After several major production issues plaguing its release, Solo: A Star Wars Story finally arrives to cautiously optimistic audiences everywhere. With directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller fired (replaced by Ron Howard), an editor canned, half the original film scrapped, and acting coaches galore, Solo was a ticking time bomb of disappointment. And after viewing it in a half-filled theater with not so excited fans, I can in good faith report that yes, the production issues showed. Boy did they show.
Solo: A Star Wars Story details the origins of the beloved smuggler Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich). From his humble beginnings of poverty, to his service in the Empire, and finally to his days of smuggling, we see Han go from point A to point B. And, that’s about it. Along this all too familiar journey we meet his mentor Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), as well as his first love Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). Both of whom help to shape Solo into the man we know him as today. Kind of.
While I was personally dissatisfied with both Rogue One and The Last Jedi, never has a Star Wars film felt this dirty. While plenty of problems with the film can be contributed to the rocky production, many creative choices made felt just like a tug at your wallet. Even the special cameo of a long lost Star Wars character felt like cheap gimmick, and honestly a tad corny too. A good general description of the entire flick.
The bottom line for Solo is that’s a generic sci-fi adventure, full of poorly written characters, a terrible portrayal of Han Solo, and even a ridiculous social justice warrior robot (unfortunately pulling Star Wars into the 21st century culture).
If there was a saving grace of Solo, it was definitely Donald Glover and his portrayal of Lando Calrissian. Everyone is praising his role in this film, and there’s good reason for it. Glover was a phenomenal choice for the smooth-talking space pirate, and the role felt tailor-made for his personality.
Despite the great performance of Glover, emotional investment was far from Solo‘s forte. With characters coming and going throughout the picture without the slightest bit of care or concern coming from the audience. Not once was I sad or surprised about a character’s death. And from observing the dead silent crowd I watched Solo with, I don’t think anyone else was concerned either.
Perhaps the biggest infraction in the whole film, the true reason this fundamentally doesn’t work as a Star Wars film, is that they portrayed Han Solo incorrectly. When we first meet his character in A New Hope, he’s a genuine narcissistic jerk. All he cares for is money. Period. Contrast that to this film, where he does care about others and not just money. The filmmakers put up this front like he’s a conflicted antihero, but we the audience know better. They couldn’t end the film portraying Han how he is in A New Hope, because that wouldn’t wrap the story up in a nice package. Instead, fans must now reconcile the inconsistent personalities of Han Solo between the two films. Oh joy!
On top of that, numerous double crosses and betrayals from several characters will leave you asking the simple question, “What was the point of all this?”. The double crosses are so strange and frequent that it may leave some young viewers confused and repel others (like myself) from ever watching Solo again.
I guess those with an unwavering love for all things Star Wars will probably find only minor inconsistencies and idiosyncrasies that hinder their viewing experience. For those not as indoctrinated, Solo: A Star Wars Story was a venture into completely unnecessary territory. What was supposed to be cool and exciting was underwhelming, and what was supposed to make Han look like a badass was just cheesy in the worst way imaginable.
In my mind, how I imagined the Kessel Run went down (as well as how Han got his blaster, and how he met Lando and Chewbacca) is much more creative and entertaining than what’s portrayed here. In fact, I’d rather pretend that this isn’t even cannon to the Star Wars Universe, like how Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is to Indiana Jones. A cash grab farce.
There are so many great stories you could tell in a universe as vast as Star Wars, so why waste the time on something like this that’s best left to the imagination?
The Verdict: D-