Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Thandie Newton showcases black Star Wars characters in stellar dress at Cannes

Thandie Newton showcases black Star Wars characters in stellar dress at Cannes

Han first flies the Millennium Falcon! Or how about, "How old is Chewbacca?" These questions will likely be answered in Lando; the only other question now is just who and how many are interested in finding out the answers.

It's sort of a shame movies can't just exist in a vacuum without the added baggage of often troubled productions or studio interference. It seems like that story could be told in what's likely going to be Lando: A Star Wars Story. It sounds like the makings of one of those great stories that will undoubtably tug at the heart strings. I went in wanting to feel invested and engaged, except, after the first 20 minutes, the main objective changed and I was left asking, "So... what am I suppose to be rooting for, again?"

In "Solo" (opening May 25), we follow the progression of Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) from a small-time hood on his home planet of Corellia, with dreams of being a great pilot cruising through the galaxy, to eventually becoming a space pirate. It's a really hard thing to embody the looks, charm, and nuances of the original character played by the iconic, Harrison Ford. The character gets capes, boots, and a nice style of costumes. Unfortunately, I can't say that I did.

The action zips along, with the help of some predictably terrific special effects, but as a whole it feels more functional than exhilarating.

What legendary screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan ("The Empire Strikes Back", "Raiders of the Lost Ark") and his lifelong Lucasfilm-devotee son Jonathan Kasdan ("Freaks and Geeks", "Dawson's Creek") have done is transplanted a long list of heist-movie tropes onto the Star Wars framework- a concept that works well enough but never quite breaks any new ground, narrative-wise.

Han's former girlfriend Qi'ra resurfaces and joins the team, but her story is complicated and her loyalties are divided. "I'm not entirely sure about Emilia Clarke, but that mostly because Qi'ra - who comes back into the movie - is such an unknown quantity".

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And Han also chances across a charismatic dandy-ish smuggler, gambler and flier called Lando Calrissian, a very amusing performance from Donald Glover. If you're looking for the latter, Solo will please you. But I found it purely lovable.

With other characters like Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany, they both played their parts well as Beckett and Dryden Vos, respectively. It's no surprise Newton could fit all of them (multiple times!) on one gown, which features the likenesses of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, John Boyega as Finn, Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu, Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera, and Hugh Quarshie as Captain Panaka.

Solo: A Star Wars Story - 72%.

Of the new characters, the one who truly shines brightest - and damn near steals the show - is the fiercely independent droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), whose acerbic personality and cutting wit is even sharper than Rogue One's K2SO.

Ehrenreich "captures enough of Ford's genial swagger to earn Solo bragging rights", the review affirms - "even if the performance could have benefited from flashing a few fewer winks". It's not enough to hide the obvious ideological problem of willfully retreating to childhood in the face of real-world problems, nor the consolidated efforts of an unwieldy and arch-conservative private company to make said retreat into a national pastime; Solo's best moments are nearly entertaining enough to make you forget about all that.

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