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Five Reasons Why Solo Flies So Low

June 6, 2018

solo-official-poster-691x1024.jpgSo I finally saw Solo, and… I finally saw Solo. Yeah. I mean, it was okay, but I had a few problems with it.

1) Alden Ehrenreich is no Harrison Ford. He’s more like Hayden Christensen. (Remember him? I barely do either. I had to Google him to spell his name correctly.)

2) Donald Glover is better than Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, but he’s not in it enough. He comes in late, then leaves for too long before finally returning. How about a solo Lando movie?

3) The movie is too dark. I don’t mean tonally — I mean literally dark. Maybe it was just the crappy projection at my local theater, but I could barely tell what was going on in certain scenes. Not that I really cared. The whole movie looked brown and gray to me, not like the vivid colors I associate with the original 1977 movie (or even later characters like Darth Maul).

4) There is no consistent tone. Perhaps that’s what happens when you switch directors in mid-flight from the subversively witty Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street) to the study, workmanlike Ron Howard (Apollo 13).

5) Just like I’m burned out on superhero movies, I’m tired of films set on faraway planets. Realism is my guiding aesthetic as a movie critic, so I easily lose interest once characters blast off in outer space. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find films playing near me that take place on planet Earth. In fact, I had to cross state lines and go to Connecticut, where I recently attended the Greenwich International Film Festival, to see stories about real people without superpowers who live in the same universe that I do.

Two of these were documentaries — a genre I’m enjoying more and more. I moderated a Q&A with writer Samuel Maslon after a screening of Sammy Davis, Jr. : I’ve Gotta Be Me, an enlightening profile of the groundbreaking Rat Pack member that will air in February on PBS’ American Masters. I also attended a Saturday-morning screening of Half the Picture, an eye-opening exposé about the lack of female directors in Hollywood. Too bad there was only one other dude in the audience, but I came away feeling more strongly than ever that diverse filmmakers would bring better films from fresher perspectives.

I also saw two narrative features that blew me away. Director Yen Tan’s 1985 is a simple, spare story — shot beautifully on black-and-white film — of a young man (Cory Michael Smith) who returns to his small-town Texas home during the onset of the AIDS crisis and tries to come out to his fundamentalist parents (Virginia Madsen and Michael Chiklis, both superb). And director Debra Granik builds on the promise of her breakout Winter’s Bone with her remarkable follow-up film, Leave No Trace, the heartbreaking tale of a veteran (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) who are forced out of living in the Oregon woods by well-meaning but misguided authorities.

Gorgeously photographed in very different ways, 1985 and Leave No Trace leave searing marks on your heart. Solo, on the other hand, just left me feeling numb.

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One Comment
  1. Arnold Jones permalink

    Totally agree.

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