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Entertainment & Arts

The Disturbing Reality of the Mirror Universe Captain Lorca

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After recent events in Star Trek: Discovery, the viewer cannot help but feel genuinely set adrift. While there are several important instances in the show’s narrative that have led to this, perhaps, enduring emotional state, paramount to the story is Captain Lorca’s grand deception of being a member of the Mirror Universe. Making him the mirror universe Captain Lorca is a choice by the writers that is unconscionable, and the long-term ramifications could be terminal for the nascent Discovery.

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As described by Kristen E. Strubberg, placing Lorca as the Mirror Universe version of his presumably dead Prime Universe counterpart leaves Discovery absolutely “rudderless.” At present, USS Discovery is being maintained by her very capable and stoic first officer Saru. However, the ship remains without a true, full blooded, four-pipped captain and that cannot hold without horrific problems. Despite Discovery’s narrative focus on Michael Burnham, any Star Trek fan knows that the absence of the established captain is a spiritual amputation. The captain sets the tone, interprets their mission, and most importantly provides leadership from the front, by example – the only leadership.

Beyond the state of Discovery’s crew Lorca’s departure has created, it is less than nothing when compared to Lorca’s greater mission and purpose: winning the war against the Klingons.

The “Evil” Captain Lorca

Mirror Universe Captain LorcaCBS

Goddammit.

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Several times I have spoken to friends that have outwardly called Lorca “evil” prior to his reveal. While the description “evil” has distinct moral applications, it tells us less than nothing, and is at best problematic.

Let’s be clear ladies and gentleman and various androgynous species: the Federation is engaged in total war. In human history there has only ever been a single instance of total war: the highly analyzed conflict, the Second World War. What is total war? Total war is the clash of implacable enemies whose only definition of victory is the outcome of unconditional surrender, complete capitulation. In fighting said conflict, nations utilize the entirety of thier military might, industrial capacity, as well as mobilizing the whole of their population to achieve victory. The Federation-Klingon war in Discovery is an elemental point in Trek history, one in which the adversaries have entirely contradictory world views. While the Federation is always inclined toward diplomacy, the Klingon’s at present are only interested in conquering the Federation in total.

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So, why is that so damn important? In this case the high minded and preferably pacific nature of the Federation must defeat a vicious enemy to survive. Unfortunately for anyone who has a background in military history or grand strategy, it is unmistakable that Starfleet is completely inept at properly planning and fighting wars. For those DS9 fans in the house – other than it’s necessary narrative dramatic purpose – the Dominion war should never have happened. Waiting to seal and then eventually mine the entrance to the Bajoran wormhole last minute in order to thwart Dominion incursion was by definition incompetence. Long story short, they need a lot of help, and Lorca was their guy.

When those who had posed the Lorca is evil aspersion, I would always reply, “He is not evil, he is Curtis Lemay.” Whether many of us like it or not, there comes a time when what we hold most dear must be defended by a George S. Patton. Unique and brilliant masters of warfare who have very little place in peacetime. This was Gabriel Lorca.

When the Discovery returned to their proper universe nine months after they departed, there is a reason that the Federation is near collapse; they lost the man who was born to lead its fight to victory. As unpalatable as it may be, paradise had to be defended by someone who intrinsically understood and embraced the nature of war.

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The Federation collapsing is more than the Discovery not being able to relay their information to crack the Klingon cloak. It was the loss of the Captain who headed the mission to make it so. These are the facts, and they’re undisputed.

What the Hell is Discovery doing playing around in the Mirror Universe?

Mirror Universe Captain Lorca, mirror SuluCBS

A reality where sweet facial scars and goatees are always in fashion.

Yet perhaps what is most disappointing is the loss of a truly layered disposition and a remarkable human story that was Captain Lorca. Making him part of the mirror universe robs the audience of an amazing character, and makes Lorca a cartoon character.

Jason Isaacs in his media spree following the big reveal stated that he chose the role of Lorca because he was a complex villain, and had no interest in playing a bad guy twirling his mustache. With great respect to an actor whose work I admire immensely, the twirling mustache is precisely the character he assumed.

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For long time Trek fans, each know clearly that the mirror universe was a gag. It was a trend starting with TOS “Mirror Mirror,” considerably developed on DS9 and topped off by Enterprise. Each instance having been done so for the writers personal amusement, and to the eternal chagrin of the brilliant actor who portrayed Elim Garak, Andrew Robinson.

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Mirror Universe Captain Lorca, GarakCBS

Never plain nor simple. A face that describes the situation as words never could.

I will never understand why it was necessary to visit the mirror universe amid Discovery’s first season. With so much substance in the present prime timeline, it was a trope only little worse than a serious temporal incursion.

For most of the season prior to the Mirror Universe diversion, I operated under the belief that the venerable writer, director and Discovery’s Consulting Producer Nicholas Meyer had a firm influential hand in creating the story. However this is not the case, saying to Inverse this past September that, “I would sort of put in my own two cents every once and a while.” This is clearly in evidence, as I would never have expected such a stunt under the supervision of the man largely responsible for the best Trek movie ever, and The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. Meyer is a gentleman who has brilliantly portrayed the best human stories through the lens of science fiction. In addition to someone I would imagine would be highly intrigued by the concept of such a multifaceted character as a prime universe Gabriel Lorca against the backdrop of Federation decency and idealism.

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10 Things Star Trek: Discovery Must Do to Avoid Epic Failure

As precisely described by contributor for The Mary Sue Kaila Hale-Stern regarding the incredible narrative losses that occurred in the mirror universe foray (namely the death of amazing Doctor Culber, the emerge of “Ash-Voq,” and Lorca’s reveal), “it feels as though we’ve lost far more than we’ve gained.” Truer words were never spoken. Unless Discovery’s writers manage to orchestrate a disturbing use of deus ex machina, Discovery is upstream without a paddle. It is a position the show should have never been put in to begin with. That is a situation at its very best is amazingly disappointing and profoundly disheartening.

However one chooses to interpret these events of the first season is their own, and perhaps others can more easily digest these turn of events – I cannot. All being fair, it is still wonderful to have new Star Trek being created. Though as the legendary Klingon Dahar Master Kor once commented about himself also best describes Discovery’s current condition, “I was once, if you remember, far less than you see, and far more than I have become.” Discovery is on thin ice.

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That is my story, and I’m sticking to it.

(Article Continues Below…)

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Discovery Possibilities Moving Forward to Give You Hope

Mirror Universe Captain Lorca, Klingon Dahar Master and Curzon DaxCBS

From left to right: Kor, Kang, Kollos, and an elderly Curzon Dax

As Discovery is set in the Prime universe, it is important to note that the audience has several fascinating possibilities to emerge that have not yet been seen. Specifically three great Klingons of this era, Kang, Kollos and the aforementioned Kor. All incredible hallmarks of the Trek universe, all who have served as Federation adversaries and eventual negotiators for lasting peace between the two galactic powers. Those with a keen eye for detail have undoubtedly noticed that the vanquished Kol was from the House of Kor. This cannot be a coincidence, and speaks to these three warriors possible place in upcoming events.

The other amazing prospect that if used would stoke the heart of all Trek fans is the introduction of one Curzon Dax. Curzon is the Trill host to the Dax symbiont prior to Jadzia, and also served as the Federation Chief Diplomatic negotiator with the Klingon Empire – specifically sitting across the table with the aforementioned trio. If there is one thing the Federation needs at this juncture – other than capable military leadership – it is a diplomat who understands the Klingons, and can do business with them. Should Curzon emerge going forward, it would weave a thread through the Star Trek tapestry that no fan could help but adore, and admire.

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Paul K. DiCostanzo is the Managing Editor for TGNR. He is a noted public speaker, an emerging historian of the Second World War, a vocal advocate for Crohn’s Disease/Ulcerative Colitis, and highly regarded interviewer. Prior to TGNR, Paul has a background in American National Security and American Foreign Policy. He has served as the Managing Editor for TGNR since March 2015.

CadreCinematique

Mourning Filmstruck

The death of Filmstruck is the latest symptom of our rapidly devolving film culture: This is a look at what we’ve lost, and what lies ahead.

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Image Credit: Filmstruck

The demise of Filmstruck is a major loss to the world of cinema. If you were to log on to film Twittertm – that specialist ghetto of cinephiles (“or what you’d call film buffs” as Matthew remarks early in the late Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers) you would realize that many of us are in mourning for a rapidly depleting film culture.

Across the country, most Americans do not have access to an art house theater, and it’s even less likely that they would have access to a repertory theater. Those in New York City can pick their poison between the Metrograph and Film Forum and Village Quad Cinema. Heck they’ve even got the NiteHawk in Williamsburg. Those in LA have the New Beverly. Most of us, however, are just plain out of luck.

Two years ago Filmstruck seemed like the solution. A collaboration between Warner Brothers and the Criterion Collection, Filmstruck was a hand-curated outfit that seemed like film school on a Roku. From Rohmer to Ozu, Sembene to Akerman – world cinema was at your fingertips. You want to spend 83 minutes with Alma from Persona? Sure can. You could check in with Guido Anselmi or Sam Spade or Mabel Longhetti or any of several versions of Orpheus by just pressing a button…and now it’s gone.

A Half Remembered Dream Factory

Claudia Cardinale in Frederico Fellini's 8 1/2Francinex/Cineriz

Claudia Cardinale in Frederico Fellini’s 8 1/2

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Every day we seem to forget more of our history. Hollywood is no exception. Often they seem to be leading the way. Hollywood has always been America’s dream factory, and there are some real talented and nice people out there – people who care desperately about movies.

Yet, because of the vagaries of corporate America, and the rush to the all-mighty dollar that capitalism surely compels, Hollywood has become a system that is ruled by puffed-up Harvard MBA’s in slick two-button suits looking for ten percent profit on the next remake.

Now, I don’t really have anything against these people, it’s just that many of them don’t really know or give a lick about the classic days of the industry, the history of world cinema, or even current world cinema beyond their own distribution pacts. They only worry whether their new one hundred million dollar piece of content is going to be allowed to play in China, and whether it will allay some its substantial budget with international pre-sales.

In turn, we have the creation of these monster conglomerates through very big mergers such as Disney buying Fox, or in our case AT&T buying Time Warner, which has led directly to AT&T shutting down Filmstruck.

See, they want to invest only in core businesses that will generate substantial return. This makes complete sense from a business perspective. Except, in the olden days of Hollywood the guys that ran the place, like Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg, saw the picture business as more than just a profit machine. They understood they were creating a product that was intangible – a motion picture, not a widget.

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Ingmar Bergmans 'Persona' | Cadre Cinematique

Sure, they were interested in making money, they damn well weren’t commies, but at the same time they were making something near Art and they were passionate about it.

Cinema Homogenized

Lillian Gish in D.W. Griffith's Broken BlossomsD. W. Griffith

Lillian Gish in D.W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms

There was a time when it felt like cinema could change the world. In his review of The Dreamers (to circle back), Roger Ebert reminisces that back in ’68, Chicagoans were lined up on the sidewalk in the rain to see Godard’s Weekend. Imagine that now? Wouldn’t happen.

AT&T closed Filmstruck because they believed it was niche. Great cinema like Casablanca and King Kong, The Seven Samurai and Weekend, which all those people lined up for all those years ago, is now just niche content.

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What’s the use of going to a movie theater if movies are just content no different from a YouTube video? Hollywood has forgotten its heroes. Cinema seems to have forgotten what cinema is all about – stories that move us or elucidate the world around us – or even sometimes elucidate feelings or emotions so deep-seated they would never stir without that silver-screen mirror.

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Agnes Varda's HappinessAgnès Varda

Agnes Varda’s Happiness

The last three movies I watched on Filmstruck were the creepy Japanese ghost story Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan (1959), the vibrantly alive magical realist bossa nova-driven romance Black Orpheus (1959), and Mikio Naruse’s masterful Floating Clouds (1955). Maybe my feeling towards Filmstruck and cinema itself is like Naruse’s lovers’ warmer brighter past in French Indochina – a deeply romantic paradise to which we can never return.

I certainly hope that’s not the case. I hope the future of cinema and the future of repertory streaming services spreads out before us like a mighty bounty.

To ensure this, we all have do our part. Watch movies. Buy movies.  All movies.  Become cine-literate in everything. Especially the classics.

(Article Continues Below...)

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Preservation in the Post-Filmstruck Era

Lourdes de Oliveira in Marcel Camus' Black OrpheusDispat Films/Gemma/Tupan Filmes

Lourdes de Oliveira in Marcel Camus’ Black Orpheus

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What’s next? The terrific physical media company The Criterion Collection is starting their own streaming channel. Will it succeed? Only if enough of us are interested in preserving our globe’s sometimes shared, sometimes divergent cultural heritage.

Mikio Naruse's Autumn Has Already StartedMikio Naruse

Mikio Naruse’s Autumn Has Already Started

Films are doorways into past and future worlds. These stories have shaped us, and allowed a plethora of fascinating cultures to share their preoccupations, hopes, and fears with other, sometimes very different people, in every far-flung nook and cranny of this astonishing world.  These dreams, stories, and feelings are too important to be allowed to just fade away.

Please preserve them.

Write to David B. Sporn at dsporn@tgnreview.com

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The Man in the High Castle Universe: How the Axis Won WW2

Exactly what the hell went so wrong to create the High Castle dystopia? Second World War historian Paul K. DiCostanzo examines the possibilities.

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With the interminable wait for season three of Amazon Prime’s portrayal of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle concluding on October 5th, we pose the singular question underlying the series thus far: How could the Axis powers have defeated the United States and its Allies in The Man in the High Castle Universe? The following interpretation is one possible “universe” of Man in the High Castle. One in which we explore the biggest question for most viewers: How the Axis won WW2, or more specifically, “How did the US lose World War II?”

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As the show straddles the genres of Alternate History and Science Fiction, the world of High Castle is based on counter-factual history. That being said, the scenario below is projected from historical events that could explain the tragic collapse of the Allies and ultimate rise of the Axis powers.

The Man in the High Castle Universe: What went wrong?

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(A stark contrast in the two above maps that mark the conclusion of the historical and fictional WW2)

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For an American living in the 21st Century, the victory in the Second World War is even more fundamental to their worldview than even the American Revolution of 1776. It is, after all, the founding story of the modern United States and the rest of the world as we know it.


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The concept of the Allies losing to the satanic enemy of Nazi Germany and its Axis collaborators hits home in primordial fashion. It is a concept so deeply disturbing that the dystopia such a defeat would create is generally unthinkable. Yet in the High Castle universe, that is exactly what happened. So, what exactly went wrong in the High Castle timeline?

How the Axis won WW2: The Man in the High Castle Universe Historical Contradiction

In the High Castle universe, many well known events of the Second World War have outcomes clearly contrary to the viewer’s universe. In both the series and the classic novel, details are scarce as to exactly how the Axis managed victory over the Allies.


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Putting aside the little information divulged by the show so far – including Nazi Germany’s clear development of the first strategic nuclear weapon – what happened to the Allied nations that allowed this disaster to occur? While there are several distinct possibilities, one must start with the life of one Sir Winston Spencer Churchill.

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10 Things Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Must Do to Avoid Epic Failure

Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery is the swing season for the series. These are several directives to ensure this newest season gets it just right.

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Over the past two months new information about the greater Star Trek franchise have hit fans at warp speed. Between the announcement of a new series featuring Patrick Stewart and the contractual standstill leading perhaps to the fourth film in the Kelvin timeline’s demise – there has been no lack of blockbluster headlines. However, the project which will shortly eclipse all the rest is the upcoming sophomore season of Star Trek: Discovery with viewers paying particular attention to where the showrunners wish to take the series. Not to be left out, the following are ten guidelines – directives as it were – to ensure Star Trek: Discovery season 2 will not fall on its face. We begin with the introduction of a new-familiar face: Mr. Spock.

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1. A Tale of Two Spock’s: The Delicate Introduction of Ethan Peck in Discovery Season 2

Star Trek: Discovery season 2 Ethan Peck and Zachary QuintoWikicommons

The two Spock’s: Ethan Peck & Zachary Quinto

I fully concede the pragmatic reality of the entertainment industry, and that Zachery Quinto was very unlikely to assume the role of the prime universe Spock in Star Trek: Discovery season 2 – but I cannot help stopping and thinking, “What the crap?”

With the announcement that Ethan Peck will play Spock in Star Trek: Discovery season 2, there are now two actors, in the prime of their career, portraying effectively the same character at the same time: Quinto on the big screen and Peck on my iPhone. Lets all be honest with ourselves, that’s really friggin’ weird.

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Though Alex Kurtzman and the current Star Trek braintrust were nothing less than effusive in praise for the talented Peck, there are greater factors at play by having more than one Spock.


“We searched for months for an actor who would, like them, bring his own interpretation to the role. An actor who would, like them, effortlessly embody Spock’s greatest qualities, beyond obvious logic: empathy, intuition, compassion, confusion and yearning. Ethan Peck walked into the room inhabiting all of these qualities, aware of his daunting responsibility to Leonard, Zack and the fans, and ready to confront the challenge in the service of protecting and expanding on Spock’s legacy. In that spirit, we’re thrilled to welcome him to the family.” – Alex Kurtzman, Star Trek: Discovery Executive Producer


The Reality of Dueling Spock’s

To be fair there has been a Spock duo before, however those were very different circumstances. It was clear for those who have eyes to see that it was a passing of the torch. The beloved Leonard Nimoy, in the best of Star Trek tradition, played the role of a venerated character sanctifying the newest Trek foray with his saintly presence. What Trek fans are dealing with now, whether they yet realize it or not, is a competition that is at best irksome.

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Depending on their performance, as well as their dictated place in the narratives they inherit, one of them will ultimately be accepted as THE Spock while the other will be relegated to “Other Spock,” a second class citizen in Trek canon. Not only will this be unfair to the actors who portray him, it is a profound disservice to the character himself to assume this baggage.

The best one can hope for under these circumstances is that Peck will knock this role in Star Trek: Discovery season 2 out of the park. In the end that is always what will matter most and that each “Spock” can be appreciated in there respective spheres.

Speaking of troublesome duplicates…

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Amazon Releases “The Man in the High Castle” Season 3 Date; New Trailer at SDCC

Fans of Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle” see light at the end of their tunnel, as the two year wait for season 3 is coming to a confirmed end.

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Screen shot from The Man in the High Castle newest trailer from SDCC

San Diego, CA – This weekend at San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), after a seemingly interminable wait, fans of Amazon’s hit series The Man in the High Castle finally have the answer to their biggest question: when is the show coming back? To the audience’s delight, Amazon confirmed that season three will premiere on October 5th, 2018.

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To further whet their fans’ appetites, the series’ showrunners also released a new trailer for the upcoming season during their panel at SDCC. 

SDCC 2018 & The Longer than Expected Road to High Castle Season 3

Season two of the show debuted in December 2016, after which there had very few indicators of when season three would see the light of day.

In February of 2017 Amazon Prime renewed High Castle for its third season, and filming began in late June of last year.

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Additionally first reported by Deadline, Amazon publicly released their order to renew the series for its fourth season as well. No date for its release has yet been revealed.

At this weekend’s San Diego Comic Con, The Man in the High Castle announced not only the answer to the most burning question – thats is, when season 3 will debut –  but also shared its first substantive trailer regarding season three since October 2017.

Though only a minute in length, the powerful sneak peak will further stoke the flames for the show’s ravenous fans.

(Article Continues Below...)

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New High Castle Trailer: Further Exploration into Science Fiction, and a Mobilizing Resistance

This newest trailer for High Castle season three covers an exceptional amount of ground and leaves the audience with little question as to what the newest installment will focus upon.

The clip depicts further collaboration between Juliana Crain and Hawthorne Abendsen – the so-called “Man in the High Castle.”

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Specifically, they are working to combat the Greater German Reich’s experimental weapon which allows them by means of technology to traverse the series’ multiverse; all courtesy of Nazi R&D. This marks the shows most forward foray into The Man in the High Castle‘s science-fiction origin up to this point.

Moreover, it depicts a revitalization of the American resistance against the respective occupying Axis powers Germany and Imperial Japan. 

The Man in the High Castle is one of Amazon Prime’s most watched series, based on Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same title published in 1962.

The series is set in the United States, in a fictional 1962 in which the Axis won WWII – and occupying a defeated US.

To enjoy the sneak peek, click at the top to watch the newest trailer for High Castle season 3!

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The Man in the High Castle is exclusively available for streaming on Amazon Prime

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Solo: A Star Wars Story REVIEW

In this newest incarnation of Disney-era Star Wars films, Solo: A Star Wars Story adds to the questionable new legacy.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story
Image Credit: Disney/LucasFilm

Solo: A Star Wars Story is out, and since its release the film has proven to be as polarizing as other Disney-era LucasFilm installments for the franchise.

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For Star Wars fans of every generation, the back story of the series favorite smuggler and scoundrel has possessed a certain mystery. Within the scope of the live-action film adaptation of the iconic saga, the audience has only been given minor snippets of Han’s past.

Solo: A Star Wars Story – The Down Low

Solo: A Star Wars Story begins to shed light on his epic brotherhood with Chewbacca, the genesis of the Millennium Falcon, and his early exploits with one Lando Calrissian. With so much on the line presenting his personal history front and center, could it possibly live up to the hype?

Also by popular demand, some have inquired how I think about and analyze movies when I review them. For those interested, these are my insights into how my reviews are created.

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As with every adaptation of Star Wars, no one fan is ever lacking an opinion regarding every detail – major or minor alike. What did you think of Solo: A Star Wars Story? What did you love? What would you have changed? Would you have made the movie at all? Is Disney/Lucas Film saturating the market with four feature films in the last three years? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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