Disney’s purchase of the STAR WARS brand was something I never dreamed I would live to see. Considering the uneven and lackluster nature of the prequels (particularly ATTACK OF THE CLONES and THE PHANTOM MENACE — REVENGE OF THE SITH being the only saving grace, albeit flawed, too), I wasn’t sure if their inevitable sequel trilogy would be any better. Happily, for the most part, it was. THE FORCE AWAKENS may have been a callback to A NEW HOPE, and THE LAST JEDI, for better or worse, was a daring, controversial turning point, but I found both films to be far more compelling than Episodes I & II of the franchise. In between, Disney has also provided us with an “anthology film”, ROGUE ONE, which was quite good all around. Now along comes yet another “anthology film” for STAR WARS, this time focusing on the series’ most famous scoundrel, Han Solo. This one had a much more rocky road to completion — apparently the original directors assigned to the project were fired, and a new one, none other than Ron Howard (director of the much underrated fantasy WILLOW — still one of my favorite movies), was brought in to reshoot scenes. Based on this production nightmare, one would assume that SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY could very well be a disaster. Thankfully, it isn’t. Simultaneously, though, of the new STAR WARS movies, SOLO is probably my least favorite of the four so far.
Don’t get me wrong, SOLO is not a bad movie at all. It is competently made, well cast, and moves along well for the most part. But compared to what I may argue would be its more ambitious and even daring predecessors, SOLO seems a little too “safe”. The stakes in this tale aren’t as high — it’s basically about a younger Solo, and so there aren’t going to be any major casualties like there were in the previous entries. Consequently, it also lacks the “must-see” factor that was there even for the prequels. Perhaps the worst I can say about it is that it’s a bit more forgettable. Other than a few standout action sequences and great performances, I’m hard pressed to remember a lot about SOLO.
After the generally great Force Awakens, excellent Rogue One but fundamentally flawed Last Jedi, my Star Wars enthusiasm was starting to dip, but Solo has restored my faith. When the Disney era was announced I was looking forward to the Skywalker trilogy, whilst Rogue One and Solo seemed like stories that didn’t need to be told. Turns out I was completely wrong. Whilst TFA/TLJ are targeted at the mainstream audience (I’d argue to their detriment), the spin-off movies are turning out to be the ones where long-term fans can get the best Star Wars content. So, if you’re experiencing Star Wars fatigue, I’d give it one more shot and you might be pleasantly surprised.
(And mild spoiler! – there’s even more to be appreciated in Solo for the Clone Wars / Rebels fans).
So why three and a half stars out of five? The main reason is because I didn’t really find a lot of the new characters all that remarkable or interesting. It’s not the fault of Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, or Paul Bettany — they all breathe life to their roles, but none of them really stand out in any way. Perhaps a second viewing will change my thoughts, but I honestly didn’t remember much about these new guys worth talking about. That and the storyline, although interesting, does drag at times, particularly the last act. Still, the script by Lawrence Kasdan does contain enough barb and wit from the characters to provide a humorous tone for what are mostly one-note roles. Musically, too, the score is lacking compared to what we’ve heard from John Williams — it’s not John Powell’s fault, he does the best he can, but I’m hard-pressed to remember a cue.
Don’t take any of these complaints to suggest that I dislike SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY. Despite its faults, it’s still a competently executed entry and is worth viewing at least once. Simultaneously, though, it’s not one that I’m so eager to see again on the big screen, partially because it doesn’t really do anything that we didn’t already see. All in all, SOLO is good, but not great — all things considered, it’s better than it has any right to be, but it’s not really a “must-see”. At least it beats Episodes I & II.
Star Wars fans, please get off the script for a moment and realize that you are hating on the wrong movie! We do need to send a message with our wallets for all of the insults, not only within “The Last Jedi” and then also by Lucasfilm officials and creators afterwards. However, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is not anything like the political horror message they’ve used the New Trilogy for.
This is a great Star Wars film made for the Star Wars fans who’ve been here all these decades. It’s full of continuity not only to the standard films but also from the two acknowledged animated series and some nice chunks of the EU as well. Ron Howard is clearly a Star Wars fan who wanted to send a love note and he delivers in spades.
I was ready to hate this movie all day long, just like all of you, but I broke the boycott once I started hearing from the few non-schill critics still out there. After two viewings, now it’s easily one of my favorite Star Wars experiences… ever! The payoffs are great, there’s plenty of action, and tons of fan love around every corner. The film ends setting up a potential new film, or series of films, firmly rooted in real Star Wars to run parallel to Episode IX and Rian Johnson’s super-SJW Newer-New Trilogy soon to follow. Let Supreme Empress Kathleen Kennedy have her utopia of a never-ending war on the Patriarchy in those New Trilogies. I’ll take a “Rogue One” or a “Solo” every other year happily as the Star Wars where I am still welcome and we fans can still be one of the most inclusive, enthusiastic groups in the world.
I have two main fears. One is that general audiences will walk out saying, “it was a good action film but little more than a popcorn flick.” So much of what really makes this movie great takes a degree of Star Wars knowledge beyond just the main films that the average movie goer is going to have a lot of the depth go over their heads.
The other is that the Star Wars backlash movement has built to such a frenzy that the boycott-brigade are now completely incapable of coming down off their hate. This shows in all the major YouTube commenters and the typical genre websites that are roasting “Solo: A Star Wars Story” for no actual good reason. If you do go to these sources for your reviews open your eyes and ears; all you’re hearing is rants that sounds oddly just like… SJWs. It’s sad how Kennedy’s success in dividing the fanbase has generated so much division (by design) that now those who should be celebrating this film are missing out on the fun because they won’t retreat off their positions that this film is going to bomb, actual quality be damned.
In ending, save your boycott energy for Episode IX where those we oppose will be back with all of the social justice posturing JJ Abrams and Kennedy can bring to bear. Don’t take your hate out on “Solo!” Please, we need to reward Ron Howard’s efforts and ensure these great Anthology films continue and don’t get squashed by Disney bean counters.
Think about it, TFA and TLJ made big money. This irrational boycott and hate-fest is significantly driving home a false narrative that “Solo” is a bomb. If you’re a Disney executive what will you conclude? As a business-minded complete non-fan? Obviously if we tank this film Disney will respond with more of TLJ. Don’t back the wrong play and also become the movement we’re opposing. Let yourself have an open mind, don’t be programmed by online hate, and go let yourself enjoy all the great things waiting for you at the theater with this movie. Let’s celebrate the quality and have something to unite around again
An enjoyable adventure with a surprisingly good young Han Solo in Alden Erenrich. Smaller scale than the Star Wars saga movies, Solo is a more straight-forward action-adventure movie, lacking the operatic drama of the Skywalker saga. A tale of an orphaned street kid, with dreams of becoming a star pilot, who becomes embroiled in a shady underworld, Solo is full of light-hearted, romantic action beats and the writers delight in scattering esoteric fan references and playing on nostalgia – you’ll see how the Millenium Falcon ends up looking like such a charming ‘piece of junk.’. Its plot may be by the numbers, and its twists telegraphed from miles away, but there are a few decent surprises and lots of laughs. It’s needlessly convoluted in places and supporting character motivations are underdeveloped, but the fast-paced heist plot is entertaining and, despite lacking depth, the characters are colorful and fun to spend a few hours with, especially Donald Glover’s Lando and his droid, L3 (Pheobe Waller-Bridge).
Solo is proof that Star Wars movies don’t all need to be event movies. The Star Wars galaxy has many corners to explore and, with more standalone Star Wars ‘stories’ in the making, fans can look forward to an array of adventures, each bringing their own take on the universe. Solo, like many of the Marvel movies, is a solid entry into a canon that, while not setting the world on fire, retains the integrity of the franchise and builds out a framework for fans and storytellers to explore for years to come.