that Order 66 was great!
As to Sidious taking power - the Jedi were expressly staying out of politics, which is where Sidious made all his moves. He was appointed Ambassador and then Senator by Naboo, at every point he played the system flawlessly. Short of staging a coup - and we see how that turns out in ROTS - the Jedi had little options. Lobby against Sidious? Hard to pull off, Palpatine was very popular and that’d count as straying into politics which they weren’t to do.
Similarly the clones. If the Jedi had simply walked away from the Republic or refused command, the results would have been? Likely deemed traitors, it’d be a golden PR opportunity to put 'em through a shredder, which would also have been the physical fate of the clones. That the entirety of the Clone Wars was a device to both destroy the Jedi and quietly create the Empire is one of the best aspects of the PT.
Where I’d agree the PT Jedi absolutely fell down is in these respects:
One of the ideas that started with the PT is that Jedi don’t think, they know. Sounds bonkers, but the way it worked is Jedi get all the info and guidance from the Force therefore no reflection is necessary! So, if someone was to screw over their access to all that, they would be totally stuffed because they lacked the practical reasoning to act without the Force. Hmm, wonder if someone went and did thay? You know, I think they did.
And then there’s Anakin - the Jedi didn’t have a clue how to handle or support him. Sidious cultivated a relationship sure, but this is the area where the Jedi could have screwed him over if they had shown more emotional awareness. I don’t think it would have stopped the Empire’s creation or the Clone Wars, but it would have deprived Sidious of Vader. This where they screwed up immensely.
Like a lot of stuff in TLJ, while I dislike the execution, the idea of there being far more to the Force than Jedi or Sith is a very good one, but it’s not that new either. Legends did a quite a bit with the notion of there being other ways to view the Force. What is new is the idea of the Jed owning the Force, which is wholly TLJ’s take. I think that comes across as odd as owning takes you close to possession and that is something the Sith would lay claim to. Even the PT Jedi saw themselves as servants of the Force, not its owners.
Were they? It feels like they meddled in loads of political stuff throughout the prequel trilogy. The very first section of Phantom Menace is about them interfering in trade disputes, then they go to Naboo and take sides in their war with the trade federation, they lead clone armies into battle, they get roped into Palpatine’s schemes… If they were trying to stay out of politics, they were pretty bad at it.
Except that was done at the Chancellor’s request - Qui-Gon and ObiWan were sent by the Jedi Council, true but without the Republic request it wouldn’t have happened.
There is the view that the Jedi shouldn’t have backed the Republic to the degree they did, that they should have just been pure monks, but that would have meant doing nothing for Naboo. It’s an interesting question of what would the Jedi have done if there hadn’t been that request? Left the Naboo to be occupied by the Trade Federation? Which would certainly still give a certain figure ammo to use.
The Jedi have a really bad weakness - they care about others as far as they can and it’s one that Sidious exploits ruthlessly - first the Naboo then the Clone Wars. Yes, they could have stayed out of all of it but that would mean letting billions die.
The Jedi’s biggest failing in the PT is Anakin, there they really had scope to actually do other than they did and had they done so it would have made a major difference. Everything else? They were rats in a maze crafted for them, choosing from already compromised options set in place ahead of time.
But that’s only if you accept that Palpatine is this master manipulator who you couldn’t ever see coming.
Plenty of people voice concerns about him throughout the three movies, it’s just that no-one ever acts on it effectively. I think that’s a much more believable angle (I’m sure we can all think of some real-world parallels) and makes for a more sinister story than just making Palpatine some inevitable, unstoppable figure of evil.
The way I look at it is Palpatine conned the galaxy into handing over its soul willingly. If you like, one lesson of the PT is don’t wait for some magical saviour to come along, do the job yourself! Though, where the PT is concerned, the game is always played with a deck stacked in Palpatine’s favour.
Er, I don’t really recommend doing that, it gets awfully, awfully messy. Like Preacher’s entrails fight messy.
Except, across the six films, he pretty much is - only being undone at the end of Jedi by his own arrogance, if he’d just deep-fried Luke instantly Vader wouldn’t have turned on him.
(And it can be argued the mess the galaxy is in across 7-8 is attributable to the Empire and the circumstances of its birth.)