Solo: A Star Wars Story Has Lots to Show, Nothing to Say

Solo: A Star Wars Story Has Lots to Show, Nothing to Say

Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca in Solo: A Star Wars Story

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Solo: A Star Wars Story is out in theatres
  • It’s set before the events of 1977’s Star Wars
  • Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke star in Solo

Last year, George R.R. Martin – the author of A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels that have been adapted at HBO – said that of the several Game of Thrones spin-off ideas in development, not even one touched upon the period immediately prior to the current saga. “There would be no surprises or revelations left in such a show, just the acting out of conflicts whose resolutions you already know,” he added. Instead, Martin wants them to show parts of his universe that haven’t already been talked about.

On the other hand, the powers that-be at Lucasfilm – under Disney’s ownership – are more than happy to take the safer route and expand on events and characters we already know about, as it guarantees a financial windfall by drawing most if not all existing fans of the franchise. Partly thanks to Harrison Ford, Han Solo is one of the most famous characters in pop culture, let alone Star Wars. Telling his origin story, as the new standalone Star Wars film – Solo, out May 25 worldwide – does, is the definition of low-hanging fruit.

What makes that problem worse is that even before it starts, the big pieces of the puzzle are already in place. Owing to the original trilogy – now retroactively titled Episode IV, V and VI – that ran from 1977-1983, we know Han will meet Chewbacca, the two will then encounter Lando Calrissian, from whom Han will win the Millennium Falcon in a bet, with which he’ll make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. That’s not a lot of room to create a meaningful story – written by Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan – in addition to the fact there’s no stakes for our heroes.

 

On top of that, Solo: A Star Wars Story is also dealing with a limited arc for a young Han, since he has to end up as the cocky and overpromising guy Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi meet in the Mos Eisley cantina. And that means the film can’t attribute qualities to him that you wouldn’t normally associate with him, even though he’s about a decade younger in this than in the original trilogy. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t try; Solo has moments where it pokes fun at his ill-advised bravado, but it’s still filling in the portrait of a guy who thinks he can do everything himself.

Solo: A Star Wars Story begins by introducing the pair of Han (Alden Ehrenreich, from Hail, Caesar!) and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke, from Game of Thrones) on their homeworld of Corellia, who are in love and languishing in slum-like conditions. Years later, Han enlists in the Imperial forces, meets a criminal of dubious morals named Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson, from War for the Planet of the Apes), and then takes on a job for crime lord Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany, from Avengers: Infinity War). That sets Soloin motion and brings other characters into the picture.

What unfolds from there is a part heist and part Western film, as Han and Co. go about achieving their mission – it involves stealing something ultra-valuable and getting it somewhere else as quickly as possible – while making new friends and new enemies along the way. The former involves Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), the captain and original owner of the Millennium Falcon, and his first mate, a hilarious and outspoken droid called L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, from Fleabag). There are bit part roles for Westworld’s Thandie Newton and director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) as well.

solo star wars lando calrissian Solo A Star Wars Story

Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story
Photo Credit: Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm

 

Like the previous standalone chapter Rogue One, there’s nothing about the Jedi and lightsabers here, and even less about the Empire or the Force. Similarly, all the new characters Solo: A Star Wars Story introduces are ultimately dispensable too, since none of them can show up in later entries. But unlike Rogue One, the film, seemingly with an eye on potential sequels – Ehrenreich has a three-picture deal in his contract – creates subplots that aren’t tied up properly by the end. It’s here that Solo even connects to the prequel trilogy from 1999-2005.

Unfortunately, there’s little justification for a second visit, when the first is rather unimaginative. Save for a few scattered moments, the film doesn’t grab you until an hour in. And though it’s got the makings of some unique action set-pieces, they aren’t handled in a way that would make them memorable. Even when the Millennium Falcon is being attacked by TIE fighters late-game, there’s no sense of the excitement that was apparent in J.J. Abrams’ 2015 soft reboot The Force Awakens, and Rian Johnson’s 2017 follow-up The Last Jedi.

Part of this stems from the botched handling of the production. The original directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie), were fired over four months into filming, after clashing with Lucasfilm execs including Kasdan over their directorial approach. They thought they were hired to bring their comedic flavour to Star Wars, but their heavy improvisational technique – the duo sometimes shot a dozen takes that weren’t always in line with what the script said – didn’t sit well with Kasdan, and they were replaced by Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind), who’s seen as a safe choice.

It’s a testament to Howard’s experience that he not only managed to keep the film on track for its scheduled release, but that Solo: A Star Wars Story feels cohesive despite being the product of two entirely different visions: according to a behind-the-scenes report, 70 percent of the finished film is Howard’s, with the rest being the work of Lord and Miller. But because Howard was hired last minute to simply bring the script to life, the film lacks an authoritative touch and ends up feeling like a by-the-numbers bland heist film.

solo star wars qira Solo A Star Wars Story

Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra in Solo: A Star Wars Story
Photo Credit: Lucasfilm

 

Moreover, less than six months after Star Wars took some of its boldest steps courtesy Johnson – including a welcome dressing down of why trigger-happy hotshots can cause more harm than good – Solo is happy to play it easy. A few unexpected twists towards the end, and the work of its top-notch cast – Waller-Bridge is excellent and powers some of the film’s best moments, Glover is instantly charismatic and a scene-stealer as the trailers promised, and Clarke lands the note she’s asked to play, that of an intriguing yet enigmatic female lead – simply aren’t enough.

Despite how damning the preceding paragraphs may sound, Solo isn’t a bad movie per se. It’s just fine. The film will help buff up the encyclopaedia pages in a certain period, give Disney another chance to sell more Star Wars merchandise, and lays the groundwork for sequels leading up to Episode IV – A New Hope (“Star Wars” for the purists). But it never takes off in a fashion that would please its titular hero – John Williams’ iconic soundtrack is also on a leash for the longest time, unfortunately – mainly because it’s too predictable to make any wild manoeuvres.

We’ll never know what Lord and Miller would’ve done with Solo: A Star Wars Story, even as the underlying story would’ve been the same. It’s also possible their version would have been horrible, and that Lucasfilm was right in removing them before it was too late. But if Star Wars is going to keep swinging the pendulum back even as its world expands – reports abound of more standalone chapters with Obi-Wan and others, alongside all-new stories from Johnson, Favreau, and Game of Thrones creators – the least it can do is not be borderline cynical about it.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

CBSE has no role in deciding eligibility criteria for NEET

The CBSE clarification came following several complaints about barring open school candidates and those with biology as an additional subject in Class 12 from appearing for NEET. Photo: Mint

The CBSE clarification came following several complaints about barring open school candidates and those with biology as an additional subject in Class 12 from appearing for NEET. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: The CBSE has clarified that it has no role in deciding eligibility criteria for medical entrance exam, NEET, and grievances, if any, should be submitted to the Medical Council of India (MCI).

The clarification came following several complaints received by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) about barring open school candidates and those with biology as an additional subject in Class 12 from appearing for the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET).

“The responsibility of CBSE is limited to holding the NEET (UG) examination, based on the eligibility criteria provided by MCI. CBSE has no role to play in deciding the eligibility conditions,” the board said in an advisory.

Students who have pursued schooling through National Institute of Open Learning (NIOS)/ State Open School or those who studied biology or biotechnology as an additional subject in Class 12 are ineligible to appear in NEET.

“Therefore, all the grievances received by CBSE on these issues are disposed of. Candidates are requested to kindly read the information bulletin and FAQs hosted on NEET website before sending grievance to the board in any form,” it added.

This year, NEET will be held on 6 May. Online application process began on 8 February and 9 March is the last date to register. The last date for successful payment of fee online is 10 March till 11.50pm.

[“Source-livemint”]

Tencent Sees Profit on Smartphone Games, WeChat Now Has 980 Million Users

Tencent Sees Profit on Smartphone Games, WeChat Now Has 980 Million Users

Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd on Wednesday posted a 69 percent jump in quarterly net profit, beating expectations, on strong smartphone games revenue.

Net profit for the three months ended September rose to CNY 18 billion ($2.72 billion), China’s largest social media and gaming company said in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

This was above an average estimate of CNY 15.18 billion from six analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

Revenue rose 61 percent to 65 billion yuan, against an estimate of CNY 60.78 billion.

Monthly active users of the social media mobile app WeChat hit 980 million, up from 963 million three months ago.

Revenue from smartphone games, helped by its popular title Honour of Kings, grew by 84 percent to CNY 18.2 billion in the quarter, Tencent said in the filing.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

Aziz Ansari has great advice for people in creative slumps

A palette of paints is shown at Chelsea Restoration Associates, Inc. Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009 in New York.

Learning to accept uninspired periods in our lives is critical to future success. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

When you’re a creatively successful person, people always want to know what you’re working on. The problem is that sometimes the answer is: Nothing much.

Actor and filmmaker Aziz Ansari recently offered a refreshing take on the pressure that creative types feel to produce. In an interview with GQ‘s Mark Anthony, he explains that he’s not feeling particularly inspired right now—and he’s trying to be all right with that. He says:

“I’m not gonna make stuff just for the sake of making stuff. I want to make stuff ’cause I’m inspired. Right now I don’t really feel inspired …

… I hope more people get very successful and then quit. Shouldn’t that be the game? That you make a bunch of money and just move to Italy and live a quiet life? No one does it! You do a bunch of shit and you just want to do more shit. Tom Cruise! Look at that guy! He will not stop. He’s still making these fucking movies. No one who does what I do—or anywhere related in my world—is ever like, I’m done.That’s why I travel so much. I always think about this thing someone once told me. They said, Patterns are the work of the devil. For some reason that stuck in my head.”

Of course, Ansari is speaking from a position of tremendous wealth and privilege. Most people don’t have the option of quitting work and embracing the European lifestyle of our choice. But his skepticism about the idea that successful professionals must always be creating is a useful thing for all of us to consider—because it uproots a very common misunderstanding about creativity.

No one, including the most acclaimed artist, is always inspired, says Scott Barry Kaufman, scientific director of the Imagination Institute in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. What’s more, learning to accept uninspired periods in our lives is critical to future success.

“Creativity isn’t a singular personality trait,” says Kaufman. “It’s a way of being that requires being constantly open to spotting and engaging in new ideas and experiences, without the expectation that these experiences will lead to inspiration or immediate creative outcome.”

The most common characteristics of people across all creative fields, as Kaufman previously explained in Quartz, include “an openness to one’s inner life; a preference for complexity and ambiguity; an unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray; the ability to extract order from chaos; independence; unconventionality; and a willingness to take risks.” All of these characteristics suggest that true creativity is born out of a drive to relish—or, in Ansari’s case, “chill”—in the unknown.

Acknowledging when the process is not going well can be the difference between a forced (and failed) creative endeavor, and an opportunity for learning and resetting, says Kaufman. This is a reality that prolific creators like Lena Dunham, writer and star of the six-season HBO series Girls, have long internalized:

To become more creative, you should be actively trying to find meaning in things that aren’t going as expected or desired, says Kauffman. “Creativity emerges when you are open to detours, not when you approach life, or a job, or an single experience with a set goal in mind.” Only on such detours—like Ansari’s seemingly aimless travel, or a Saturday spent meandering around your neighborhood—can you recognize the paradoxes worth reconciling and the subtleties overlooked by those too busy, or “inspired” to slow down.

[“Source-qz”]