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Monday, April 23, 2018

The Gang Assembles in 'Solo' Character Posters

Solo: A Star Wars Story continued its marketing efforts today with nine new character posters of Han, Qi'ra, Lando, Chewie, Beckett, Val, Dryden Vos, L3-37, and Rio Durant (Jon Favreau's alien character). The posters continue the film's orange color scheme, with the Falcon cockpit pattern in the background.
Again, they're mostly just relying on the same character poses from previous posters, without really giving us anything interesting or new. And it's just inexcusable that they don't list Joonas Suotamo's name with Chewbacca. (What's especially frustrating is that Favreau's name is paired with his character, even though he wasn't credited anywhere on the theatrical poster and Suotamo was.)

Meanwhile, the UK posters have at least been switching things up. The theatrical poster (released on Twitter a few days ago) uses a lot of new character art, a different color scheme, and overall just a more Drew Stuzan-esque Star Wars style:
Though this is preferable to the sickeningly orange-filtered US theatrical poster, these five new character posters make it clear that the UK batch still suffers from poor photoshop: 
Another day, another awkward moment in Solo's marketing. 

What do you think of all these posters? Do you prefer the US or UK versions? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @sithobserver, and may the Force be with you all. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

'Star Wars' Has a Black Female Director Now

Sometimes, just sometimes, we get announcements about new Star Wars filmmakers that are actually exciting, progressive, and historic. (By sometimes, I mean this is pretty much the first time.) Today Ava DuVernay shared on Twitter that the second unit director for Episode IX will be Victoria Mahoney, making her the first black woman (and the first woman, period) to direct a Star Wars story.
Mahoney has previously directed the indie film Yelling to the Sky and episodes of TV shows like Grey's Anatomy, American Crime, Seven Seconds, and others. She confirmed this news on her own Twitter, thanking DuVernay for connecting her to Lucasfilm and JJ Abrams for inviting her to join his film. 
Though Mahoney's position will be secondary to JJ Abrams, this is still a big step forward for women, people of color, and especially women of color joining the Lucasfilm family in the future. Sooner or later they'll be directing Star Wars movies of their own.

What do you think of this announcement? What other up-and-coming directors do you hope join Star Wars projects in the future? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Han and Lando Won't Stop Flirting in 'Risk' TV Spot

If you thought the Solo marketing train was gonna give us a few days of rest, you were wrong. A second TV spot dropped today, this time focusing on Han and Lando's relationship, as well as the team-building and "trust no one" aspect of the movie. 
A breakdown of all the new footage:
  1. A new shot of Beckett, Chewie, and Han in an elevator. It looks like this is their entrance into the fancy club where they meet Dryden Vos.
  2. Han, Beckett, Qi'ra, and Chewie walking into a ramshackle settlement in the middle of a desert. We know Han has a Western-style showdown with Enfys Nest in the same place (or a very similar one).
  3. "What are you doing with hairy and the boy?" Lando asks Qi'ra, providing us with the only canonical nickname for Han and Chewie that we ever needed. This also gives us some insight into Lando and Qi'ra's relationship—maybe in the past she's fooled around with him, too?
  4. Qi'ra tells Lando they need a ship. "The Millennium Falcon. Every ship isn't for everyone. She needs a particular type of pilot," Lando tells Han over their game of Sabacc. Judging by how pristine the ship looks to be under Lando's care, and how filthy it gets after a few years with Han, we can guess Han isn't the pilot Lando has in mind.
  5. "You done flirting?" L3-37 asks Lando, probably after his "Might wanna buckle up, baby" line from the trailer. It's nice to see a character actually recognize that Lando is a bisexual icon who likes to flirt with Han.
  6. "These people are not you friends," Beckett tells Han in the club, as we see sneaky Qi'ra eavesdropping on someone. Listen to him, Han! Qi'ra's not your friend! She might be Enfys Nest!
  7. "Han!" Lando calls, before tossing him his blaster pistol during a firefight outside the Falcon. Friends who fight together, stay together. (Oh wait, Lando's kind of a crappy friend who betrays Han at least once. But that's okay, Chewie is the only bro he needs.)
What did you think of this TV spot? How much do you love Han and Lando's flirting? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @sithobserver, and may the Force be with you all. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

First 'Solo' TV Spot Delivers More Han and Chewie Goodness

The first Solo TV spot landed today, proving that the film's marketing is not slowing down after blasting off last week. Soundtracked by AWOLNATION's "Run" – making it the first time Star Wars has used contemporary music in its marketing – the 45-second ad highlights the relationship between Han Solo and Chewbacca.
After some new footage of Han and Chewie firing at range troopers atop the Conveyex train, we get to see a critical early moment in their friendship. "So what's your name, anyway?" Han asks (implying they've already spent some time together), and Chewie predictably growls in response. Since Han seems to already know Shyriiwook, the Wookiee language, we can assume he'll somehow be able to translate this to "Chewbacca."
A little later, we get another funny exchange between them in the Falcon's cockpit. "You think everything sounds like a bad idea," Han says, and Chewie seems to growl in agreement. And the TV spot ends with an absolutely golden Han/Chewie interaction right before the title card: during the game of Sabacc with Lando, Han shows Chewie his cards, and the Wookiee makes a disappointed groan. 
Regardless of whether Han himself is worthy of a movie, it's hard to argue with the idea of 135 minutes dedicated to one of the very best friendships in all of Star Wars. If the rest of the marketing wants to stress that for the next month and 10 days, they should go right ahead.

Other new bits of footage from this TV spot:
  • A very tall ship flying over those snowy mountains. We've previously seen Han, Qi'ra, and Chewie walking towards an identical structure, but on a sandy beach. 
  • Another Han and Chewie shot in the same terrain, with bonus lens flare! The influence of JJ Abrams knows no bounds.
  • A cute interaction between two droids. But neither of them are L3-37, so we don't care.
  • This short little dude firing a missile.
  • A couple new shots of the Sabacc game, including Lando making this face!
What did you think of this TV spot? What do you hope to learn about Han and Chewie's legendary friendship? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @sithobserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

'Solo' Trailer 2 and Poster Breakdown

Solo: A Star Wars Story unveiled its second (and most likely final) trailer tonight during American Idol.
A breakdown of all the new footage:
  1. We open on an industrial city with Star Destroyers being constructed in the sky. This is most likely Corellia, Han's homeworld. Rogue One had similar imagery of a Destroyer looming over Jedha, but it's not as threatening a presence this time. Corellia isn't resisting Imperial rule; they're making a business out of it by building their massive warships.
  2. "You're after something... Is it revenge?" Qi'ra asks. Han faces off with Enfys Nest and her Cloud-Riders in the sand. Once again, Qi'ra's demonstrating a special insight into Han's true self. Knowing the Hero's Journey archetype, we can guess Nest was responsible for the deaths of Han's family. And that's funny, those totally unconfirmed "spoilers" claimed that Qi'ra was the one who killed his family. It's almost...as if...they're the same person...
  3. "Money?" Qi'ra continues. Han swaggers into a gambling den, where Lando Calrissian and various assorted aliens take notice. Han pushes a pile of coins forward. This, of course, is probably the legendary game of Sabacc that wins Han the Millennium Falcon from Lando. 
  4. "Or is it something else?" Qi'ra muses. Han and Chewbacca examine the Falcon. What he's looking for is an adventure, a reputation, a legendary name. Solo, at its very core, is the story of how he gets that. 
  5. "You look good. A little rough around the edges, but good," Qi'ra tells him in a fancy club. They were old friends (and perhaps more) on Corellia, but it seems like it's been a few years since they've seen each other. Qi'ra looks like she joined the galaxy's high society, while Han...maybe got a new jacket?
  6. "I heard about a job. Big shot gangster putting together a crew," Tobias Beckett says. We see Dryden Vos in the same club. This is our first look at Paul Bettany's character, who was originally supposed to be played by Michael Kenneth Williams. He seems to be the man who organizes this gang, though he won't be joining them on the mission itself.
  7. "I'm a driver and I'm a flyer," Han tells an Imperial officer. He looks to be wearing a mudtrooper disguise on the swampy planet of Mimban, where we know an action sequence will take place. 
  8. "I waited a long time for a shot like this," Han tells Val next to a campfire. She inspects a rifle. Beckett kisses a blaster pistol and tosses it to Han. EW told us that Val's skeptical of Han at first, so he must be reassuring her that he's committed to their mission. 
  9. "What do you think?" Han asks Chewie, who growls with a worried tone and shakes his head. "Well, what do you know," Han dismisses him. Poor, poor Chewie. Han's the only one who can understand him (he took Wookiee classes at school?), and he still won't listen to any of his ideas. It's okay, Chewie, we all know you'll outlive him.
  10. "You got a line on a ship?" Beckett asks. "Yeah, I know a guy. He's the best smuggler around," Qi'ra says. Han, Chewie, and Qi'ra walk into a cantina in a snowy terrain. So Qi'ra is the one who first introduces Han and Lando. It looks like the meeting with Lando, the campfire scene, and the train heist (more on that later) are all on the same planet. 
  11. "I heard a story about you, I was wondering if it's true," Han asks Lando across the table. "Everything you heard about me is true," Lando assures him as a droid refills his cup. There's a parallel here between Han's famous line from The Force Awakens: "It's true, all of it." As the best smuggler in the galaxy with the ego to match it, Lando is everything Han wants to be—and will be.
  12. L3-37 shoves a man in the head. "Let go of the mean man's face," Lando tells her. "Who are these guys?" she asks as she regards Han, Chewie, and Qi'ra. It seems like she has the maturity and temper of a child, which is fascinating to see in a droid, much less a female one. 
  13. "If you come with us, you're in this life for good," Beckett says to Han. "Might wanna buckle up baby," Lando tells him in the Falcon's cockpit before jumping to hyperspace. Well, Beckett's not totally right, since we know Han eventually escapes this life and joins the Rebel Alliance. 
  14. Range troopers with magnetic boots shoot at Beckett atop a train. He blasts one of them in the chest. We've seen train heists in movies before, but this one looks especially creative. Freezing temperatures, dizzying heights, hostile range troopers, and we know Nest and the Cloud-Riders have a role in this sequence, too.
  15. "Let me give you some advice: assume everyone will betray you, and you will never be disappointed," Beckett tells Han. We get quick shots of Lando raising a blaster, Qi'ra exiting the Falcon, an Imperial walker dropping on Mimban, and Val firing a grappling hook in the same snowy terrain. Lando has a history of betraying Han and Qi'ra might be the villain of the whole movie. But hey, at least he can count on Chewie.
  16. Chewie has an intimate moment with another Wookiee as lasers whiz by the Falcon. Whoa! The only other time we've seen Chewie on-screen with other Wookiees was Revenge of the Sith. This is either his wife, Malla, or his son, Lumpawaroo, both of whom are canonically separated from him around this time period. But guys, you're in the middle of war zone...maybe not the best time for tender goodbyes?
  17. "I got a really good feeling about this," Han says in the Falcon's cockpit. This is a perfect reversal on that classic Star Wars trope. He's optimistic and naive, maybe because he's yet to be betrayed by his girlfriend Qi'ra, who killed his family, but also helps him out, but also is definitely Enfys Nest in disguise. (No, I'm not giving up on this theory.)
  18. TIE fighters chase off the Falcon. Chewie flips a few switches. "Since when do you know how to fly?" Han asks. Chewie growls in response. "190 years old? You look great!" Han says. "Punch it!" Conveniently, this confirms that the majority of Solo takes place in 10 BBY (10 years before A New Hope), since Chewie was canonically born in 200 BBY. That would put Han at 19 years old. 
  19. The Falcon soars over the sandy outpost. Vos activates vibroblade brass knuckles and lunges at Han in the club. Shots of a huge firefight on Mimban, Chewie throwing someone to the floor, and Qi'ra tossing a grenade. Action! Explosions! Other than the shot of Vos (which indicates he and Han will part ways), this is just kinda typical action movie content. But at least it looks pretty damn cool!
  20. L3 pumps her fist. "So glad we took this job!" At least someone's being optimistic. Or...maybe she's being sarcastic? Either way, L3 is definitely shaping up to be the movie's breakout character. Please feel free to ship her with K-2SO. (But not C-3PO. She would kick his ass.)
  21. Chewie tumbles over the side of the train. Han hangs on to him, but a protruding chunks of rock appears in his path. Nice try, trailer, but we all know Chewie's gonna live. Like, we just saw him in The Last Jedi a few months ago, and he survived that movie without a scratch, too. At least when Lucasfilm teased that kind of major-character-death in the Rogue One trailers, they were able to deliver on it.
Consistency is always a good quality in a movie's marketing, and it's reassuring that this trailer matches the first one in tone. Again, it's a diverse, fun cast of outlaws on a heist mission, with a fair amount of humor mixed in. The only real change here is the whole "Who can you trust?" marketing ploy, which isn't really something we've seen from a Star Wars movie before. 

The film's theatrical poster was also released tonight. Unlike the typical Drew Struzan-type Star Wars posters, with many characters and vehicles cluttered around, this one is a simple lineup of the film's main characters (mostly using bits from poster and promo art we've seen before) with the pattern of the Falcon's cockpit behind them. 
What did you think of this trailer? Which character are you looking forward to the most? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @sithobserver, and may the Force be with you all.