Back in 2012 when George Lucas sold Star Wars to Disney, the fandom went completely bonkers. The realization that there would be new Star Wars movies was incredibly exciting. Then a few years later, J.J. Abrams brought us The Force Awakens. It was an enormous success. Critics liked it, fans loved it. All was well with the world. Not long after Rogue One, the first anthology series came out and it too was a smashing success. Disney was promising new movies every year until the end of time.
Then came The Last Jedi. Director Rian Johnson took the Star Wars Universe in a different direction. He made a different kind of Star Wars movie. He flipped many of the franchise's conventions on their head. For many, like myself, this was a breath of fresh air. While I loved The Force Awakens, it was basically a remake of A New Hope. I’d argue this was needed to reboot the franchise after the disasters that were the Prequels, but too much of that and the series would grow stale real quick. The Last Jedi was far from perfect but I appreciate the attempt to do something different.
Though I was not alone in these feelings, many people differed. A small, but very vocal minority, hated The Last Jedi and accused it of being too progressive, of pushing a Social Justice Warrior-type agenda. They railed against the film and flooded the internet with their negativity. When Solo: A Star Wars Story was announced and as it rolled out, their voices got louder. They promised not to watch it, to boycott all Star Wars movies until their perceived wrongs were righted.
This did have an actual impact on viewership. The film had a disappointing opening weekend. Disney announced it was slowing down the rate of films it would be producing. It should be noted, however, that the film grossed over $300 million, which is a lot of money by almost any standard (except our new blockbuster standards).
I say all of this to simply say I liked Solo: A Star Wars Story. It was a film that wan’t particularly excited about going in. It was a film that really didn’t need to be made. I don’t know anyone who was jonesing for Han Solo's back story. But it was fun, sometimes funny, and exciting, with some of the best action sequences of the entire series. The acting was good and while the whole thing was pretty superfluous, I had a good time watching it. Good enough that I definitely want to add it to my Star Wars Blu-ray collection. And make it my Pick of the Week. As per usual, this Star Wars movie is getting multiple releases from multiple outlets. Best Buy is doing their usual stylish Steelbook, and Target’s exclusive release comes with filmmaker gallery and storybook about the Millennium Falcon. Target also has a set that includes a cute little metal model of the Falcon.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Andrei Rublev (Criterion Collection): Andrei Tarkovsky’s beautiful meditation of the 15th-century Russian painter is a stunning film, but also really long and really slow. It took me about three different nights to watch it all but it was so worth it.
Gotti: John Travolta plays the mob boss in what looks like a ridiculously bad, but oh so fun film.
The Day of the Jackal: Arrow Video brings this 1960s genre classic to Blu-ray. It;s about a professional assassin plotting to kill Charles de Gaulle, the President of France.
Exorcist II: The Heretic: John Boorman had the difficult task of making a sequel to one of the most terrifying movies ever made. His film isn’t scary, in fact it's often downright silly and rather campy, but also kind of awesome. My full review can be read here.
Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series: For whatever reason, I never watched Fraggle Rock growing up. My wife tells me that’s tantamount to neglect. I might just have to get this set so that my daughter doesn’t grow up missing out.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow: The Complete Third Season: What started out as the worst of the DC live-action television shows has grown to become one of my favorites. I’ll have a review out soon.
The Baby: Arrow Video is putting out a nice edition of one of the strangest horror movies I’ve ever seen. It's about a social worker investigating an eccentric family and the 21-year-old man whom they treat like a baby - diapers, bottles and all. I’ll have a full review soon.