SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (A Fan's Review)

May 30, 2018
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (A Fan's Review)


Hadn't had the time to do this before today, due to deadline pressures at my day job and other obligations, so I’d like to take a moment to share my thoughts regarding  Solo: A Star Wars Story.


WHAT I LIKED: Pretty much everything, despite my initial misgivings about the project. Alden Ehrenreich actually did a pretty fair job of channeling Harrison Ford as the title character (Ford has made similar comments himself in a couple of interviews I’ve read), and Donald Glover made a better Lando Calrissian than I’d expected.

With regards to Lando, I especially enjoyed a couple of bits of dialogue in the film that made reference to the events of two of the Lando Calrissian novels by L. Neil Smith back in the 1980s. (Thereby confirming that not ALL of the original “Expanded Universe” has been jettisoned, thank you very much.) I also liked the fact that the film was, overall, more in keeping with the original 1977 film in that it was lighter in tone than the latest trilogy thus far or Rogue One (all of which I enjoyed, by the way). There were some similar references to characters from other spin-offs, such as Aurra Sing.


AND, given that some of the hottest arguments I’ve had with fellow SW fans over the years have stemmed from the fact that I liked the riff on The Magnificent Seven that comprised the initial post-movie story arc in the original Marvel Comics run back in 1977, I really REALLY enjoyed the fact that (possible spoiler alert, but I’ll try to avoid it as best I can) one of the key scenes in this movie was the same sort of riff on The Great Train Robbery and similar westerns.

I'll admit it: I just dig that sort of thing.

(And to those who STILL complain about that story arc in Star Wars issues 7-10 forty-plus years ago, I’ll simply repeat one last time that the Magnificent Seven connection was very much appropriate, given that another Kurosawa film - The Hidden Fortress - was in fact one of Lucas’ initial inspirations for the original SW. So there.)


I’ll also go on record as stating that I thought fellow Oklahoman Ron Howard (long a favorite director of mine anyway) did an admirable job of taking over what was reportedly a troubled production and delivering such a fun and entertaining movie. I hope he gets the opportunity to make a return visit to that galaxy far, far away at some point in the future.


WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE: Not a lot on this side of the scale, truth be told, and what little there is was mostly nitpicky little stuff that ultimately do nothing to lessen my overall enthusiasm for the film. K-2SO is now officially my least favorite droid in the Star Wars saga, but that should be in no way construed as a criticism of the actress behind the character.

I personally would have liked to hear a little more of John Williams’ original themes used in the score, just because Williams is so much associated with the saga. But John Powell did a pretty admirable job of incorporating what parts Williams' work that are present, while making his own contributions to the SW musical tradition. I’m looking forward to adding this soundtrack to my collection.


My son Josh said he did not particularly like the scene involving the origin of Han’s name (again, trying to avoid spoilers here), but as a student of history it made perfect sense to me. But again, Josh admits that this is a nitpick on his part and he enjoyed the movie immensely (although he thinks Rogue One was the better of the two standalone films).

My wife Melissa was simply happy to see Chewbacca in action once again, and her favorite scenes involved her favorite Wookiee. Beyond that, you’d have to ask her.


Bottom line: I thought Solo was a great movie, lots of fun and overall a worthy addition to the saga. With regards to what some of us liked and didn’t like about it, we can pick those nits back and forth until the Porgs come home and at the end of the day it won’t mean a whole heck of a lot.

I got my money’s worth, and that’s all that matters as far as I'm concerned.

 

May The FIRST Be With You...

May 2, 2018

Something occurred to me the other day, as I was trying to wash the bad residue of the day’s national news cycle from my psyche by going back to the stuff I loved as a kid…


George Lucas (or maybe it was Alan Dean Foster) predicted the rise of Donald Trump.


Way back in December of 1976, roughly six months before the movie actually debuted in theaters, Ballantine/Del Rey Books released the novelization of the film Star Wars. The book carried the byline of the film’s writer-director, Geo...


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ONE HOLIDAY AT A TIME...!

November 21, 2017
We didn’t have a whole lot of what you might call “hard and fast rules” in the Small household when my younger brothers and I were growing up.

Compared to some of my classmates – especially a couple of fellows I knew whose fathers appeared to run their households like German stalags, and wielded an iron hand even over visitors of all ages who usually left looking shell-shocked - life was actually... well, I hesitate to say that it was relatively cushy, but it definitely could have bee...
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RAY LOKEY: 1953-2017

November 21, 2017

(Note: The following is a transcript of my eulogy for my employer and friend, Johnston County Capital-Democrat Publisher Ray Lokey, which was delivered on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Ray's memorial service. The service was held in Fletcher Auditoirum on the campus of Murray State College in Tishomingo.)


I've been agonizing all week about what I was going to say when I got up here… It's hard to sum up in just a few short minutes a relationship that lasted over a quarter of a century. But let me sta...
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THINGS MY MAMA TAUGHT ME

October 11, 2017
It is a sad fact of life that, all too often, we become so bogged down with the minutiae and infinitia of everyday life that we find ourselves accidentally forgetting the really important stuff.

That almost happened to me this week. I got so busy tackling what was required of me while working on this week’s issue of the Capital-Democrat that it almost - almost - slipped my mind that today (Wednesday, Oct. 11) would have been my mother’s 75th birthday.

It’s hard to believe that it has almo...
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HOLMES AND WATSON: THE NEXT GENERATION

October 6, 2017
Last night I finished reading Brittany Cavallaro’s A Study In Charlotte, the first book in a trilogy about Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson - the great-great-great-granddaughter and great-great-great-grandson of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The story is set in the modern day at a prep school in Connecticut, where both protagonists have been sent by their respective families for different reasons and who meet quite by accident (or so we are first led to believe).

Jamie is a rugby player ...

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A CLASSIC SONG RECONSIDERED...

September 7, 2017
“Eleanor Rigby” is one of the most popular of the hundreds of songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and recorded by the Beatles. It is also one of the best examples of their growing maturity as lyricists at the time, a song containing poetic qualities not found in such earlier works as “She Loves You” or “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”

Unlike so many of those earlier compositions, which for all their energy were merely variations of the traditional love song, “Eleanor Rigby...

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THOUGHTS ON CHARLOTTESVILLE...

August 16, 2017

My wife Melissa, son Joshua and I were in Monroe, Louisiana, sitting in the living room of our dear friends Win and Lisa Eckert last Saturday, talking about any number of things - most of them far removed from this place we (sometimes grudgingly) refer to as “the Real World” - when we got the news about the act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Like so many others - like anyone with even a trace of human decency in their soul an...


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ERB MOVIES OF THE 1970s

June 19, 2017

As Phillip R. Burger pointed out in an essay included in the 2005 Bison Books reissue of Richard Lupoff’s Master Of Adventure, 1975 was a particularly good year to be a fan of Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs.

For one thing, it was the centennial of ERB’s birth, which meant that much attention was being paid to the author and his works. As part of the centennial celebration, Irwin Porges finally published his long-anticipated (and definitive) ERB biography, Edgar Rice Burroughs: The Man...
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THE TARZAN NOVELS IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

June 16, 2017

This project grew out of my son Joshua’s stated desire to read the entire run of the authorized Tarzan novels - the original series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and those ERB Inc.-sanctioned novels by Fritz Leiber, Philip José Farmer, Joe Lansdale, Will Murray and Michael S. Sanford - more or less in the order in which they take place. When Josh announced his intent, I decided to compile this chronology for the purpose of helping him and other fans who might be considering a similar reading pr...


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About Me


John Allen Small John A. Small is an award-winning newspaper journalist, columnist and broadcaster whose work has been honored by the Oklahoma Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Press, the National Newspaper Association, and the Oklahoma Education Association. He and his wife Melissa were married in 1986; they have two sons, Joshua Orrin (born 1991) and William Ian (born 1996). Mr. Small is the News Editor and columnist for the Johnston County Capital-Democrat, a weekly newspaper headquartered in Tishomingo, OK. He obtained his nickname, "Bard of the Lesser Boulevards," from a journalism colleague - the late Phil Byrum - in recognition of the success of his popular newspaper column, "Small Talk." (In addition to the many awards the column itself has received over the years, a radio version of "Small Talk" earned an award for "Best Small Market Commentary" from the Society of Professional Journalists in 1998.) John was born in Oklahoma City in 1963; lived in the Bradley-Bourbonnais-Kankakee area of Illinois for most of the next 28 years (with brief sojourns in Texas and Athens, Greece, thrown in to break up the monotony); then returned to his native state in 1991, where he currently resides in the Tishomingo/Ravia area. He graduated from Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School in 1981, and received his bachelor's degree in journalism from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais in 1991. The years between high school and college were a period frought with numerous exploits and misadventures, some of which have become the stuff of legend; nobody was hurt along the way, however, which should count for something. In addition to his professional career as a journalist he has published two short story collections: "Days Gone By: Legends And Tales Of Sipokni West" (2007), a collection of western stories; and "Something In The Air" (2011), a more eclectic collection. He was also a contributor to the 2005 Locus Award-nominated science fiction anthology "Myths For The Modern Age: Philip Jose Farmer's Wold Newton Universe," edited by Win Scott Eckert. In additon he has written a stage play and a self-published cookbook; served as project editor for a book about the JFK assassination entitled "The Men On The Sixth Floor"; and has either published or posted on the Internet a number of essays, stories and poems. He has also won writing awards from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the National Library of Poetry. He is a past president of the Johnston County Chamber of Commerce in Tishomingo; was a charter member and past president of the Johnston County Reading Council, the local literacy advocacy and "friends of the library" organization; served as Johnston County's first-ever Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator in 1994-95; served two terms as chairman of the Johnston County (OK) Democratic Party; and has taught journalism classes for local Boy Scout Merit Badge Fairs. He is a member of the New Wold Newton Meteorics Society.
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