Solo: A Star Wars Story

[4.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

So we managed to see this summer blockbuster-that-wasn't before it vanished from local cinemas. Avast: spoilers there be, below this line. Proceed with caution.

We pick up Han when he's a minor thief under the thumb of crime lord Lady Proxima on the ship-building planet of Corellia. (As you may remember, the Millennium Falcon was described as a "Corellian freighter" in the original movies.) Han has big plans, though: to escape Corellia and Proxima (not necessarily in that order) with his sweetie Qi'ra, get his own ship, become a pilot, and from there, make an honest independent living as a smuggler.

Things go awry. Many things. He worms his way into a band of thieves led by Woody Harrelson, their do-or-die mission to swipe a load of valuable hyperfuel for their employer, Paul Bettany. Things still go awry, and Han keeps getting further behind in his quest for independence.

Things we see: Han meeting Chewbacca; Han meeting Lando; Han (eventually) getting his hands on the Millennium Falcon; Han shooting first. We get additional confirmation of what we knew from past movies: Han likes to think he's an in-it-for-himself scoundrel, but at heart he's like a Chandler private eye: "Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world."

Real spoiler here: no Jabba. Hence there's a big gaping hole that could be (but probably won't be) filled by a second Solo movie, detailing what happens with Han and Qi'ra (now shown to be in thrall to Darth Maul) and Jabba on scenic Tatooine.

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • Proverbs 12:21 is a little too optimistic for my tastes:

    21 No harm overtakes the righteous,
        but the wicked have their fill of trouble.

    Or maybe things worked better, cosmic-justicewise, back in Ancient Israel.

  • One of my left-wing Facebook friends pointed out (with suitable outrage) this Politico article: The 2 words you can’t say in a Democratic ad. Oooh! What could they be?

    Democratic voters want single payer health care. But don’t expect to hear Democratic candidates talk about it — at least not in those words.

    To avoid divisive intraparty fights that drive candidates left — only to be attacked by Republicans for favoring socialized medicine — the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee warned aspirants last year about the political liabilities of endorsing “single payer,” according to sources familiar with the advice. An influential progressive group even urged candidates to discard the often-misunderstood phrase and embrace “Medicare for all” to draw strong connections with the popular seniors’ health program.

    Note that "single payer" was already a euphemism for socialized medicine. But apparently voters caught that, so it's on to a new euphemism, "Medicare for all".

    It's an excellent example of Steven Pinker's euphemism treadmill. Alex Nowrasteh has immigration-based examples here. We've noted how "affirmative action" was treadmilled into "race-sensitive admissions policies" here, and how "gun control" became "gun reform" here.

  • John Podhoretz reviews, hilariously, Paul Schrader's "dreary latest film": Caricature Study.

    The word “masterwork” is being tossed about liberally since the release of a new film called First Reformed, so I felt I had to see it—even though four decades of exposure to the productions of its 71-year-old writer-director, Paul Schrader, have offered me little save savage instruction in the meaning of the phrase “waste of time.”

    Surely, I thought, it couldn’t simply be that First Reformed gained its fan club because it tells a story about a tormented pastor awakening to the threat of global warming. That couldn’t possibly be the only reason.

    It’s not the only reason. There’s also a bad guy based on the Koch brothers. He’s the second-worst polluter in America and the big reveal here is that he gives $85,000 to his local church. Eighty-five thou? Please. A really evil Koch clone would give $50 million. Oh, and there’s also a kid at a Christian fellowship meeting wearing a T-shirt with a cross on it who complains about Muslims. I didn’t see the movie at a critic screening, but I assume the critics who have been raving about this collection of wildly obvious caricatures had to restrain themselves from clapping like audience members at the Samantha Bee show.

    Well, that one goes off the Netflix queue. (But unlike JPod, I kind of liked Rolling Thunder.)

  • At NRO, Andrew McCarthy has a pointed observation about Leak Investigations, Journalists, and Double Standards.

    The media are in a lather over the Justice Department’s grand-jury investigation of contacts between several reporters and a government source — the former Senate Intelligence Committee security director who has been indicted for lying to investigators about his leaks to the press.

    The same media are in a lather over the refusal of the president of the United States, at least thus far, to submit to questioning by the special counsel in the Russia investigation. The president is placing himself “above the law,” they contend, if he rebuffs prosecutors or defies a grand-jury subpoena.

    Whether we’re talking about journalists or presidents, the situation is the same: An investigative demand is made on people whose jobs are so important to the functioning of our self-governing republic that they are given some protection, but not absolute immunity, from the obligation to provide evidence to the grand jury.

    You should beware of journalists who pontificate that "no one should be above the law", while adding, under their breath, "… except us."

  • I will just go ahead and "excerpt" this entire short bit from the WSJ on Academic Groupthink

    Here is a story I heard from a friend, which I will alter slightly to protect the innocent. A prestigious psychology professor signed an open letter in which psychologists condemned belief in innate sex differences. My friend knew that this professor believed such differences existed, and asked him why he signed the letter. He said that he expected everyone else in his department would sign it, so it would look really bad if he didn’t. My friend asked why he expected everyone else in his department to sign it, and he said “Probably for the same reason I did.”

    The original is from Scott Alexander's musings on the "Intellectual Dark Web" at Slate Star Codex: Can Things Be Both Popular And Silenced?

  • Larry Lessig is the semi-famous lawyer who argued and lost (and, to my mind, botched) Eldred v. Ashcroft, the Supreme Court case that upheld the "Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act". At Wired, he notes the a legislative giveaway in progress: Congress' Latest Move to Extend Copyright Protection is Misguided.

    Twenty years later, the fight for term extension has begun anew. Buried in an otherwise harmless act, passed by the House and now being considered in the Senate, this new bill purports to create a new digital performance right—basically the right to control copies of recordings on any digital platform (ever hear of the internet?)—for musical recordings made before 1972. These recordings would now have a new right, protected until 2067, which, for some, means a total term of protection of 144 years. The beneficiaries of this monopoly need do nothing to get the benefit of this gift. They don’t have to make the work available. Nor do they have to register their claims in advance.

    Looking at the (linked) bill, it has "bipartisan support", which, in these days, indicates that the fix may be in. Lessig's description of "misguided" is way too polite; "rent-seeking crony capitalism" is more on-target.