Endings are hard. This we know.
Lost. Battlestar Galactica. Game of Thrones. The Sopranos. The Matrix trilogy. The first Star Wars trilogy. The prequel Star Wars trilogy. The list is endless. The question is always the same: "Can they stick the landing?" Invariably, the reception is mixed, although some receptions are more mixed than others. (Does that even make sense? Who cares?)
The Rise of Skywalker had the pressure to not only resolve a trilogy, but three trilogies. What I’ve learned over the years is when it comes to any long-standing work of pop entertainment, the creators have an almost impossible job, because they can’t please everyone. The reality is that we all find it fun to imagine our version of the final chapter of a movie or TV series. But the creators have the responsibility of having to actually make a choice and do something. They can’t do everything. And their choices will not please everyone.
My long-delayed review of this movie is not likely to please everyone, either. Or maybe anyone. Like my Star Trek Into Darkness review, I feel like I’m alone in the wildnerness by not hating this movie, and actually sort of liking it.
The first teaser trailer for Episode IX has dropped. Discuss it here!
There’s nothing wrong with Solo: A Star Wars Story, except maybe that it comes across as completely and totally routine. It plays everything safe. Nothing really unexpected happens here. This is a competent, entertaining, well-paced and reasonably plotted space adventure. It is not bold or inventive or subversive or anything else. As so-called Star Wars "anthology movies" go (all two of them), this is a step down from Rogue One in terms of vision and ambition, even if it is inherently more fun. This is comfort food, plain and simple.
The original directors of the film, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, helmed The Lego Movie, which was inventive and subversive. They were fired well into production of Solo under the catch-all Hollywood headline of "creative differences." Franchise torch-bearer Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan — among the most grizzled Star Wars veterans still in the game — apparently did not agree with the style of the young whippersnappers.
Enter Ron Howard, who came in to replace Lord and Miller. Howard delivers a straightforward Star Wars action-adventure that fits right into this universe. He disappears as a hired pro. Aside from the obligatory cameo by his brother Clint, you wouldn’t even know he was there. John Williams is notably absent (aside from lifting key themes from Williams’ past compositions, John Powell’s score doesn’t sound as Williams-esque as Michael Giacchino’s work in Rogue One), but this movie otherwise feels like all the rest.
I didn’t set out to post my long-delayed review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi on May the Fourth. It actually was a complete coincidence. But I’ll take the coincidence in the spirit of appropriate fun nonetheless.
What is most striking about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is that it has larger themes and aspirations that venture outside the space opera roots typically explored in this franchise. In that regard, it goes above and beyond perhaps any Star Wars movie to date and, in its very Star Wars way, moves into the thematic realm of — well, Star Trek. And, for that matter, also Battlestar Galactica.
Taken in its broad strokes, this entire film is a series of Star Wars takes on the Kobayashi Maru no-win scenario. It’s not clear until the very end of The Last Jedi, but this entire film is actually about what heroes do when faced with a number of limited options that continues to shrink until there are almost no options at all. These scenarios force impossible decisions that are born from utter desperation, huge individual sacrifices for the greater good, and pyrrhic victories that are crucially symbolic — because otherwise, in practicality, they are crushing defeats.
So, apparently discussions of Quentin Tarantino directing an R-rated Star Trek movie are underway, which is possibly the most unexpected headline I have seen this week, and that’s in a world where Donald Trump is president.
I don’t know what to say at the moment. Does this actually have a chance of happening? Can Tarantino pull something like this off? And what should we make of the fact he wants to hire a screenwriter, which he never does with his films?
This is very strange, very intriguing, and possibly very impossible. I’ve said that Trek can be many things, but can it really be the product of Tarantino’s style?