Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

A ponderous, weakly-acted, B-feeling slosh of a movie with no direction or reason to exist beyond mindless consumerism & cash-cow milking, Solo continues Disney’s unfortunate erasure of everything once great & endearing about Star Wars. 4.2/10.

Plot Synopsis: Young Han Solo finds adventure when he joins forces with a gang of galactic smugglers and a 190-year-old Wookie named Chewbacca. Indebted to the gangster Dryden Vos, the crew devises a daring plan to travel to the mining planet Kessel to steal a batch of valuable coaxium. In need of a fast ship, Solo meets Lando Calrissian, the suave owner of the perfect vessel for the dangerous mission — the Millennium Falcon.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

Review

Star Wars is one of my favorite movie series ever. I remember watching it religiously as a kid and cannot even put into words how much the films (and especially the original trilogy) mean to me. That is why it hurts so much to see it be erased and turned into a joke by fucking Disney, who seem like they have a bunch of monkeys handling Star Wars after this and the unholy experience that is probably singlehandedly responsible for killing Solo’s Box Office in The Last Jedi. I got to see Solo on a free pass and, while that was even a tough decision after how much TLJ hurt my soul, I decided to give them a chance again. However, I made a big mistake as Solo is a ponderous, weakly-acted and scripted, B-feeling slosh of a movie with no real soul or reason to exist beyond mindless consumerism, and continues Disney’s sad erasure of decades of lore and everything once great and loved about Star Wars.

Let’s start with the cons since there are so many more of them. First, this movie has no reason to exist. While Han Solo is one of the most beloved and iconic characters in arguably all of movie history, a prequel movie to his arc in Ep. IV-VII seemed ill-advised even when it was announced. We do not need anything else on him as his arc is near absolutely flawless from beginning to end, so why poke the bear and bring the possibility for hyper-passionate fans to be potentially disappointed? The answer: money and an insatiable lust by Disney to milk every dollar out of this franchise and shit the pockets of fans. With Disney upping the number of Star Wars films to 2-3 a year in a soulless, almost-factory like pace (they announced a Boba Fett movie on the day Solo released too.. BOBA FETT. Yeah probably not their best idea..), it really shows in the quality and casts the self-fulfilling prophecy that they do not care about these movies or the franchise as anything more than a business asset, in stark contrast to original trilogy films which were years in between and fittingly stand the test of time. That is my biggest problem and what insulted most people about Last Jedi: the way it spit on the original trilogy and storyline/characters that got them there, throwing it all away in a childish mess-of-a-script insult in hopes of setting up a new storyline with young actors that can carry them through 15-20 more movies. Glad to see they’re encountering some problems with that. Assholes.

Next, how different it feels than a Han Solo/OT movie. While Donald Glover and Emilia Clarke do well in their roles (discussed later), the rest of the movie is seriously problematic and head-scratchingly cast. For one, Alden Ehrenreich does NOT feel like Han Solo.. He tries and I give him credit for that and trying to do something different with the role, but he does not really look like and SERIOUSLY lacks the charm and charisma Ford had. In fact, it almost feels like heresy seeing anyone else in that role, especially an actor who is relatively a nobody and you can feel his nervousness and unconvincing acting in some parts. Also, Woody Harrelson is miscast. I love Harrelson as an actor and the different feel and humor he brings to a lot of his roles, but he is not right in a gangster film as one of the supposed-to-be intimidating thug guys as he just.. isn’t.

Going off that, the movie is filled with Disney-isms and cheesy jokes that, although thankfully toned down from the insult-level they were in Last Jedi with Porgs and the like, are still noticeable and offputting. Things like Han yelling “Captain, Captain.. I’m hot” in the middle of a battlefield and Han and Chewie taking a shower together just feels unholy and like they were meant to squeeze laughs out of a 5-year old instead of the core audience of Star Wars which are older. The actors and actresses also look TOO young for this movie and like teeny versions of Han Solo and others, when this movie is supposed to happen right before and lead into Ep. IV. It instead looks like it was supposed to be 10 years before them, which makes it even harder to take seriously.

The pacing is also horrific with bizarre and almost unbearable-to-watch inconsistency and poor execution. The first half is ok with a good opening and some cool action sequences like Han’s rain-soaked racer chase through the streets of Corelia, that dissolves into seemingly percussive non-stop action with little story, but that devolves TREMENDOUSLY in the 2nd and 3rd acts, which are so mind-numbingly boring that they almost made me want to leave the theater in boredom and even put the woman next to me in the theater to sleep! They tried to stretch a pretty thin story into 2 hours and 15 minutes and it’s just brutal trying to get through it in the end. The middle act has little to no action at all and tries to fill these gaps and holes desperately with shocks and mini-arcs all over the place, but are a mess and end up causing far more problems than they would have had the movie been 30, even 45 minutes shorter.

Finally, that final cameo. The inclusion of Darth Maul was an undeniably surprising twist in the end that makes for good shock value, but actually really hurts the story and is one of the worst Disney Star Wars moments yet (and there have been A LOT). Let’s not forget the fact that the last time we saw Darth on the big screen, he was sliced in fucking half by Obi-Wan and fell down an endless tunnel seemingly to his instantaneous death over 19 years ago in Ep. I. He was a really cool character and phenomenally designed with malice and instant intimidation, so he was resurrected due to fan demand on the muchhhh smaller scale in the Clone Wars TV show. Even with that and the maybe 1-2% of general audiences who would be serious enough fans to actually know that vital piece of information for this to remotely seem possible, why would they bring him back to this movie and make him a big kind of puppet-master pulling the string throughout the entire film?? He has not and is not mentioned in the next 8+ FILMS in Star Wars, had a satisfyingly ended although small character arc in Ep. I, and is shown on screen for 1 minute and (unless they have future plans for him which I don’t see how they could bring him into say Ep. IX) will be a piece of information never resolved or explained. It is just shocking that they would do this and in all honesty kind of insulting to further mess up the Star Wars timeline and make one of the most potentially powerful moments in this movie in Han’s following shootout with Beckett (Han shot first!) underwhelming in comparison.

Now, while I have many more flaws with this fail of a movie, I like to be fair and discuss some positives as well. First, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. Donald Glover is one of the biggest and most talented artists in the world right now, from music to TV to now movies, and he brings a freshness and accuracy to Lando that is incredible to see and feels classic Lando. His scenes with Han like in the casino scenes, swagger, and ending are the highlights of the movie and bring a smile to your face no matter how bad you think the rest of the movie is. Emilia Clarke is good as Qi’ra too – beautiful and deep as a well-written female lead with surprises and a dark side. The cinematography and action sequences are pretty good overall as well. The opening of the movie actually tries a different palette than we’re used to in Star Wars, with a noir-lit/gangster film and colors/cinematography that are surprisingly cool and muted which is refreshing.

The action sequences are pretty serviceable as well like in the blue-lit fighter pilot chase through hyperspace, escape from the monumental figure and fiery atmosphere, Corelia rain-soaked racer chase scene, and Han’s final showdown with Dryden Vos. It’s a shame these action scenes were so few and far in-between and head-scratchingly clustered in weird locations to prevent from full impact/ wow-factor, but they are at least some cool parts from this movie. Han’s character arc is overall pretty satisfying in this movie too as it adds a level of depth and relatability to Han Solo that hadn’t really been seen before making it such that he was an innocent kid trying to get off of Corelia with his love, but was betrayed by everyone and ends up going on a quest solo to find his place in the world (something everyone can relate to). Finally, the Ron Howard reshoots are pretty well-hidden and any tonal inconsistencies pretty hard to spot, which is a hard thing to do and respectable point, even though the direction can be rudimentary and heavy-handed at times.

Conclusion

Overall, while Solo does get a few things right, it gets far too many wrong and is a continution of the insult Disney is doing with one of the most beloved franchises of All-Time. Ponderous, weakly-acted, and problematically paced with a B-cast and no real soul or justification for existence beyond mindless consumerism, Solo makes me raelly wonder if I’ll ever see another Disney Star Wars movie again.

Official CLC Score: 4.2/10