WARNING – Contains SPOILERS
Editor’s Note: Previously published in the May 31, 2018 edition of the Wright County Journal-Press (Minnesota).
This week I’m thrilled that I get to talk to you about one of my favorite franchises, Star Wars. In the words of Han Solo, the intergalactic smuggler himself, let me just say, “I’ve got a good feeling about this.”
I can remember being a kid and seeing Star War for the first time. I was about five years old, and my dad loved the movies. The first one I ever saw was the original 1977 movie, “A New Hope,” and it wasn’t until much later in the early 2000s when the first three movies (I-III) were released that I really knew much of anything outside of the original cast. Some of my fondest memories with my dad were sitting on the couch in footie pajamas, eating popcorn and having juice while watching Star Wars and letting my imagination run wild.
Being the creative kid I was, there were many summers where my brother and I would hop into my dad’s truck, pretend it was the Millennium Falcon, and invent our own “Kessel run” stories with Han and Chewie, along with Luke, Leia, and Ben right behind us. As I got older, we drifted away from Star Wars and it would become a fire that wouldn’t be kindled again until my senior year of college.
I’ve spent the better part of three years studying Star Wars; since December 15 of 2015, right before the latest Star Wars film, “The Force Awakens,” was scheduled to hit screens. With so many spiritual aspects, and with such a strong prevalence of theology riddled into the makings of Star Wars, I have studied Star Wars closely, and sifted through the thematic messages found within the films.
It should be said that when I was a kid, I adored Han Solo. Originally played by Harrison Ford, he was a personal favorite of mine from the ages of six to eight years old – I thought he was it. And, I rekindled my appreciation of Han with the May 25 film, “Solo: a Star Wars Story.”
The film has been quite controversial since it’s production was announced – and if you’re at all involved in the Star Wars community, you would know that this is a very passionate fandom, and that people hold very strong opinions of the series, yours truly included. People in the community were skeptical of how anyone other than Harrison Ford could pull off the “scruffy nerfherder” Han, and how the smuggler’s relationship with Chewie would hold up.
Star Wars is on the path of backstories with its filmmaking at the moment – meaning, they are exploring the histories of our favorite characters. “Solo” really launched the first of the trend, as it went on to explore the history of our favorite intergalactic smuggler and his Wookie companion. It provided a lot of answers that fans have questioned since 1977, while also giving life to some of the illustrious hints of Solo’s career – like, for instance, the infamous “Kessel Run.”
This movie was fun. It was a new spin for Star Wars, as it is primarily a heist movie, highlighting some of Solo’s career-launching gigs that would hyperdrive him into his underworld career. With a stunning cast including Paul Bettany, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clark, and the man himself, Alden Ehrenreich as Han, the movie is wonderfully scripted. The graphics and stunt coordinating is very well done, and I was holding my breath more than one time, while simultaneously wiping my eyes at another.
This film explores the ideals of trust. Multiple times the film discusses the importance of keeping yourself unattached, and Harrelson’s character, Beckett, reminds Han that to stay alive, you have to expect everyone to betray you. Han doesn’t fly that way, however, and invests his full heart into long-time lover Qi’ra, whom he has to ultimately, trust in the worst of circumstances. In the end, however, Han learns a very important lesson – trusting people is a natural part of human instinct, and doesn’t always end up in the red, even after a lifetime of betrayal and hurt.
The plot is action-packed and exciting, and there are plenty of nods to the original series that any true fan would appreciate. A personal favorite part of the film is seeing the origins of Han’s relationship with smooth-talking Lando Calrissian, and how the Millennium Falcon came to be the hyper-drive failing freighter we all know and love.
However, the film does lack the classic themes of Star Wars, and thus, any sort of theological message as a whole. That part is disappointing, but while by far not my favorite Star Wars movie, it’s a good time.
It might be hard to teach your kids the “good versus evil” lesson that seems to come so naturally in the franchise in this film, but you can have a good talk on trust – and, maybe, what makes a true hero.
Since the age of five, Miriam has aspired to write swashbuckling adventures for all walks of life, and she is currently pursuing the world as a journalist and co-editor of a small-town, Minnesota newspaper. Miriam has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Christian Study from Crown College (St. Bonifacius, Minn.) and has been avidly studying the theological principles of Star Wars since 2015. When not at the office or chasing down news, she can found in her writing den, in front of a movie, or simply enjoying coffee.