Before you proceed any further, know that I will be dropping massive spoilers in this review. If you have not seen the movie I recommend you stop reading now. You have been warned!
Well, I did it! I went and saw Solo: A Star Wars Story this weekend. I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about the film and whether I would enjoy it as The Last Jedi left a very bitter taste in my mouth when it comes to Star Wars, but the trailers looked like fun and so I figured I would just go in with no expectations and see if Lucasfilm could redeem themselves.
Well, they did – somewhat. Solo is not the greatest Star Wars movie, but it’s definitely not the worst. I would probably rank it after Rogue One as my 5th favorite Star Wars film.
Solo is fun. That’s what it has going for it, and it’s what has been missing from Star Wars since the prequels. It taps in to the fun of the original Star Wars (and even Empire) with some great jokes that are actually funny (I’m looking at you, Last Jedi) and some great dialogue exchanges between Han & Chewie that I felt did a good job of introducing the relationship we see in the Original Trilogy and even in The Force Awakens.
I really enjoyed Alden Ehrenreich‘s depiction of Han. I never felt like he was doing an imitation of Harrison Ford, it just felt like he was taking the spirit of who Han Solo is and giving it his own energy. And since this is a young Han (early 20’s I assume) it works. I like the character and I rooted for him during the film. He’s bold and charismatic with that Solo charm, but also a bit naive and overly eager to make his mark. It’s definitely the Han Solo we know and love, but before he’s really comfortable with himself – which is what this Han is supposed to be.
I thought Chewbacca was great. In The Force Awakens & The Last Jedi there was something about Chewie that just felt off and didn’t feel like the Chewie I grew up watching in the OT, but in this movie he felt more like that Chewie that I grew up with. I thought Joonas Suotamo really did a great job inhabiting the suit and giving us our favorite Wookiee. The dynamic between Chewie and Han was probably the best part of the entire film. It’s their relationship that really solidifies them in the original films and you see it begin here and grow in to a mutual respect and friendship that evolves throughout the movie to the point where we see them by the end of the movie as the duo they will eventually become.
Lando was portrayed by Donald Glover and as everyone has already seen in the trailers, he did a great job. While there were a few over-the-top moments that felt a little out of character, I definitely felt that Glover was channeling Billy Dee Williams at times in the way he spoke and the way he moved. What’s interesting is that by the end of the movie I didn’t really like Lando as much as I thought I would. He’s a bit of a creep – which I guess is part of his character since he betrays his friend in Empire.
The other “character” from the original trilogy I want to discuss is of course the Millennium Falcon. We’ve all seen it in the trailer, all shiny and new and fancy looking, but it makes sense when you see the movie why it looks this way and how it becomes the ship we know and love in the OT. I wasn’t sure how I felt about L3‘s ‘brain’ being downloaded in to the Falcon and giving the explanation to 3PO‘s comment in Empire when he mentions to Han, “I don’t know where your ship learned to communicate but it has the most peculiar dialect”, but after sitting with it for awhile after the movie I guess I’m OK with it. Some people are complaining that Solo attaches explanations to even the most mundane of OT story elements, but I didn’t think it was too much and they were more or less nods to the original that are just overt enough to connect but not too in your face as to be obnoxious.
With all of that out of the way I’ll go in to more detail as to what I liked about the film.
Solo is fast-paced and keeps the story moving right along. It doesn’t dawdle and from the first scene of the film you’re in the thick of it. I mean, there are some slower moments where we get exposition and some character development, but it’s timed right so as not to bore you or take away from the pacing of the film. I will say that I was surprised how many characters die in this movie. I guess I shouldn’t be that surprised after Rogue One, but honestly it just seemed that they were killing off characters left and right in Solo.
In addition to the pacing I liked the dialogue. I thought the Kasdans did a good job with the script overall and the only thing that sort of took me out of the story at one point was Han’s overuse of the word “hell”. Nitpicky thing to be sure, but it just sort of got to me for some reason. Anyway, as I said already the movie is fun. It doesn’t take itself overly serious and has fun where it needs to but balances a fair amount of tension and action along the way and gives a well-rounded feel to the entire movie.
I liked the world-building that went on throughout the movie where we see hints at different types of Imperial soldiers that we haven’t seen before. I enjoyed seeing Han as an Imperial soldier and how bad he was at it. It was also interesting to see the Empire in its infancy after going from the Clone Army of the Republic to regular human soldiers who are now fighting to keep control of the galaxy. It was just enough to give you a sense of the bigger picture going on in the galaxy at the time, but not too much to take you away from the focus of the movie, which is of course Han Solo.
While I did enjoy the film, there are things about it I thought could have been better and also some things I just didn’t really care for.
Lando’s co-pilot, L3-37 was annoying and obnoxious. I thought she was too much and I wasn’t disappointed in seeing her get shot. I thought Lando’s overall reaction to the droid’s death was a bit overkill, but probably moreso because we didn’t get a lot of time with those two before this happens and while a relationship is established it didn’t feel like enough to make me feel anything for her. I felt more of a connection with K-2SO in Rogue One than I did with L3.
Overall I felt that most of the secondary characters were not very well developed. From Dryden Vos to Rio & Val, I just never got enough of them to really feel invested in them. I wish they had explored more of Beckett‘s gang and given them more screen time so when they start dying off we sort of care. I think Val was probably the character in that gang I cared about dying the most due to her relationship with Beckett. It did feel a bit overly dramatic though, her sacrificing herself the way she did. I also thought Beckett’s later reaction to her death was pretty non-existent. We see him standing over the graves of (I’m guessing) Rio & Val, but he has very little emotion and instead starts to talk to Han. While it can be chalked up to him not caring and showcasing what he tells Han about never trusting or getting close to anyone, it did make the character a bit shallow. I would have preferred to see some emotional moment with Beckett mourning his love.
Enfys Nest ended up being a very odd reveal to me. Beckett calls them marauders and mercenaries and yet once Enfys removes her helmet and reveals a young freckled, red headed girl suddenly they’re all friends?
It didn’t make sense. Did Beckett not know who was behind that mask? I’m assuming not since at one he point he referred to Enfys as a “he”. This whole subplot seemed confusing and honestly a bit contrived. It was a way of shoe-horning in the Rebellion and it didn’t really add much to the story.
The big cameo in the film was of course Darth Maul. I had heard that he was in the movie, but I didn’t know to what extent. The scene with Qi’Ra and Maul conversing seemed a bit tacked on and more fan service than anything else. Especially when he lights up his lightsaber just to give the film a lightsaber somewhere in the movie.
I liked that they brought back Ray Park to play Maul and that they used Sam Witwer‘s voice from the Clone Wars & Rebels cartoons for him, but I still feel like it didn’t belong. I understand the desire to link these offshoot movies with the main story line films, but it just didn’t seem that this particular character needed to be in the Han Solo film. I will say though that I’m so glad they didn’t try to put Boba Fett or Jabba in this movie. I’m sure they’ll be in the next one though.
Do I want to see more adventures with Han & Chewie? Yes! I definitely think the dynamic between this iteration of these characters is enough to make any future films a lot of fun!
There are a lot of nods to Star Wars characters, planets and events in this film that are not instantly recognizable to the casual viewer, but to the hardcore fans it seems that the filmmakers really took some time to do their homework and drop some easter eggs that do not disappoint. There’s even an Indiana Jones nod in this as well as the original Han Solo & Lando novels from the 1980’s.
Solo is definitely worth seeing if you’re a Star Wars fan and has given Disney’s Star Wars films a second chance at life for me. If this movie had been as bad as The Last Jedi I was ready to call it quits for new Star Wars movies going forward, but after watching Solo it seems that with the right writers & directors LucasFilm is able to resurrect some of that OT magic that made Star Wars great in the first place. Ron Howard did a great job with this film, especially considering he was called in last minute and had to re-shoot most of the movie. As I said, it’s not the best Star Wars movie ever made, but all things considered it’s a lot of fun and worth the price of admission!