Completely unrelated to this movie, I feel like tagging these films with “A Star Wars Story” is borderline insulting. Do they honestly think the movie-going public won’t know that these are Star Wars movies? I guess Marvel does a similar thing by sticking “Marvel’s” in front of a lot of its movies, but somehow that bothers me less.
At any rate, it’s time to review Solo! In the way of disclaimers, I am not a Star Wars megafan, but I could play one on TV. I’ve watched all of the movies multiple times, and I know a healthy bit of the lore. I’ve just never connected with it in the way that I know a lot of people do. I’ve also gone on record many times that I think the original trilogy is actually not that good — from a purely cinematic perspective. The acting is stilted and the directing is dubious. The thing that Star Wars really has always had going for it is its story and its characters, so what could go wrong when basing an entire movie on one of its best characters?
The answer is… quite a lot actually. This movie isn’t bad. But it’s also not good. If that sounds confusing, then you’ve read it right. This movie is just fine. It’s not going to make you mad, or put you to sleep. It’s not going to excite you or make you feel like you finally know the mysterious backstory of Han Solo. It will just exist in front of your eyes for 2 hours 20 minutes, after which point you will politely exit the theater, go home, and think about something else.
Solo suffers from the same problem that Rogue One did, which is that the ending is foreordained. If you already know what’s going to happen, it makes it really easy to guess what might happen to each of the characters. Oh, there may be a zig or a zag here and there, but by and large you know that the characters you’ve never heard of will not end up on the Millennium Falcon. Also, the movie asks you to swallow a lot when it basically shows you that every… single… character trait that Han Solo has (even his name!!!!) was built in the span of a few days. I don’t know about you guys, but I like to think that it takes a smidge longer for people to become who they are.
The acting is mostly good. Paul Bettany, Emilia Clarke, and Donald Glover all shine here, as well as the voice of Phoebe Waller Bridge as L3. The new guy in the Wookie costume does well enough, though if you’re looking for it, you can tell it’s not Peter Mayhew anymore. There’s something different about the way he carries himself. But really, you want to know about the man who was asked to fill the largest shoes in Hollywood. Did Alden Ehrenreich become Harrison Ford? Meh. Sometimes. Occasionally you’ll believe that he grows up to be Harrison Ford, but mostly Alden teeters between an impression and a complete disregard of his forebearer. Contrast this with the masterwork that is Christopher Pine’s Captain Kirk, and you’ll be left wanting.
The movie can be boring at times, especially towards the beginning. It’s not that there isn’t action, it’s just that it is too often predictable, or uninspired. The better parts of the film are the character moments, and those are woefully under-utilized. As mentioned before, it also takes some punch out of it when you already know the story of the Millenium Falcon’s ownership, or that Han and Chewy are going to become buddies. Still, there are a few scenes that will get you revved up to finally see your heroes in action together, or to see the troubled relationship with Lando begin to form.
By and large, this movie is just unnecessary. It’s not telling you anything new, or informing Han Solo (or Chewbacca) in any meaningful way. It feels like those prequel comic books they make with some movies that exist just so they have something to hand out at events. Having spin-off movies set in the Star Wars universe is a great idea, but maybe they should consider making them about events that we don’t already know all of the details of.
If you like going to the movies and you like Star Wars, then this won’t feel like a complete waste of your time, but if you’re lukewarm on the very concept, you won’t lose much by waiting for Netflix.