Perhaps the best and most succinct one-line review of Solo: A Star Wars Story comes from a pro movie critic. Peter Rainer of the Christian Science Monitor writes, Of all the Star Wars-themed movies, this one is the closest to a Saturday afternoon serial/western. Don’t expect more than that.
You know what? That’s EXACTLY what I needed after the last Star Wars movie completely underwhelmed me. Rainer hits the nail on the head. What any Star Wars movie should be? An entertaining time at the movies. Something for the kids to fantasize about, and maybe an escape for us grown up kids.
Solo: A Star Wars Story Review: Thumbs Up!
With all the craziness surrounding the franchise, this film comes as somewhat of a relief. Solo is a return to form, after The Last Jedi went sideways.
To be absolutely and unequivocally clear, I love everything about Rey as the lead hero in the new series. I also think Kelly Marie Tran is a fine actress. And Rian Johnson is a talented filmmaker, but not a good fit for Star Wars.
(Social media once again can be blamed for pitting people against each other, over meaningless bullshit.)
What I didn’t like about Rian Johnson’s Last Jedi was its crappy storytelling, and especially its (mis)treatment of the Luke Skywalker character. Tran did what she could as a professional, to act out a part that was poorly conceived and executed (along with everyone else’s in that movie.)
But I digress. Solo was just plain fun. Maybe because it was safe and familiar.
Origin stories can’t offer much new in a saga, but the story within the story can be immersive. Alden Ehrenreich does a fine job as a young Han Solo.
I was really impressed with Donald Glover as Lando. He added a whole new layer to the flamboyant space pirate. In this film, Calrissian gets more lines and scenes than the previous films combined. Loved it.
Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) is Chewbacca. I mean, they could’ve given him a mohawk, or dreadlocks? Pants?
What made Solo so damned fun?
The fan part of me really enjoyed seeing an imperial shipyard in action. So that’s how they build a big, fat star destroyer. Neat!
There’s a love story woven into the movie that hits the notes you’d expect in a space fantasy for kids. Nothing too risky, and it works. Emilia Clarke played the role of Qi’ra, Solo’s first crush (as far as we know.)
I thought director Ron Howard could’ve borrowed a bit from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and made the Qi’ra part more scrappy, like Karen Allen’s Marion Ravenwood. But then, Han Solo isn’t Indiana Jones…
Speaking of Ron Howard, thank heavens he got the call to get this movie on track. With Howard, you know what you’re going to get. And it’s often grade-A Hollywood-good. Not always great, but solid and good.
The franchise needed that predictability now (quality predictability, mind you), before Episode IX takes another shot at something truly epic. No pressure, J.J. Abrams.
Read no further if you haven’t seen the movie yet. Or, if you haven’t seen the movie and you don’t care about spoilers, read on!
Of all the things this movie did well, the most important one completely escaped me. Han shot first! I went a few days before some YouTube video reminded me of this. Woody Harrelson’s character, Beckett, is on the receiving end.
Harrelson isn’t an actor who’d jump to the front of your imagination as a Star Wars character, but man, he pulls it off quite well. His line, “That really hurt my thumbs” while firing the Falcon’s cannon was pure Woody.
Harrelson’s Beckett takes the laser blast from Han with aplomb. Falling to his death with words of wisdom for his assailant.
Which begs the question, why the hell couldn’t George Lucas have let Greedo take it like a man/space-fish in Episode IV? Disney would do much to repair the saga by re-releasing A New Hope with Han shooting first, and ONLY.
I was pretty happy with how the Millennium Falcon became a character in its own right. There’s even a trusty droid, Val, who’s database (i.e., “brain”) gets uploaded into the Falcon, taking a cue from Avengers: Age of Ultron.
We get to see how Han won the Falcon from Lando, and how our hero abused the absolute shit out of it, for the sake of making the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs. Heady stuff…
Perhaps the craziest spoiler of all is the appearance of none other than Darth Maul via hologram, near the end of the film. Holy shit! That guy got cut in two in Episode One, didn’t he?
That was what I hoped would happen to Jar Jar Binks. But now that we know slicing someone in half with a light saber is not a practical way to kill someone in the Star Wars universe… Maybe a Death Star would do the trick?
Needless to say, it’ll be interesting to see if Maul’s reappearance in movie canon leads to another spin-off that features Ray Park as the horned menace.
I’m willing to bet we get a Clint Eastwood style western, with Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobi. I can see him now, staring down Park’s Maul at the Mos Eisley Corral.
Do you love Star Wars, and enjoy a fun movie?
Then go see Solo! You may not come away with the same sense of awe that the original trilogy produced. But you will come away with the sense that you just escaped for a few hours into the Star Wars universe you fell in love with as a kid.
Many movie goers might reasonably be suffering from Star Wars fatigue. We’re used to one new movie every three years. Here we are, getting two in six months! It seems a bit much, and I hope Disney considers limiting releases to once per year going forward.
Fat chance of that, though. These movies are cash cows. Just look at the Marvel Universe. They pump out 2 or 3 new comic hero movies a year and there’s no slow-down at the box office.
Regardless, I was ready to take some of the tonic that Solo offered, after last December’s shit-fest with The Last Jedi. Now to get a back story with Luke Skywalker as the archetype he truly is. That’d be a fun ride too.