“Solo: A Star Wars Story,” the first “Star Wars” movie in my entire life to have come out where I think to myself, “I never asked for this,” is kinda sorta maybe directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Happy Days), and stars Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!, Beautiful Creatures), Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Zombieland), Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones, Me Before You), Donald Glover (The Martian, Atlanta), Thandie Newton (Mission: Impossible II, Westworld), and Paul Bettany (Iron Man, Margin Call). This film is the “Star Wars” prequel/spinoff released by the endless money-generators known as Disney. The film revolves around a young Han Solo, played by Alden Ehrenreich, as we get to know his origins. We also meet younger versions of Chewbacca (which if you have seen the main trailer to movie, you’d know he’s not THAT young), and Lando Calrissian. This film when you break it down is a heist adventure that takes place prior to the some of rebellious events we know in the “Star Wars” universe.
Going into this film I had a number of emotions on my mind. I was excited to see a new “Star Wars” film. Although I didn’t think it would be all that good. But since they’re owned by Disney now, and Star Wars=instant money, they obviously want this intellectual property shoved down our throats. I went to see this at 10PM tonight, I was originally going to see it at 7PM, but I couldn’t due to not knowing a certain event occurred around that time, and I spent $61 on NON-REFUNDABLE tickets. By the way, the person I handed the tickets down to, couldn’t even keep them because they were attending the same event as I! Plus, I was one of the numerous souls who bought their tickets pretty much as soon as they went on sale. As I spent my money on this movie, I was worried it was just going to be some corporate cash-in that only exists for no purpose of being compelling or a masterpiece. I was so worried that the intellectual property of “Star Wars” was no longer an idea of wonder or magic (funny how it’s owned by Disney now), and just a money maker. Based on what Disney has been doing to crank this movie out at a time like this, is basically making them look like the movie version of “Call of Duty.” I say this because “Call of Duty” releases one game each year and they have an enormous fanbase to back them up. Although when it comes to most of these games, none of them are perfect when it comes to story. Yes, a lot of people play these games for the multiplayer, but we’re talking about story and characterization here. I mean, heck! Apparently there’s a Boba Fett movie in the works! Yes, we had not really all that much exposure to the character as a whole, but that’s what makes the character mysterious and interesting! Disney wants to take the mystery of everything and reveal it all to you! It’s like if “2001: A Space Odyssey” had narration telling you what everything meant! That movie probably would still be interesting to watch, but it would be NOWHERE near the classic it is now.
Also, one of the biggest things tearing this movie apart is the production behind it. This movie is written by Lawrence Kasdan (right), who wrote three “Star Wars” films released prior to this one. His son, Jonathan (left) wrote the movie alongside him. The movie was originally to be directed by two people, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, both of whom have done collaborative work before on “The LEGO Movie” and “21 Jump Street.” The vision of the screenplay was not fulfilled, so Lord and Miller left their directing positions. Although they are credited as executive producers. After a rather short search, Ron Howard signed on as the movie’s new official director.
Ron Howard to me is kind of mixed bag when it comes to directing. I think he can definitely be a good director, but in recent years he hasn’t done the best work of his life. He can do really good movies like “Apollo 13” and “Cinderella Man.” And while I haven’t seen these, I will point out, the Robert Langdon film series of his, was generally not up to par of what a movie could be according to many people.
With all that being said, I can now tell you this is probably the biggest surprise of a movie I’ve seen all year. Based on what I just said up above, you probably could tell I thought this movie was gonna suck. Turns out it didn’t exactly suck. I wouldn’t call it great, not a classic, definitely not the best “Star Wars” movie, in fact when it comes the “Star Wars” franchise, this is a movie that would probably rank on the lower end for me. I will say there are more movies in the franchise that I like as oppose to dislike, and this is part of the great number of movies in the franchise that I like. In fact, of all the movies released in the franchise that I LIKE, this is probably the one I like the least. I mean, unless you count the 2008 “Clone Wars” movie which as of now I think is “alright.” Not great, but alright. I don’t know, I don’t think I’ve watched it since I was 9 or 10. I own it, but I haven’t watched it in forever.
Let’s get down and dirty and talk about the film’s main character, Han Solo. This younger interpretation of Han Solo is played by Alden Ehrenreich. I’ve actually seen Ehrenreich before in “Hail, Caesar!.” While I don’t exactly remember Ehrenreich’s character or performance all that much in that particular movie, I will say that part of why I don’t remember that character so much is because the movie itself is forgettable. Not bad, but forgettable. Here though, his performance is pretty good for an interpretation of young Han Solo. I wouldn’t say this is solid, A+, perfect casting, however there are definitely worse routes that could have been taken regarding the casting choice. And much like this movie in general, my expectations for Enhenreich performance-wise and capturing the spirit of Han Solo was pretty low. So I gotta give props to him for proving me wrong.
But let’s all be honest, when it comes to characters we already know, one shines as the star of the movie and that is Lando Calrissian played by Donald Glover. Once he was shown in the trailers, a great portion of the fanbase just basically agreed that Lando was perfectly cast. And in this movie, I gotta say, he is everything you see in the trailers, and everything you probably want young Lando Calrissian to be. He’s a gambler, he’s charming, he’s expressive, he’s enthusiastic, and he’s alert. What a f*cking guy! You see this in the trailer, but during the movie, Calrissian says at one point “You might wanna buckle up baby,” that line is just full of instant goosebumps shoved right into your pie hole! Overall, Glover gives a fine performance in this movie and you know what? If they do a separate Lando spinoff, it better have Donald Glover in it! YOU HEAR THAT DISNEY?! I’M GIVING YOU MORE MONEY, SHOVE IT UP YOUR A–wait, it’s Disney, they’re scared of this sort of thing. Shove it up your unicorn rainbow.
Now… Let’s just hope Deadpool doesn’t read that last comment.
And of course, another main character in this movie is Chewbacca. I feel like this movie did a really good job on 1: Giving us a Chewbacca that’s part-sweetheart and part-monster. And 2: Establishing the chemistry between him and Han. Chewie in this movie represents a Chewbacca that I’ve thought about for sometime in my life. What do I mean? Well to do that, let’s talk about the Russians. Not about vodka, not about Stalin, not about pee-pee tapes, none of that, but we’re talkin’ about the Russians! For those of you who are unaware, here is some text taken from the Wikipedia page for Chewbacca.
“It is said that Chewbacca’s name is derived from собака (sobaka), the Russian word for dog.”
Once I learned that, it kind of made sense. Chewbacca is kind of in a way, Han’s best friend. Not only that, but as you watch this movie, you see Chewie and he starts off like a wolf, a wilder version of what a dog could be, but as you go through the film, you see him become tamer. OK, not entirely, he’s still a sore loser. But seriously, this depiction of Chewbacca was pretty solid and so were the interactions between him and Han.
Now I just introduced the older characters and those are all fine and dandy. Now let’s move onto some forgettable… bland… less worthy of being cared about… newer faces.
Of the newer characters that make an appearance, I gotta say Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37 is probably one of the better characters of them all. But that’s not saying much, because for the most part, the characters are all kind of mediocre. Upon first seeing her, I was somewhat worried, because I was convinced that I was somehow seeing “The Last Jedi” again. What I mean by that is that one of her first lines sounds like a PSA or something you hear in a social message. You know how in “The Last Jedi” they had a social message against animal cruelty? It felt out of place in a movie which had that scene taking place on a certain planet that already felt out of place! Luckily, she’s rather funny. A little too cartoony in my personal opinion. I mean, I get it, these movies do have an audience of children, and if I were watching this as a kid, maybe I’d enjoy it, but I just wasn’t into it. But ultimately I just didn’t care all that much about her character. Although, I must say, L3 may have uttered the closest thing to a real life swear in the “Star Wars” saga. Be sure to look out for it, chances are you’ll hear it if you pay close enough attention.
I gotta say, one character that I can’t decide whether she’s just mediocre or really cool is Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra. She’s basically Han’s girlfriend, and that’s pretty much all I’ll say about her. Although, there’s a point sometime in the movie, where you see this transition of hers, I can’t decide whether or not I buy it.
One character I was kind of looking forward to seeing is Tobias Beckett, played by Woody Harrelson. He’s basically Han’s mentor and as the movie started and we got to know this character, I found him to be pretty nifty. As I reflect on what I saw last night, while we got through the movie’s runtime, I feel that Beckett had interesting moments here and there but ultimately, towards the end, he almost got to the point of crashing and burning. Woody played him well, but of course he did, he’s Woody, what else do you expect?
Let’s talk about the movie’s worst character, Paul Bettany’s Dryden Voss. Dryden Voss feels like a character that just exists to move the story along. You barely even see him, and he has numerous lines here and there. But as the movie progresses, he’s made out to be a bigger threat than not just anyone else, but also a bigger than than he seems to be.
And you know what? That is the biggest problem I have with this movie, there’s no threat. There’s no stakes. There’s nothing standing in our heroes’ way. I feel like if this movie established in some way at some point, even if it required a total rewrite or pushback on the release, a main villain, the final product would be better. It doesn’t even have to threaten the galaxy like Darth Vader or Kylo Ren. Without them, this movie just feels like sequences of events that play out on a screen.
And on the topic of sequences, I don’t know if any of you saw the trailer with the train scene. I was actually rather excited because one of my favorite duels in a movie, “Spider-Man 2,” takes place on a train, and I always imagine trains as great locations for action sequences. And the train sequence in this film, much like some other moments just feel forgettable or long. There was a point where I was out of the theater, and looking back on this film, thinking that the train scene might be longer than the duel between Anakin and Obi-Wan in “Revenge of the Sith.” Although with that fight, I admired the long time it went on for, it was exciting, epic, and thrilling, it was just satisfying. The chase on the train in “Solo” just almost makes you beg for it to be over. I gotta say, it’s almost, if not quite there, to be in the conversation for the most boring or worst action scene in “Star Wars” history. Now I don’t think that’s the case. I think the Battle of Naboo might be worse, but this is certainly a contender.
But at the end of the day, the question we all should be asking is… Do we need “Solo: A Star Wars Story?” Honestly, no. I’m a “Star Wars” fan, you have no idea how much this franchise has shaped me and a lot of other people. Although, just like a number of other fan groups, whether we’re talking about the realm of movies, TV, video games, music, sports, we’re not blind (for the most part). We’re not stupid. We have the absolute ability and complete freedom to judge something related to our fandom, whether we’re referring to something good, bad, mediocre, we have the right to let out our subjective thoughts. And my SUBJECTIVE thoughts are that this is OBJECTIVELY unnecessary.
One thing that I love about “Star Wars” that they usually seem to get right is that they know how to build lore and background related to characters, locations, and crazy happenings. When it comes to “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” there’s nothing really new except mainly some locations that you probably don’t want to know more about (although that train in the beginning was pretty cool), and some characters that you at most kind of give a crap about. Most of it is just explaining what happens to Han Solo, and if you follow the franchise and know the franchise, chances are you’d know what some of these things are. When this movie was first announced, I figured that the Kessel Run would play such a huge part in the film, it would be an intense, crazy, wild moment. And you do get the Kessel Run, and while Han Solo delivers an awesome line some point in the film related to it, the run itself was a tad underwhelming. I keep mentioning this film is not all that bad, but if you judge this film entirely on what it does to previously established “Star Wars” lore, it almost feels like it diminishes the magic behind all of said lore. And I feel like this is why I’m somewhat apprehensive towards where “Star Wars” is going. It’s not a wonderland anymore, it’s a factory, and Disney is running that factory. Pretty soon we’re gonna know about every single character and now we have to accept their stories no matter how s*itty they are. For those of you who are excited to see a Boba Fett “Star Wars” film, I’m glad you’re happy, but in all seriousness, his story could suck and potentially ruin the character.
I will say though, out of all the previously established lore, none of it seems to play a big deal in the entire picture except for the Millennium Falcon and getting to know certain characters. How Han Solo got his name can be in that sort of discussion as well. But in all reality, there’s nothing in this movie that feels like a big deal. I had fun, but the movie, as fun as it was, needed more of an oomph to make me like it better.
I must bring this into the discussion, and based on some of what I said before on this very post, this may make me hypocritical. As much fun as I had, I feel like if you took out the name “Star Wars,” erased everything related to “Star Wars” that has been once established, this probably would have been one of the most boring movies of the year. And I gotta say one more thing… what was it? Oh! I remember now!
THE TENTACLES ARE BACK BABY! DISNEY CAN’T KEEP THEIR TENTACLES OF THE TENTACLES IN THEIR “STAR WARS” MOVIES! My biggest problem with this is that Robert Downey Jr. doesn’t make a cameo appearance, like, maybe in narration, and say “Get lost, Squidward!”
In the end, part me doesn’t know how I feel entirely about “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” I enjoyed it when I saw it. And you know what? I’d probably see it again and still enjoy it. Maybe not in the theater, but when it comes out on home video, I’d grab a copy for myself and watch it. It’s definitely better than “The Last Jedi” and absolutely much better than I thought it would actually turn out. “Solo” is a fun popcorn flick, but I feel like this is going to be one of those movies, somewhat like “The Last Jedi,” where opinions might mix across the board. Out of every movie in the “Star Wars” franchise, this has the most corporate feeling of all of them, and you may not notice it or feel it while watching the film itself. Although when I got to sit down and write this review, those sorts of thoughts came into my mind. I wouldn’t say I DON’T recommend “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” but to say I do would also be stretch. You be your own judge, but I kinda liked the movie. I’m gonna give “Solo: A Star Wars Story” a 6/10. Also, just to go over how forgettable this movie’s characters are, I forgot that Thandie Newton and Jon Faverau’s characters even existed! For those of you who follow me on Stardust (I need to get back on that!), I said in my review for the teaser trailer for this movie on there that this felt like it should be called “A Star Wars Product” as opposed to “A Star Wars Story,” because a story would exist for the purpose of being remembered and told for days, weeks, years, decades, centuries, however long you consider a long time. A product would just purely exist for two reasons. 1. To entertain the masses for a period of time. And 2. (Mr. Krabs voice) MONEY!
Thanks for reading this review! And while we are on the topic of things will make Disney richer, allow me to say that I already have my tickets to go see “Incredibles 2!” I have a day that I want to publish my review if possible, and that day is Thursday, June 14th, and if possible, I’d like to get it out before most of the opening Thursday night showings occur. You might be thinking, “Hey, Jackass! How are you gonna review this freaking thing before the opening night showings? That’s when… the film opens… and you have tickets.” Yes, I do have tickets, but they’re for Wednesday. And no, the film technically doesn’t open on that night, it opens on Thursday. But exclusively at IMAX locations, you can see both “Incredibles” films back to back as part of a double feature for one night only. I already purchased tickets for that, so if you are literally trying to be an imitator of me, go buy your tickets now! Stay tuned for my early review of that along with other great content! I want to know, did you see “Solo: A Star Wars Story?” What did you think about it? Or, what is a “Star Wars” spinoff you’d like to see? It can be for an original character, or a previously established character, whatever. Force those thoughts down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!