Kevin: The reviews for the newest “Star Wars” spin-off “Solo” came out this week, and the consensus seems to be that the film is an entertaining but flawed and unnecessary look back at the origin of our favorite space smuggler. Of course one advantage this movie has is that we know Han, Lando, and Chewie will not be dying at the end of this, which will be a nice change of pace after the dreary bummer that was “The Last Jedi.” After checking it out back in January, I had to agree with the angry fans who famously drove its audience score on Rotten Tomatoes far below that of the critics. But now that a few months have gone by I figured I’d rope the rest of the TGD Squad into a Rewind to see if maybe if I was too hard on the film at the time.
Now there are a lot of reasons for the hatred shown by many fans for the last entry: the casino planet subplot may be the worst in “Star Wars” history, Rose is easily the most annoying character since Jar Jar, the humor is prequel-level embarrassing, Luke Skywalker is a miserable asshole and anything that involves him is a tedious slog, etc. But the whole pointless “Three’s Company”-style misunderstanding about Laura Dern’s escape plan encapsulates why a lot of people could care less about the next chapter, since our supposed heroes come off as fucking morons who probably should let the far more competent First Order take power over the galaxy.
This leads into one of the biggest ongoing debates in the “Star Wars” universe: Is the reason the Resistance got wiped out to the point where they have fewer members than Earth, Wind, and Fire because Poe Dameron was dangerously reckless and wouldn’t follow orders, or because Laura Dern wouldn’t tell anyone what her stupid plan was?
First let’s remind ourselves where we are when the movie starts. The opening crawl tells us that the Resistance has been “decimated,” even though “The Last Jedi” appears to pick up not too long after “The Force Awakens” ended with the First Order being dealt a huge blow after their Star Killer base was destroyed. I’ll note that “The Last Jedi” has also been embraced in some quarters as a feminist movie, but whatever feminist statement it thinks it’s making is kind of undercut by the fact that the leadership ranks of the Resistance contain more middle-aged ladies than your average Human Resources department, and they seem to be getting their asses handed to them on a constant basis by the First Order, which seems to be staffed entirely by pasty white British dudes.
Honestly I’m still confused about how Princess Leia rose through the ranks to become a General despite her obvious drinking problem, but either way it would be like putting your alcoholic aunt in command of the 7th Fleet. Also does she outrank Admiral Ackbar? Shouldn’t he be in command just based on seniority? (Plus, the fact that her son is one of the leaders of the First Order could possibly be considered a conflict of interest.)
Either way, with all their recent setbacks you would think Leia would be happier about Poe helping destroy that Dreadnought at the beginning (which for some reason can only be done by having a bunch of ships approach it at three miles an hour and drop bombs directly over it), but when he gets back she slaps him (hey remember when Gen. Patton did that once and it destroyed his career?) and demotes him, saying that he sacrificed too many fighters and that “There are things you cannot solve by jumping in an X-wing and blowing things up.”
Really? When has that ever not been the case in a “Star Wars” movie? Didn’t the first one end with all the rebel fighters getting killed except Luke and Wedge? You wouldn’t know it since everyone is too busy celebrating and giving each other medals, including to Han and Chewie for heroically staying on the sidelines until the last second.
Anyway, once the entire command is killed except for Leia after she pulls her “Mary Poppins in space” move, it’s time to choose a new leader, which turns out to be Laura Dern as Admiral Holdo. Now I know the anti-Poe side believes he didn’t take her seriously as a leader because she’s a woman, but I don’t know any military rank-and-file who would be comfortable taking orders from someone who’s dressed like some kind of fairy godmother.
We then get to the pivotal moment, when Poe tries to introduce himself and find out what their strategy is:
Poe: Vice Admiral? Commander Dameron. We are low on fuel and there’s a limited amount of time that we can stay out of range of those Star Destroyers …
Holdo: Very kind of you to make me aware.
Poe: … before we can find a new base, so, what’s our plan?
Holdo: Our plan, captain? Not commander, right? Wasn’t it Leia’s last official act to demote you for your Dreadnought plan, where we lost our entire bombing fleet?
Poe: Captain, commander, you can call me whatever you like. I just want to know what’s going on.
Holdo: Of course you do. I understand, I’ve dealt with plenty of trigger-happy flyboys like you. You’re impulsive, dangerous, and the last thing we need right now. So stick to your post, and follow my orders.
Unfortunately I can’t convey through text how unnecessarily hostile and condescending Holdo is in this scene, but there is seriously no reason for her to be this standoffish to the person who’s been described as the Resistance’s “most daring pilot” since the “Force Awakens.” Also, considering Poe could find himself in charge if the four middle-aged women ahead of him in rank get killed off, maybe it might be a good idea to keep him in the loop.
Now while she seems to be letting some previous baggage involving “flyboys” affect her judgment, apparently Holdo hasn’t told anyone else her plan either. Later when he confronts her after the Resistance’s fleet has been cut down to one ship, Poe again asks her in front of an entire roomful of people to tell them what the plan is and give them some hope. Her response: “When I served under Leia, she would say hope is like the sun; if you only believe in it when you can see it, you’ll never make it through the night.”
Great, what the fuck does that have to do with anything right now, and also, just tell them the stupid plan! Also, would this be the same Leia who has done such a bang-up job so far, and when did she say this, during another of her blackout-level benders? Either way, I’ll note that when Poe and a group of fellow soldiers mutiny against Holdo and take her prisoner, they do so surrounded by hundreds of people who don’t seem to give two shits.
Of course the mutiny is quickly put down after Poe is tasered by Leia, and as his unconscious body is being loaded on a transport Holdo tells Leia, “I like him.” What, where did that come from? Seriously, I’ve dated girls who were pissed at me all day over something I did IN A DREAM, so I can’t imagine how long it would take them to get over me pointing a gun at them.
Either way, Poe wakes up on the transport and it’s Leia who has to finally tell him the plan, that they are evacuating the smaller transports to escape undetected to an abandoned base nearby. When he hears this Poe simply says, “That could work.” Yeah so why the fuck didn’t Holdo just tell him from the very beginning and avoid everything that occurred as a result, which is about to get almost all of them wiped out? “She was more interested in protecting the light than seeming like a hero.” Again, what does that even mean, and why did the Resistance put a bunch of space hippies in charge?
So what say ya’ll? Is the fact that the entire Resistance can now easily fit onto the Millennium Falcon Holdo’s fault for not revealing her plan, or should Poe have just blindly followed orders, the way all of our favorite sci-fi heroes do? I’ll just say this, would you trust this person with your Starbucks order, much less the fate of the universe?
CJ: Honestly I’m with Holdo. If I’m the new incoming CEO, Johnny from accounting doesn’t get to go “Hey bossman, I ain’t doing shit until you satisfy my concerns!”
First off, I now don’t need to ask HR why you were demoted. Second, shut up and get back to your cubicle!
Mike: A million things bother me about the “Star Wars” franchise, but right up there closest to the top is the fact that they never ever point out what the “Empire / First Order” is doing across the galaxy to make everyone so upset. Are they imposing lots of taxes? Are they refusing to enact universal healthcare? Making bad policy decisions? What are they doing?! As far as I can tell there are still casino planets and plenty of other places that seem completely unaffected. What is so wrong with letting them have their power?
It doesn’t seem like they’re going to enslave the galaxy or anything. As far as I can tell the First Order has the biggest and best ships, where I assume everyone has their own estate room and plenty of hot coffee in the morning. As opposed to the rebels who are crammed together making one horrible decision after the next. Maybe we should give them a chance? Wouldn’t you like to have a private bathroom with a Jacuzzi just once?
Admiral Holdo is also hands down the worst character from any “Star Wars” movie, including Jar Jar and Rose. Her entire character didn’t even need to be in the movie. I don’t throw the word “propaganda” around very often, but let’s be real, she was only written into this pile of garbage so that there would be another positive female character in the mix. Because it’s not enough that the savior of the Force, Rey, is a female, and the savior of the galaxy, Leia, is also a female, now we need the savior of the Resistance to also be a female. So let’s shoehorn in Admiral Holdo from the start just so we can kill her off at the end and forget she ever existed.
The plot of the film was so fucking stupid I can’t even believe it. It actually made me physically angry for days. For those of you who don’t already know, I will summarize it in one sentence: The First Order is chasing the last three rebel ships through space while waiting for them to run out of gas. That’s it. Never in the history of “Star Wars” has any ship needed fuel, talked about fuel, or refueled. Now it’s the major plot point of an entire film.
So the First Order can’t move as fast as the rebel ships and instead they are trailing behind just out of reach. Okay geniuses, well how about this, you have an entire First Order fleet, right?! You have an inexhaustible fuel supply, right??!! Why don’t you have a portion of your forces hyperspace IN FRONT OF THE REBELS so that you can attack them from all sides? Oh I remember, because the ferocious Admiral Holdo with the Fun Dip hair is in charge and you’re scared she’ll outsmart you, so the best course of action is to give her the most amount of time you possibly can in order to outsmart you. I wanted to throw my coffee table through the television set.
While we’re at it, since the Rebels are so goddamn smart, how about this for an idea. Instead of flying to a casino planet to hire some amazing codebreaker, who you will then have to secretly transport onto the First Order’s most dangerous ship to disable a single tractor beam, why not, oh I don’t know, steal a fucking refueling ship? I’m sure there are billions of them completely unguarded all over the galaxy. DO THAT PLAN, while you buy yourselves some time to figure out a much better plan. Off hand, I’m thinking, steal the refueling ship, use it to refuel all your smaller ships (which we have seen go into hyperspace, so we know that’s possible), send them all in random directions towards star systems where they can disappear in a crowd, and live to fight another day, etc.
Don’t even get me started on the Rey and Luke storyline. The only portion of that which made any sense at all was when Luke said the Jedi’s legacy was a legacy of failure. Which I completely agree with. Failure is absolutely right, but what do you expect when your entire operational principle is basically just “winging it”? How many things happen in “Star Wars” that are simply dumb luck? There’s an old expression that goes something like, “The best-laid plans work well until the first bullet is fired,” and since this movie takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the rebels are probably the ones who said it.
Anthony: I have to agree that gas has never been a plot point in any “Star War”s movie. The Millennium Falcon alone must guzzle gas like a Ferrari F112. To all of a sudden have that be the crux of an entire movie, and there’s apparently no way for the First Order to get in front of them, is a ridiculous situation. The only movie franchise that recognizes the consumption of gas and its pitfalls in a believable manner is the amazing “Mad Max” series. Replace Vader with Lord Humungus and I’d be so thrilled to accept this horrible three-hour chase scene. Even better, have Lord Humungus recite paragraphs of torture over the intercom as they chase the rebels the whole time.
The fact that Poe doesn’t accept the orders of his superior is, I guess, a character flaw … if you believe Poe has any character at all. I just think the rebels have bad communication at the top and need to trust each other more. Maybe a few trust falls and a weekend workshop. Although there’s no guarantee they’ll get there because they obviously keep forgetting to fill up the gas tanks.
I would talk about the casino planet subplot and Rose, but I’ve decided to treat these things like the WWE title reign of Brock Lesnar and pretend it is not real and that eventually we’ll all get past it and look back and laugh and wonder if it ever really happened?
Kevin: Actually before we conclude I need to vent some more about that casino planet again. So Finn and Rose take off in an escape ship (let’s not forget that Rose previously said she had to arrest three attempted deserters, so apparently Poe and myself aren’t the only ones doubting the leadership of General “Five Martini Lunch” Organa), which the First Order apparently can’t detect. Why? I don’t know, why can’t they just catch up to the slow-moving convoy in front of them? Why the can’t they send a bunch of Tie fighters to finish them off, especially since the Resistance has no ships left to fight back with?
Why can’t they detect 30 really big ships evacuating from the really, really big ship they’ve been following for the last seven hours, do they not even have one dude on the bridge with a pair of $5 binoculars? How can they track the Resistance through light speed, but as soon as they are out of light speed they drive slower than my grandmother? How do they know how much fuel the Resistance has, and what does “fuel” mean here anyway?
Wait where was I? Oh yeah, the stupid casino planet. So that little Maz creature who resembles an alien Linda Hunt says they can find the one and only codebreaker who can do what they need on the casino planet (she also says he is a “poet with a blaster,” and strongly implies that he is also great in bed, which now is forcing me to think of Justin Theroux going down on Maz). She adds that they will find him at a gambling table and he’ll be wearing a red plum on his lapel, which is some pretty fucking specific intuition on her part (she also says this in the middle of a gun battle, like when Seagal was interrupted by a phone call from HQ during a gun fight in “Under Siege.”)
Well what if he was doing something else when they got there? What if he was getting laid with another grotesque tiny alien? What if he realized how empty his life was as a professional gambler and decided to seek treatment? What if he just forgot his stupid red plum? I know CJ pretty well, but if you asked me where I could find the greatest “Transformers” expert in all of Austin, I’d probably give you his email at most, I wouldn’t be like, “You will definitely find him at the Alamo Drafthouse right before the 7:00 pm showing of “Rampage” on Thursday night, he will be in a dark t-shirt and drinking a Lone Star Light at the bar on the third chair from the left.”
But hey, give it up for Maz because she was totally right, although before they get a chance to talk to him they are arrested because they couldn’t even be bothered to park their cruiser in a less conspicuous spot on their super life-or-death mission. Then despite the fact that Justin Theroux was supposedly the only person capable of helping them, they just decide the stuttering weirdo played by Benicio Del Toro is a good enough substitute because he picks some basic cell lock. Then later they all get captured and Del Toro gives up the information about Laura Dern’s plan after the First Order gives him some money.
Now the fact that the First Order could have just tortured him rather rewarding him indicates to me that maybe they are not all bad. As Mike pointed out, what have we learned about them after two movies to indicate that a universe with them in control would be so awful? All we know about them from “The Force Awakens” is the opening crawl which states that the First Order arose from the ashes of the Empire after Luke Skywalker went missing. First off, how strong was the Republic’s hold on the galaxy if a powerful and well-equipped insurrection is ready to fight them as soon as Skywalker even takes a week-long vacation in Bermuda?
Other than that, yeah what is their goal, and why are they the bad guys? I’m not trying to do one of those clickbait “Maybe Daniel is actually the villain of ‘The Karate Kid’ rather than Johnny” type of posts, I genuinely don’t know why I am supposed to hate them, and if nothing else, like I said in our earlier “Last Jedi” post, I would be much more confident in the ability of the First Order to fix the potholes and get construction permits approved in a timely manner than the Republic. Sure they may have blown up a few planets in “The Force Awakens,” but while I consider America to be among the good guys in terms of the world order here on Earth, we’ve also made our share of missteps overseas as well. I’m just saying let’s not forget the saying that when making an omelet, sometimes you have to break a few eggs, or in this case destroy a few planets.
Mike: I’ll just say that the scene where Leia was sucked out of the spaceship and should have instantly been killed was my least favorite thing I’ve ever seen in a movie theater. And I paid to see “Cop and a Half” on the big screen.