Thursday, May 10, 2018

Qi'ra and Vos Part Ways in 'Lieutenant' TV Spot

The Solo content just won't stop coming. Following the slew of clips released over the past two days and ahead of tonight's premiere, they've dropped another TV spot—and it might be the best one yet. 
There's a lot of cool new footage here (maybe they had been saving it for later in the marketing campaign?) and we're breaking it all down:
  • Dryden Vos introduces Qi'ra as his "top lieutenant"...and then we see her sliding to the floor in a supermodel pose as she blocks his vibro-weapon with some kind of forked sword. This could be a friendly training session, but there's broken glass on the ground and we know Vos attacks Han with the same weapon, so it looks like she's jumped in to save her man and betray Vos.
  • "Alright people, do not improvise," Beckett says. "What's the plan?" Val asks in a trench on Mimban. It sure took a while but they're finally putting her in the TV spots and treating her like a real character. It looks like her and Beckett's heist (which Han has joined) has been disrupted by some kind of firefight.
  • Val whips out a blaster pistol and opens fire while holding on to the Conveyex's rail structure. An unofficial clip from yesterday showed her planting charges on the rail and then warning Beckett of the Cloud-Riders' arrival, so she must be shooting at them. Unfortunately, we've seen no footage of her later in the movie (during the battle on Kessel or the Kessel Run itself), so she may not survive this...
  • Han, Lando, and Beckett fight together on Kessel. Lando's pose really makes them look like a boy band. Beckett's armor and cape must be part of his disguise; we've already seen evidence that their caper involves Qi'ra dressing in her own cape and Han and Chewie in chains with Lando posing as their captor with his Return of the Jedi Jabba's Palace armor on.
  • "When have I ever steered you wrong?" Han asks Qi'ra. Chewie growls disapprovingly, but Han tells her not to listen to him. What's really interesting is that even though we're all assuming a romantic attraction between them, there's very little hard proof they're linked in that way. This supports a crazy theory that Qi'ra is actually his sister.
What did you think of this TV spot? What would be the name of the Kessel Run's (the canonical name of Han, Lando, and Beckett's boy band) first single? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @sithobserver, and may the Force be with you all.

New 'Solo' Clip Debunks Major Enfys Nest Theory

Alden Ehrenreich appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last night and brought with him a clip of his sandy standoff with Enfys Nest, a scene that's been teased in a lot of the trailers and TV spots. Han threatens to summon "30 hired guns" from the Falcon to surround Nest and her Cloud-Riders, but the ship's pilot – probably Lando – takes off instead. 
But the most interesting part of this clip is a smaller detail: for the first time, Qi'ra and Nest are visible in the same frame, meaning we can forget that theory about them being the same person. Yes, it's possible Qi'ra's using a body double to fool them – that's exactly what Padmé did in The Phantom Menace – but when you add this to Star Wars News Net's prior debunking, it seems like this theory is dead. 

However, Nest's identity is still very much a mystery. Her voice is clearly being modified by her helmet, and the way Lucasfilm has avoided describing her gender suggests that her femininity is a major plot point. A short clip from a Thandie Newton interview yesterday had Val seemingly describing Nest with male pronouns, confirming that the characters think she's a man (and that Val isn't Nest, either). 
And we can't rule out Qi'ra being a villain either. All the promotion for the movie has described her as smart, dangerous, secretive, and just complicated overall. One of the clips from yesterday even confirmed that she's working for Dryden Vos, who's being promoted as the movie's primary villain.

As someone who's been (semi-ironically) pushing this theory on Twitter for over a month now, this is a bit of a letdown. But hey, Fallon also has a new clip of droid rights icon L3-37 telling Han to move his "presumptuous ass" and mocking Lando for flirting with him, so maybe things aren't so bad after all. 

UPDATE: Star Wars on YouTube released an official HD version of the Enfys Nest clip with an extended portion at the beginning. There's no new dialogue but the soundtrack sounds inspired by Middle-Eastern music and it's phenomenal. 

Who do you think is Enfys Nest? L3 is gonna steal this whole movie, right? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @sithobserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Four 'Solo' Clips Released

Solo's premiere is tomorrow (with social media reactions available at 12:30 AM EST on Friday and full reviews at 5 PM on May 15) and the press tour has kicked into high gear. A total of four clips were released today on different platforms.

First, Woody Harrelson appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night and debuted a clip of Tobias Beckett and Thandie Newton's Val meeting Han Solo...and they're not exactly happy to make his acquaintance.

This clip does a great job of showing how Alden Ehrenreich has captured Han's charm and confidence. It's also a showcase for Val, who's had a frustratingly limited presence in the marketing so far (despite Newton's ongoing starring role in Westworld and the fact that she's the first major visible black woman in a Star Wars movie). The databank teased she is not someone to mess with, and this clip confirms that homicide is second nature to her.

Val mentions a pilot and when they turn around to face Han, in the upper left corner you can spot the same E-shaped ship we've seen Han flying during the Conveyex train heist on Vandor. It seems like their mission is to hijack this ship because it's crucial to stealing the Conveyex's cargo, whatever that may be. 

The Star Wars YouTube channel dropped two clips, the first one being Han and Lando's first encounter at the sabacc table. We've seen quite a bit of this already, but one new bit is Han acknowledging that Lando pronounces his name wrong—a questions fans have been having for decades.
The second one is a clip of Beckett and Chewie playing holochess. There's a funny bit with Chewie getting angry at the board, but the interesting part comes in Beckett's advice to him and Han: "All you gotta do is think a few moves ahead, anticipate your opponent. There's a lesson to be learned here." It definitely seems like this lesson will come in use later in the movie. Maybe Han will end up thwarting Beckett's attempt to betray him and spitting these words back in his face...

The fourth clip is one of the most intriguing ones, revealed by Breakfast Television Toronto. In Dryden Vos' bustling lair, he introduces himself to Han and describes Qi'ra as his "top lieutenant." We knew she was involved with him somehow, but this confirms that she's his right hand woman—a job title that apparently involves lots of flirty touching.
Obviously there's a good chance that Qi'ra will turn on him at some point. We've already seen glimpses of Vos attacking Han with vibroblade brass knuckles and a TV spot on Monday revealed Qi'ra brandishing a sword in the same room, so it looks like some kind of small action sequence will occur here.

What do you think of these clips? What do you think will happen on Mimban? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @sithobserver, and may the Force be with you all.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Please, Lucasfilm, Don't Make 'Solo' Sequels

Solo: A Star Wars Story is only three weeks away at this point (with its Cannes premiere on May 15), but the talk of sequels has already begun. In an interview with Esquire, Alden Ehrenreich confirmed that he's signed on for two more movies as Han Solo; director Ron Howard told Fandango that sequels are a possibility if the movie is a hit; and Star Wars News Net has reported multiple times that more Solo movies are on the table.
The consensus is that if the movie is a critical and commercial success, Lucasfilm is ready to make sequels. Over the past few days, it's become clear that at least half of that goal will be met. Variety and THR both estimated that Solo is tracking for a record-breaking, Rogue One-beating, $160 million-plus opening weekend, and its advanced ticket sales doubled Black Panther's and were the second highest of 2018, behind Avengers: Infinity War.

How audiences respond to the movie is a whole other issue, but if it really is a huge financial success, the opinion of fans won't matter as much when Lucasfilm decides whether to greenlight a sequel. (Just look at the Avatar 2, 3, 4, and 5.) And by the tradition of Star Wars trilogies, that one sequel would turn into two, meaning that Lucasfilm would spend the next four years or so making Han Solo movies.
Yes, Solo looks fun, and there are certainly more stories that could be told with its characters. But the inherent problem with making sequels is that since Solo wasn't originally conceived as the first in a trilogy, it must already give Han a conclusive arc that lines up with his introduction in A New Hope. Whatever arc the sequels gave him would just end in the same place; there's no need for them to continue his story and add more to his character.
The entire message of The Last Jedi was to stop focusing on the past – specifically, old characters – and accept the new generation of heroes. It's weird enough to immediately follow that with Solo, but to make a whole trilogy about that, when the same resources could instead be devoted to new stories about new characters? 

Perhaps the only exception to this would be a Lando spinoff. Donald Glover's portrayal is indisputably the most anticipated part of the movie, and since the Sequel Trilogy has given him no attention whatsoever, there's quite a bit more to learn about him. More importantly, this would also be the first Star Wars movie led by a person of color—the first ever character of color in Star Wars, no less. 
Again, none of this is to say that Solo will be bad, or even that its sequels would be bad. But the beauty of the Star Wars trilogies is that they're envisioned from the start as a three-part story; making a standalone movie and then deciding to make two sequels because it made a lot of money and/or people liked it is not the way Star Wars should work.

As lovable as these characters are, the future of Star Wars should not be Han and Chewie. It should be Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren – the stars of Episode IX, who prove that new characters can be just as adored as old ones – as well as new faces in new corners of the galaxy that Rian Johnson, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (ugh), and other filmmakers create. 
And yes, obviously Lucasfilm can make Solo sequels and new stories at the same time – they already did that with The Force Awakens, Rogue One, The Last Jedi, and Solo – but they need to stop relying on familiar faces, especially ones that have already received so much attention. We don't love Star Wars just for the characters, we love it for the wonder and the epic scale, and Han and Chewie in the Falcon is by no means the only way to reach that.

Do you think there should be Solo sequels? How big of a hit do you think the movie will be? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

'Forces of Destiny' Season 2 Part 2 Review

In honor of Star Wars Day, Forces of Destiny has released seven new shorts. We're reviewing each of them:

"Monster Misunderstanding"
Padmé finally has a short of her own! We finally get to see her take charge of a situation and solve a problem on her own, without the help of Ahsoka or Anakin. The Naboo setting of this episode is also pretty neat, though as usual, Forces of Destiny goes out of its away to humanize the big, scary monster instead of just letting it be a big, scary monster for Padmé to defeat. 

"A Disarming Lesson"
Rebels-era Ahsoka is in Forces of Destiny! And she's...kinda mean. Like, she actually sounds like a Sith at a few points. But still, this is a cool short that further develops her relationship with Ezra—one that may have a key role in the future of Star Wars.

"Perilous Pursuit"
This short adapts one of The Force Awakens' deleted scenes. It's another fun Rey/Finn adventure that lets them figure out something we've known since their first flight on the Falcon: Rey is better at flying, and Finn is better at shooting. Episode IX has a lot of ground to cover, but let's hope it gives us another teamup chase sequence with these two.

"Traps and Tribulations"
Forget Ahsoka and Ezra, forget Rey and Finn, we're now dealing with the most important Star Wars duo: the Skywalker twins. The monster they're facing is more than a little bizarre and cheesy, but both of them get their own cool moments in this short, with the highlight being Luke tossing Leia his lightsaber (mirroring a Reylo moment from The Last Jedi). No surprise, Leia's a natural with it.

This short expands another relationship that's fundamental to Star Wars: Chewie and the porgs. If you ever wondered what he was doing during Rey's lessons on Ahch-To, it turns out he was befriending the pesky birds and gathering some blue moss for their nest. Spoiler alert: it's really, really cute.

"Art History" 
If you ever thought Forces of Destiny could use more Mandalore, here you go. The action in this short leaves something to be desired, but its themes are perfectly in line with what Sabine has been teaching us for years: beyond Mandalore's violence and war lies a rich culture and community based on mutual respect and honor. 

"Chopper and Friends"
The title sounds like this is another cute short with little substance, but it actually has some pretty fun action as the Ewoks struggle to man the Ghost's gunner positions. Taking a classic Star Wars creature and putting it in a new and amusing situation is just another example of how Forces of Destiny can tell fresh, entertaining stories.

With this batch of episodes, Forces of Destiny has (mostly) moved past the repetition and dullness that plagued its previous shorts. There's still some room to grow, but if they want to keep on churning out a handful of episodes every couple of months and dropping them on YouTube with little warning, they should go right ahead.

What did you think of these shorts? Where do you hope Forces of Destiny goes next? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the fourth be with you all.

'Solo' Celebrates 'Star Wars' Day with New Clips and Ticket Sales

It's Star Wars Day! And unlike previous years, there's actually a Star Wars movie coming out soon enough to take advantage of the occasion. Solo began its advanced ticket sales at midnight today, releasing an awesome new 360º clip of Han and Lando's first encounter at the same time.
A lot of this has already been revealed in trailers and TV spots, but if you want to see more of Han and Lando flirting and a much closer look at all the other weird aliens playing sabacc with them, it's worth a watch or two. 

Late last night Ron Howard also appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and debuted the first clip from the movie. A lot of it is footage from the Kessel Run sequence that we've seen before, but there's at least one really exciting new element: riveting notes from "The Asteroid Field," one of the most underrated Star Wars musical themes that we first heard in The Empire Strikes Back.
This clip also seems to show the moment that Chewie officially becomes Han's co-pilot. Qi'ra (whose dialogue in this scene is more than a little clunky) gives him her seat and then leaves the cockpit to "help Lando," suggesting that he (and L3-37?) are working on another project in a different part of the ship. 

Check back later today for a review of the seven new Forces of Destiny shorts to commemorate Star Wars Day. What did you think of these clips? Do you have your Solo tickets yet? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @sithobserver, and may the fourth be with you all.