Does the Star Wars Universe have some rule against things being aerodynamic or obeying the laws of Newtonian physics? I’m not complaining per se but it begs the question, what exactly does Lucas Ltd. and their art designers have against symmetry. This ungainliness also happens to apply to Solo: A Star Wars Story throughout that, while visually arresting and entertaining, doesn’t quite know what tone it’s trying to strike. It’s persistently self aware to its own detriment falling closer on the side of the cacophonous fan service that is The Force Awakens than the darker, bolder Last Jedi, to whatever effect that might have on the particular viewer. To put a finer point on it, if you preferred the former you’ll have a fine time with Solo but if the latter is more your cup of tea, you may find the attempts at depth or a darker tone to be superficial and without fidelity.
The only real description of Alden Ehrenreich and his portrayal of a young Han Solo is that he’s perfectly acceptable. No more, no less. I actually somewhat respect his choice to make no attempt at impersonation, outside of a few gestures or mannerisms, it avoids the danger of becoming parody. So in this I have no complaints but in reality it’s the big guns like Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany that elevate the whole experience. And Emilia Clarke finally gets a real role with some substance outside of the Game of Thrones Universe, she’s a real joy to watch in a film that occasionally tries to be darker and drearier than it ought to. And as expected, Donald Glover delivers but I object to calls for a Lando spin-off movie. That character works precisely because of how little we know about him, it’s the mystery that makes him so charming and appealing and having already insisted on pulling back the veil on Han, I hope desperately that they leave just one stone unturned.
As for the story itself, well. It’s lazy screenwriting to just assume the audience is going to care for its protagonist without giving a reason. Out of context Han is introduced as a generic guy with pluck and a pretty girlfriend but in an entire 145 minute film there’s little to no explanation of who he is. Or why. Did he lose his parents to gangsters? Did his parents let him down or inspire him? Was he bullied as a child? No clue, which is a pretty big misstep in a film that’s billed as an origin story. Further than that Solo suffers from the same problem that admittedly Last Jedi had in that the film climaxes too many times. The third act is lousy with action beats and twists and betrayals with a clear attempt to set the stage for a sequel which unfortunately leaves this whole thing feeling both overly long and incomplete. Not to mention the biggest what-the-fuck cameo moment that is so random and unnecessary I’m starting to think that a real contempt for the audience might be starting to show.
That might sound like nerd-rage rearing it’s ugly, neck-bearded head but for the record I am not a die hard Star Wars fan by any stretch. I have great affection for the series and wore out several VHS copies of the original trilogy as a kid but it’s never been my jam, not really. I’ve never owned a t-shirt or anything, is what I’m saying. But that cameo I’m referring to, well, frankly, it makes no fucking sense and required a few minutes of quiet reflection to confirm that I hadn’t, in fact, lost it. I’ll let others debate the finer points, I just felt that without further details there was an insistence from the higher ups to create some kind of “wow” moment, you know, for the kids to talk about but instead they landed more of a “….wait, what?”
So what’s the verdict? Well, I’ll put it this way. I did not pay to see Solo: A Star Wars Story and that’s my favorite part of the whole experience. I’d say it is worth seeing if you’re a completionist and just have to see how Han wins the Millennium Falcon from Lando, in that case go nuts. But I wanted to see Last Jedi again after walking out of the theater. Same with Rogue One, even. I may throw on Solo in the background someday while I’m cooking. If it ever pops up on a streaming service. That I already subscribe to. Maybe.