This review is spoiler free. Spoiler discussion will follow the rating.
First off, I’m not going to call all of these spinoffs “a Star Wars story”. I refuse. Secondly, you need not be worried. Solo isn’t as bad as you expected. It’s not even prequel levels bad. But it’s not good. Solo is aggressively fine. Some might view that as a win. I personally view it as a downward trend, especially considering the climactic “twist” reveal at the end. But for now, let’s let Solo stand on its own.
Our favorite smuggler gets an origin story. Because imagination has no place at Disney anymore. We quickly watch Han graduate from street punk on Corellia to stormtrooper bringing ‘liberty’ to the galaxy. Through some luck and quick-thinking Han stumbles upon a criminal outfit that he promptly joins. From there, the life of crime takes on the thread we expect. Heists, gambling, making a crew, and proving he’s the best pilot in the galaxy. A LOT happens in this movie. The emotional thread connecting everything is that when Han left Corellia, he left his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) behind, vowing to make enough money to come back and rescue her. He soon finds out that she climbed the criminal underworld a lot faster than he did.
Fan service galore in this movie. Just a minor list of things in Solo that are mentioned in other movies: the Kessel Run, his dice, and winning the Falcon by playing the card game Sabacc. Other things you didn’t need to see but are going to: becoming friends with Chewie, how he acquired the iconic blaster, how he got the name Solo, becoming friends with Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), and why he got involved with the Hutts.
Han’s interactions with Chewie are by far the best part of the movie. Second best would be Woody Harrelson’s character, which is reminiscent (but much more involved) of Benicio Del Toro’s morally conflicted character from The Last Jedi. Ehrenreich is fine as Han, nothing special. Glover looks the part but he’s also just fine. Everything is….fine. There’s a lot of cool set pieces, good CGI and such, but the film thinks its a lot funnier than it is. It’s not. If this wasn’t a Star Wars film, we’d all ignore it just like we did that Valerian movie. But since it is Star Wars, we have to see it. And we have to watch it justify the dumbest plot point of The Last Jedi by basing every criminal act around obtaining fucking fuel.
And of course, instead of this being a one-off like the much better Rogue One, Solo is a clear set up for sequels. Barf. There is a huge twist at the end and I’ll explain later why I ultimately think it’s dumb. Because it’s just so comic book-y. Which leaves me viewing Solo as just a money making venture. Not an original story to be told for it’s richness and Universe building, but a story told to fuel the Disney Star Wars money fire. Have to justify that 1 billion dollar purchase somehow.
2 out of 4 stars.
WARNING BELOW THIS POINT THERE BE SPOILERS.
Alright, here we go. Darth Maul is a stupid reveal. And here is why I think that. First, you should read this nice summary of where exactly Darth Maul has been all this time considering it’s been at least… 20 years since his death: https://www.polygon.com/2018/5/25/17393680/solo-star-wars-story-surprise-cameo
It’s stupid for this reason: the cartoon series. Now it is a known fact that the Clone Wars and Rebels are canon in the Star Wars universe. Guess where Darth Maul has already showed up several times? Guess where he’s already died?? So A. this reveal has given me fucking homework to do. And B. has absolutely zero payoff as a villain in future movies. Why? BECAUSE HAN SOLO DOESN’T KILL HIM. Obi-Wan does. Why would you introduce a villain that the main character isn’t going to fight? And if Han does fight him, why would he dismiss the Force so blatantly in A New Hope when he witnesses its power firsthand? So, there are zero stakes if we have a villain who shouldn’t fight the main character and who we knows dies by someone else’s hand. Which means that, stay with me here, maybe they are setting up the Obi-Wan movie. Which makes my theory of all this shit becoming a MCU clusterfuck just that much more plausible. Without all this previous canon, it would be an interesting and surprising reveal (several people gasped in the theater). But my friend saw it coming because he has a PHD in Star Wars and recognized that in the cartoon, Darth Maul takes over the syndicate that Qi’ra works for. I liked Solo more before this reveal, I liked it less after.
Other tidbits: Lando definitely fucked that robot.
Does every Star Wars need a sassy robot now? Because I hated that one.
Why would Woody Harrelson’s character strip a sniper rifle down to a pistol and give it to Han? I’d rather have a rifle.
LOL why does Maul have to ignite his lightsaber? Just to show us he still has it? You’re on a hologram dude you’re not threatening anyone with that shit.
When Lando just left with the Falcon, I laughed out loud. Great scene, totally in character.
The most interesting aspect of the film to me was Han fighting as a stormtrooper. Now, that’s something I’d like to see. On every world so far the Empire has just been in control. We never see how they take control and establish themselves. It had to be a bloody conflict.
I love the Kessel Run. Super fun.