Well, if there was ever a film that had a LOT of potential baggage surrounding it, this is the one. Solo has a freakin’ wardrobe trunk of baggage around it.
So, as we must all know, Solo: A Star Wars Story, is about how Han Solo met Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian, and the origin of pretty much every other thing we already know about Han Solo. It’s essentially a heist film with all of that wrapped up in it.
Originally directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the guys that brought us the really fun first Lego Movie, the folks over at Lucasfilm – well, Kathleen Kennedy mainly – didn’t like where they were going with the film. So they were fired and replaced by Ron “I’ll do whatever you tell me” Howard. Basically, Lord and Miller were making a film that had too much of their own voice, and Kennedy wanted them to stay on script and keep the same feel as all the other Star Wars movies. On one hand I get that, on the other, what’s wrong with changing things up a bit? But whatever.
Ultimately, Solo feels a lot like playing fan service and maybe less making a really compelling and satisfying Star Wars film.
One of the surprises for me was that Alden Ehrenreich, who is playing the young Han Solo, is actually more competent than I anticipated. He’s much better than Hayden Christensen was as Anakin Skywalker. But then, a bag of sand would have been better than Christensen. He was just so bad.
Ehrenreich actually does a decent job for the most part. And Donald Glover does a fine job of being Lando Calrissian. I could see him getting his own origin film, of which there is talk.
A definite highlight, though, is the droid L3-37, voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, Crashing). She’s the one character that feels like she might have been part of the film that Lord and Miller were making. She’s unique, funny, and colors outside the Star Wars lines.
Solo: A Star Wars Story has everything it needs to be a solid Star Wars movie: cool action sequences with spaceship chases, suspenseful heists, witty banter, lots of cool “oh, that’s how that happened” moments. So, why does it feel sort of “meh”?
For me, many of the lines that were clearly supposed to be funny, simply weren’t. And there is so much of that fan service stuff that it feels like the movie revolved around that instead of the other way around. Sure, we see how Han met Chewie, how Han got his signature blaster, we see that infamous Kessel run, and all the things that, on the surface, are fun to see, but don’t add up to a great film by themselves.
Solo: A Star Wars Story isn’t terrible. It’s just ok. I was entertained, but not wowed. In fact, I enjoyed The Force Awakens more. That film gave me more ‘feels’ than this. And Solo certainly does not compare to Rogue One.
At the end of the day, Solo gets three kittenhands from me. It won’t go down as a great Star Wars movie, but it’s mildly fun. Although, if you have a big screen TV at home, I’d say you could maybe wait to see it there. Either way, it’s going to make a bunch of money.
~ Neil T Weakley, probably going to see Deadpool 2 again this holiday weekend.