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Solo: A Star Wars Story Has Lots to Show, Nothing to Say

Last year, George R.R. Martin – the author of A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels that have been adapted at HBO – said that of the several Game of Thrones spin-off ideas in development, not even one touched upon the period immediately prior to the current saga. “There would be no surprises or revelations left in such a show, just the acting out of conflicts whose resolutions you already know,” he added. Instead, Martin wants them to show parts of his universe that haven’t already been talked about.

On the other hand, the powers that-be at Lucasfilm – under Disney’s ownership – are more than happy to take the safer route and expand on events and characters we already know about, as it guarantees a financial windfall by drawing most if not all existing fans of the franchise. Partly thanks to Harrison Ford, Han Solo is one of the most famous characters in pop culture, let alone Star Wars. Telling his origin story, as the new standalone Star Wars film – Solo, out May 25 worldwide – does, is the definition of low-hanging fruit.

What makes that problem worse is that even before it starts, the big pieces of the puzzle are already in place. Owing to the original trilogy – now retroactively titled Episode IV, V and VI – that ran from 1977-1983, we know Han will meet Chewbacca, the two will then encounter Lando Calrissian, from whom Han will win the Millennium Falcon in a bet, with which he’ll make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. That’s not a lot of room to create a meaningful story – written by Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan – in addition to the fact there’s no stakes for our heroes.

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On top of that, Solo: A Star Wars Story is also dealing with a limited arc for a young Han, since he has to end up as the cocky and overpromising guy Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi meet in the Mos Eisley cantina. And that means the film can’t attribute qualities to him that you wouldn’t normally associate with him, even though he’s about a decade younger in this than in the original trilogy.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t try; Solo has moments where it pokes fun at his ill-advised bravado, but it’s still filling in the portrait of a guy who thinks he can do everything himself. Solo: A Star Wars Story begins by introducing the pair of Han (Alden Ehrenreich, from Hail, Caesar!) and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke, from Game of Thrones) on their homeworld of Corellia, who are in love and languishing in slum-like conditions. Years later, Han enlists in the Imperial forces, meets a criminal of dubious morals named Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson, from War for the Planet of the Apes), and then takes on a job for crime lord Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany, from Avengers: Infinity War).

That sets Solo in motion and brings other characters into the picture. What unfolds from there is a part heist and part Western film, as Han and Co. go about achieving their mission – it involves stealing something ultra-valuable and getting it somewhere else as quickly as possible – while making new friends and new enemies along the way. The former involves Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), the captain and original owner of the Millennium Falcon, and his first mate, a hilarious and outspoken droid called L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, from Fleabag).

There are bit part roles for Westworld’s Thandie Newton and director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) as well.

Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story
Photo Credit: Jonathan Olley/Lucasfilm Like the previous standalone chapter Rogue One, there’s nothing about the Jedi and lightsabers here, and even less about the Empire or the Force.

Similarly, all the new characters Solo: A Star Wars Story introduces are ultimately dispensable too, since none of them can show up in later entries. But unlike Rogue One, the film, seemingly with an eye on potential sequels – Ehrenreich has a three-picture deal in his contract – creates subplots that aren’t tied up properly by the end. It’s here that Solo even connects to the prequel trilogy from 1999-2005.

Unfortunately, there’s little justification for a second visit, when the first is rather unimaginative. Save for a few scattered moments, the film doesn’t grab you until an hour in. And though it’s got the makings of some unique action set-pieces, they aren’t handled in a way that would make them memorable.

Even when the Millennium Falcon is being attacked by TIE fighters late-game, there’s no sense of the excitement that was apparent in J.J. Abrams’ 2015 soft reboot The Force Awakens, and Rian Johnson’s 2017 follow-up The Last Jedi. Part of this stems from the botched handling of the production.

The original directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie), were fired over four months into filming, after clashing with Lucasfilm execs including Kasdan over their directorial approach. They thought they were hired to bring their comedic flavour to Star Wars, but their heavy improvisational technique – the duo sometimes shot a dozen takes that weren’t always in line with what the script said – didn’t sit well with Kasdan, and they were replaced by Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind), who’s seen as a safe choice. It’s a testament to Howard’s experience that he not only managed to keep the film on track for its scheduled release, but that Solo: A Star Wars Story feels cohesive despite being the product of two entirely different visions: according to a behind-the-scenes report, 70 percent of the finished film is Howard’s, with the rest being the work of Lord and Miller.

But because Howard was hired last minute to simply bring the script to life, the film lacks an authoritative touch and ends up feeling like a by-the-numbers bland heist film.

Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra in Solo: A Star Wars Story
Photo Credit: Lucasfilm Moreover, less than six months after Star Wars took some of its boldest steps courtesy Johnson – including a welcome dressing down of why trigger-happy hotshots can cause more harm than good – Solo is happy to play it easy.

A few unexpected twists towards the end, and the work of its top-notch cast – Waller-Bridge is excellent and powers some of the film’s best moments, Glover is instantly charismatic and a scene-stealer as the trailers promised, and Clarke lands the note she’s asked to play, that of an intriguing yet enigmatic female lead – simply aren’t enough. Despite how damning the preceding paragraphs may sound, Solo isn’t a bad movie per se. It’s just fine.

The film will help buff up the encyclopaedia pages in a certain period, give Disney another chance to sell more Star Wars merchandise, and lays the groundwork for sequels leading up to Episode IV – A New Hope (“Star Wars” for the purists.) But it never takes off in a fashion that would please its titular hero – John Williams’ iconic soundtrack is also on a leash for the longest time, unfortunately – mainly because it’s too predictable to make any wild manoeuvres. We’ll never know what Lord and Miller would’ve done with Solo: A Star Wars Story, even as the underlying story would’ve been the same. It’s also possible their version would have been horrible, and that Lucasfilm was right in removing them before it was too late.

But if Star Wars is going to keep swinging the pendulum back even as its world expands – reports abound of more standalone chapters with Obi-Wan and others, alongside all-new stories from Johnson, Favreau, and Game of Thrones creators – the least it can do is not be borderline cynical about it.

​6 things a wedding guest should never do, according to wedding planners

Anyone who’s planned a wedding will know that however much you love your friends and family, it’s normally the guests who cause the biggest headache when it comes to the big day.

From constant text messages about the local parking situation, to that one guest who indulges in one too many G&Ts, there are plenty of ways to put undue pressure on the bride and groom.

So how can you avoid being the wedding guest of nightmares? We asked four wedding planners to share their advice on things a wedding guest should never do…

1. Complain about the date

“Never complain about the date, especially if it clashes with a big sports fixture” says Carolyn Louise, a South Wales-based wedding planner.

While we can’t imagine many of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding guests complained about their nuptials clashing with the FA Cup Final, some couples to find themselves on the receiving end of guests’ disappointment regarding the wedding date – and it’s not going to make you popular.

It’s impossible for a couple to take every guests’ plans into consideration when picking a day (they will probably have checked the date with anyone considered essential before booking), so if the date isn’t ideal you just have to like it or lump it.

The same goes for other elements of the wedding, such as the location – if it’s inconvenient, feel free to politely explain that you can’t make it, but mouthing off to the couple will do you no favours.


Take ages to RSVP A common complaint among brides and grooms-to-be is the snail’s pace at which guests respond to invites.

“You must always respond within the timeframe on the invite” says Chenai Bukutu, a wedding planner from London. “Put yourself in the couple’s shoes – they will be relying on confirmation of guest numbers for their venue and caterers, so communicate in a timely manner.”

Once you have RSVP’ed you should be 100% committed to going to the wedding, rather than changing your mind if a ‘better offer’ comes up.

However, occasionally there are circumstances where you can no longer go to the wedding, for example due to illness, urgent work commitments or the death of a family member. “If any of these events occur, get in touch the the couple as soon as you’re aware that you or your partner can no longer attend, and explain the situation” says Carolyn.


3. Ask questions which you could answer yourself

There are a million and one details to think about when planning a wedding, and the last thing the bride needs is her Auntie Jane bombarding her with questions about whether the B&B will provide an ironing board.

Couples generally include as much information as they can in their invites, so it’s better to simply call the accommodation provider yourself, or Google details on transport or parking.

If you really must ask the bride and groom a question, do it as far as possible in advance of the wedding, before last-minute nerves have set in. “It’s ok to ask the couple questions a few months before the wedding; if it is less than a month, ask the venue coordinator, best man, bridesmaid or mother of the bride rather than bothering the couple” says Lisa Baker, wedding planner at Just Bespoke.

4. Quibbling over the guest list

Many brides and grooms are surprised to discover that some people deem the guest list to be negotiable.

All the wedding planners we spoke to were very clear – it is not okay to ask to bring extra people to a wedding.

“Weddings are one of the most expensive days of people’s lives, and guests should be grateful that they have been invited” says Carolyn.

Wedding stylist Katie Sutton agrees, saying “You need to remember that creating a guest list is very hard, and the couple can never please everyone. More often than not budget plays a big part. I’m sure that if a couple could, they would invite everyone, but you ultimately have to respect their wishes.”

Finances, the size of the venue and the prioritising of close family can all have an impact on who gets invited, so if you don’t get a plus one, try not to be offended.

The same goes for children – not everyone will want kids at their wedding, and as a guest you must accept this decision.

“While children can provide a lot of fun and entertainment, some couples would rather say their vows without a child screaming in the background” says Carolyn. “Think of it as a chance to leave the kids with a babysitter and have a night off!”

5. Trying to upstage the bride

We all want to look good when we attend a wedding, but there’s a difference between choosing a lovely dress and going out of your way to grab the limelight.

“Don’t wear white!” says Chenai. “Unless the bride has specifically said it’s ok, I would always err on the side of tradition.”

Trying to steal the couple’s thunder in other ways is also not advised. “No unplanned speeches or performances” says Chenai. “Unless you’ve been asked to contribute, don’t think you can rock the mic just because you’ve had a few glasses of fizz and feel extra confident.”

6. Causing trouble on the day It should really go without saying, but starting arguments, complaining or getting too drunk on the wedding day are all major no-nos.

“I’ve personally witnessed some outrageous behaviour at wedding that has caused the breakdown of friendships as a result” says Chenai.

Don’t complain about the food – the couple will have done their best to accommodate everyone’s dietary requirements, but it isn’t always possible to have multiple meal options (you can always quietly ask the waiting staff for some extra bread if you really are starving).

Telling inappropriate stories about the bride and groom is also discouraged, says Lisa (even best men should consider the suitability of their tales).

Above all, leave any family or friendship feuds outside of the venue – a loud argument is quickest way to get yourself blacklisted from all future events.


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Surf-Grip Takes Body Surfing To The Next Level

The Surf-Grip has had an interesting journey on its way to becoming what it is today. The prototype started life as a pool-noodle/trashcan lid combination. Thankfully, the design was refined and the Surf-Grip was born in San Diego, CA.

Catch Some Waves With Surf-Grip

The aptly named Surf-Grip is a foam paddle with a handle that beach-goers and surfers can use while riding waves to increase buoyancy and get a super long ride.

It is the innovation that body surfers have been waiting for. Read Next: It’s not just for surfers either.

Swimmers of all abilities can improve their body surfing experience with this handy aid. This water sports and fitness device increases your buoyancy so you can get a good ride. The Surf-Grip is a simple device: A pair of foam paddles with handles.

It is easy to pack up and take to the beach and easy to use. Whether you are an expert or a novice rider, you will be able to pick up the Surf-Grip and use it right away. It’s an affordable alternative to body boards or surfboards and besides, it’s just fun to have a new way to ride waves.

You can even get a new Shark edition with custom imprinting available.

Surf-Grip lets you catch long waves.

It’s Easy To Use

The Surf-Grip couldn’t be easier to use. Just grab the handle inside the Surf-Grip and catch some waves. Yes, it really is that simple.

A nice side effect of using Surf-Grip is that you won’t get board rashes and there are no leashes to get tangled up in either. It’s just you and the wave, which is a much more intimate way to ride that wave. You won’t even need to wear a rash guard.

Surf-Grip gets you in the action with the minimum amount of gear.

It’s just what you need for some fun in the sun at the beach.

Surf-Grip Takes Body Surfing To The Next Level

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