I want to begin this review with some transparency about myself. I’m a fairly big Star Wars fan. While I may not be a cosplay-level fan, I have read a number of books on the matter. I also decorated my entire bathroom in a Star Wars theme and even named my dog Princess Leia, who of course is a Pom-Chi. As a big-time fan, based on what I had been hearing leading up to the release of Solo, I was already expecting to be disappointed. I will do my best to explain the pros and cons of this movie to an average movie goer. I will inevitably mention a few hard-core fan opinions but avoid nerding out too much. Yes, I will have to also discuss a few spoilers because there are certain things that need to be addressed but I will offer an obvious warning prior to any of that. So, without further ado; let’s get into the Solo movie review.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is fairly self-explanatory in its title. It’s a prequel to the original trilogy (Episodes 4,5,6) and happens roughly 11 years after Episode III, Revenge of the Sith. It’s a story about Han Solo’s background and how he became a smuggler. At this point in the Star Wars universe, the Rebellion had not yet begun – or at least not commonly known of. The universe is run by the Empire – who is seamlessly destroying any opposition – as well as crime syndics, which this film focuses more on.
If this was simply a separate movie set in the Star Wars universe about entirely new characters, it would actually be fairly good. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Possibly the best thing this movie has to offer is actually showing the audience all of the stories we have heard about from the infamous smuggler Han Solo and his Millennium Falcon. You get to finally see everything previously told about Han, Chewy and even Lando. I would actually recommend rewatching the original trilogy to fully understand all of the callbacks this movie offers because there are quite a few. Unfortunately, only a few characters truly stood out as impressive – Chewy and Lando. While it is practically impossible to mess up Chewy, Donald Glover does an excellent job of portraying Lando Calrissian. Even without seeing him, the audience gets hit with nostalgia from Glover’s impersonation of Lando’s voice.
While we’re on the topic of actors and characters in the film, let’s begin with the obvious criticism, Han Solo. Nothing against Alden Ehrenreich but he is simply not Han. He didn’t sound or even act like Harrison Ford, regardless of the numerous acting lessons. Even certain things that are completely out of his control such as height or face shape were totally different and I had a hard time convincing myself that it was supposed to be Han I was watching. The rest of the cast essentially brought nothing to the film. Thandie Newton as Val seemed wasted and Emilia Clarke as Kira seemed corny. Woody Harrelson is an amazing actor but there was only so much he was able to do with his character, Beckett.
The absolute worst character in this film however, in my opinion at least, was the droid, L3-37. Its entire contribution to the film was being a droid-rights activist, failed humor relief and a historically awkward love interest to Lando. Other than the fact that droid-rights makes no sense in the Star Wars universe because droids are built as applications for specific purposes, L3’s obsession just came off as annoying.
The writers clearly wanted her character to cut any tension with comedic relief, as we have seen from droids in essentially any other Star Wars film. Yet, L3’s humor consisted of a conceited demeanor towards everything and everyone. The cherry on top however, was the bombshell of L3 and Lando’s relationship. As a Star Wars fan, this was spitting on the grave of Lando Calrissian, one of the most beloved characters in the franchise. As a movie goer, this was confusing at best. L3 may have not been quite as annoying as Jar Jar but in my opinion, did more damage to the Star Wars universe as a whole; affectingly becoming the new, worst Star Wars character. That’s right; I’m going that far with it.
SPOILERS: Skip ahead to conclusion to avoid
First and foremost, the best thing that happened in this movie was L3 getting killed. I don’t mean to be too morbid but that character was a complete waste and a nuisance to the entire story. Also, how can I be morbid if it’s a droid? I did however enjoy the story of how Han and Chewy met, the Kessel Run and Han and Lando’s card game for the Falcon. The love interest between Han and Kira seemed forced and unnecessary, although I did enjoy the crime syndicate aspect. One of the greatest call-backs was when Chewy ripped the guard’s arms off. I never imagined we would ever actually get to see it happen but Han’s threat in A New Hope was apparently based on past events. The most important thing to discuss in this spoilers section however was Darth Maul’s appearance at the end as the Crimson Dawn.
First of all, I want to mention my disscontempt for seeing Darth Maul and not getting the Phantom Menace score, specifically Duel of The Fates. Instead, the entire movie sounded more like something out of Lord of the Rings. I am fairly mixed on this ending; whether it’s a shameless attempt by Disney to throw us any cash-induced nostalgia they have left, or actually be an interesting twist and exactly what we have been asking for. I have no doubt Disney green lit the resurrection of Maul with the intention of making more money off him but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad thing. Fans have been asking for the return of Maul since he was unnecessarily killed in the same film we met him. While Disney has done a great job of destroying any non-film cannon fans love, Maul was in fact brought back by popular demand with robotic legs in the 2008 animated series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
I understand the timeline is a little confusing since he supposedly died at the end of Phantom Menace but because he was 22 years old in that film, he would be 44 in Solo – a reasonable age considering Yoda’s accomplishments at the ripe age of 900. Maul will clearly be used as a tool to hype up another Star Wars film in the future and l predict he will appear in the new Boba Fett movie. It actually makes sense because the Boba Fett movie would likely take place around the same time as Solo. Not to mention Maul is apparently a mafia boss now, something Fett is keen to be attracked to. Darth Maul in a Boba Fett movie would be Star Wars nerd heaven. So to answer my own question from before, I think it is definitely a shameless cash-induced nostalgic tool by Disney to sell tickets but also exactly what we have been asking for.
Per usual, the Chairgatin’ movie review scoring system consist of American flag recliners, which are good for obvious reasons, and fedoras which are bad, also for obvious reasons. 5 recliners represent the best and 5 fedoras represent the worst. I’m awarding Solo: A Star Wars Story, three recliners; a predictable yet fun movie that is disappointing for the Star Wars universe.
To be honest, I may be a bit too critical on this movie but I did warn you, I’m pretty big Star Wars fan. It’s a fun movie that will surely have rewatchability. Personally, I think it would have been much better if they would have just stuck to Han, Chewy and Lando and cutout the other wasted story line. I don’t think I have ever said this referring to a Star Wars movie but I would actually recommend just waiting until it’s on Netflix.
To summarize: If you want to see a Star Wars movie about a young Han Solo, just go watch the original trilogy because that’s exactly what those movies are. Regardless, Solo is an enjoyable enough movie but a disaster for the Star Wars universe.