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Movies / Sans Solo: The real problem with the new Star Wars trilogy

I've nev­er met any­one who enjoyed an install­ment of the sec­ond Star Wars tril­o­gy — Phan­tom Men­ace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith. Com­mon­ly cit­ed aspects of its unpop­u­lar­i­ty (in no par­tic­u­lar order): ter­ri­ble dia­logue, insuf­fer­able "love" scenes, new char­ac­ters that would be mere­ly unin­ter­est­ing if they weren't offen­sive, and over-depen­dence on effects. [Read all of this and more in Antho­ny Lane's New York­er review].I sub­mit for inclu­sion: No Han Solo! No rogu­ish charmer! No swash­buck­ing mer­ce­nary! Han is every­thing that the sec­ond trilogy's char­ac­ters aren't: unpre­dictable, fun­ny, charm­ing; in short, INTERESTING. In the orig­i­nal tril­o­gy, his unabashed ego­tism bal­ances Luke's piety and Leia's bitchy cold­ness, mak­ing all three movies much less gag-induc­ing than they would have been otherwise.Note to screen­writ­ers: If you're going to write a sto­ry about the clash of good and evil, you need a char­ac­ter like Han to bal­ance the sac­cha­rine aspects of the two. Luke and Leia are pure and uncom­pli­cat­ed; this ren­ders them unin­ter­est­ing unless they're con­trast­ed with a char­ac­ter who actu­al­ly dis­plays human qual­i­ties. Han's irrev­er­ence and greed is off­set by a devo­tion to his friends, and this meaty, real stuff — plus sar­casm, fear, etc — helps view­ers embrace the unre­al stuff.The sec­ond tril­o­gy need­ed more Lord of the Rings-style sto­ries involv­ing friend­ship and adven­ture — some­thing, any­thing to bal­ance the melo­dra­ma and pol­i­tics. I mean, c'mon. Lucas!? Why sub­ject us to this? A char­ac­ter like Han could have inter­ject­ed in moments like this, at the begin­ning of Phan­tom Men­ace:

BIBBLE : Your High­ness, I will stay here and do what I can … They will have to retain the Coun­cil of Gov­er­nors in order to main­tain con­trol.HAN: Yeah, good luck with that.BIBBLE: In any case, you must leave.AMIDALA: Either choice presents a great risk … to all of us.PADME : We are brave, Your High­ness.HAN: "We" are get­ting the heck out of here before the bat­tle dri­ods get any clos­er.

Dis­claimers: (1) I'm not a Star Wars nerd. I thought that Episode 1 unequiv­o­cal­ly sucked and left the the­ater (or blocked out every­thing) after the pod races. I laughed through most of Episode 2, except for the scenes that made me retch. Dit­to Episode 3. And (2) While it's fash­ion­able to point out prob­lems in these movies, I don't have much expe­ri­ence with offi­cial Star Wars crit­i­cism beyond my own snide remarks and the snide remarks of oth­ers — so per­haps some­one has already writ­ten about this.Unrelated: Check out McSweeney's amend­ments of some clas­sic Obi­wan lines: "The Force is what gives a Jedi his pow­er. It's an ener­gy field cre­at­ed by all liv­ing things. It sur­rounds us and pen­e­trates us. It binds the galaxy. Oh, it's all horse­shit. God."Next prob­lem with the new tril­o­gy: No Lan­do.