So there’s absolutely no secret that the overall fan reaction to “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” was one laced with heavy doses of outrage and many mixed feelings about “The Force Awakens” and “Rogue One” to boot. Disney is landed butt first onto a slippery slope that they need to recover from as quickly as possible. I know leadership has a lot to do with what’s happening within the two seperate ships of Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm and I’m dying of curiosity to see how long the powers that be decide to tolerate what Kathleen Kennedy and crew continue to spew out versus the polished products that Kevin Feige and his magnificent team have consistently delivered for a full decade.
I bring that up to start this article because, despite the current track record of Lucasfilm on their hit or miss movies and the apparent lack of attendance I witnessed on last night’s viewing of “Solo: A Star Wars Story”, the movie turned out to be a lot better than what I thought it would be. Honestly, I was literally so nervous that I almost called it off and opted to do something else with my evening (like write my darn “Deadpool 2” review). But I stuck to it and pushed on to the theater with my wife bolstering my courage along the way. And I probably held my breath for the first fifteen minutes of the movie. I just couldn’t bare to see another brutal take on the Star Wars universe. But, back to the attendance. For a Friday night in the area of this particular theater location, it was simply way too empty (maybe 20 folks at best) for a Star Wars movie on it’s opening weekend. It was pretty sad to see and very discouraging for me as a fan. I meant to take a screenshot of the seating availability screen to illustrate but forgot… I’m sorry for that. But, in any case, I and the other fans shouldn’t be the only ones discouraged. Disney, Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, Rian Johnson and whatever other folks who’ve climbed out of the primordial Hollywood ooze should take this as a sign that their primary customers (Star Wars fans everywhere) and the general population will not stand for the pointless storytelling on the grand mediocre that they’ve decided to adopt.
Ok, no more ranting… I promise.
This is essentially a Han Solo origin story with it starting off with a small portion of his time on Corellia, his home world and the world most often attributed to the building of many of the ships with see in the Star Wars universe, including many of the Star Destroyers and the Millenium Falcon itself. Han gets in major trouble with the local queen of the underworld and is forced to flee the world which starts his adventure into a brief stint in the service of the Empire and eventually into his life of crime and smuggling.
“Solo” was much better than I thought it would be for sure. The story, upfront, turn out to be cohesive overall. There were of course plenty of easter eggs that the storytellers managed to keep even in the flow of the story and even one large one at the end that actually makes sense if you’re up on the full scheme of Star Wars lore. These of course are relatively minor and “Solo” managed to have a strong enough story to tell on it’s own so the easter eggs were like the sprinkles on top of the icing… not too much in the way. The story doesn’t get too carried away with locations, but takes us to two worlds which were mentioned from “A New Hope” in the forms of Corellia and Kessel. We at least get a decent peak at those worlds but not too much focus on them which I think was a good thing for time’s sake.
One of the things I was really happy about was the characters. All of the performances were pretty solid and I really only have a minor complaint about one (more on that later). The most obvious focus concerning characters was Han Solo of course. I managed to avoid as many spoilers as I could and tried to stay away from opinions and speculations but did run into a couple of episodes of my favorite Youtube blogs where I heard many concerns expressed whether Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover could pull off their performances of Han and Lando respectively. The general consensus was that Ehrenreich may or may not succeed but no one seemed remotely concerned about Glover’s performance. And let’s be honest, Glover is currently the more well known actor I think. I felt the same and figured Glover, Clarke, Harrelson and Paul Bettany would be just fine but didn’t know anything about Alden ehrenreich. And that was the cool thing about it. He was totally fine in the role and I walked away with respect to his acting. When we first meet Han, I could tell right away that Ehrenreich was going for his own nuanced take on Han Solo but he certainly gets the general feel of Harrison Ford’s cocky, overconfident, charmer version of Solo. So, I was good with that. I know, I know, everyone would love it if scientists could morph Harrison Ford into his younger self so there could be a proper executing of the role, but that’s certainly not in the pipe at this time in history. Despite what the haters say, Ehrenreich did just fine. As mentioned, there was no weak performances really except for some commentary that could’ve been a little more dramatized I think.
As mentioned, the story managed to come together pretty well considering the horrid rumors that were circulating the web. Whoever made the decision to bring in Ron Howard to clean things up is perhaps the unsung hero for this film. The story wasn’t anything not seen before and wasn’t particularly fantastic in anyway and really served to showcase the development of Han Solo as a person. That’s to say, the events that put him on his path to smuggler glory with a hint of foreshadowing thrown in to indicate that one day he would be an altruistic leader and hero. That said, it was basically a heist story that showcased the potential of our good friend Han. I’m not a huge fan of heist stories, but I was good with everything once they got past the main portion of it. After that, I thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns, relationship building and character development that ensued.
I’ll throw in this last thing and bit of spoiler – there was a battle scene where we see Han as an Imperial soldier. The battle was enjoyable because we actually get to see different types of troopers fighting in a trench style conflict. It felt like “Saving Private Ryan” meets “Wonder Woman”. I thoroughly enjoyed the mayhem of the scene and it was effective in pushing forward the storyline, hooking Han up with future teammates. Gritty and fun to say the least.
Because the movie was more character focused, we didn’t get to see more of Corellia and Kessel which I found disappointing. For what those planets are really know for, those aspects weren’t explored enough in my humble opinion. Once more, I thought Kessel was undermined further by the overarching storyline to find fuel, making it the main reason to visit the spice planet. It was weird and I felt they could’ve picked another planet, a new planet, to explore this possibility. I don’t know, but maybe I was missing the point. Also, the planet I mentioned earlier where the Imperials were fighting only gave us glimpses of the world. The best part was after they left the atmosphere to escape and you could see the massive explosions from battle across a large area of the planet’s surface. This was a direct indicator of how devastating wars in the Star Wars universe could be.
There was certainly more social commentary to behold in this film. SJWs to the rescue, saving the world one preachy story at a time. Ok, I won’t rant as promised, but seriously these new films have been pretty up front with it. The commentary to start the film introduces the idea of a fuel shortage within the galaxy. Maybe this is justification for “The Last Jedi” when we discover that fuel and it’s abundance in the galaxy is apparently an issue…smh. But this is the big thing everyone’s after in the film. Get that precious cargo of fuel or die trying. This was probably the biggest thing that made me shrug in the movie because I just didn’t think it was a thing in the original films or the prequels or any of the Expanded Universe stuff. Now, this highly advanced civilization has an issue with this? Ok, suspension of disbelief in full effect. I have a hard time buying that the vast, still largely unexplored Star Wars galaxy has a shortage of any kind up to and including Kyber Crystals. Again, I digress.
The other issue I think is with L3-37, the comedic droid of this movie. I liked the character overall but the ranting about droid liberation got to be a little overdone and I found myself thinking, “Ok, ok… we get it. You want you and your people to be freed from human oppression”. Don’t get me wrong, I was all about the concept of a droid fighting for it’s freedom, but I think there’s a missed opportunity that Lucasfilm could’ve exploited here. When introduced as a droid who was less than satisfied with droid servitude, it could’ve been a subtle beginning to a story line I’ve always wanted to see in the Star Wars universe… a droid rebellion. She could’ve been the first martyr in the growing movement of Cylons… uh, I mean, droids that were seeking to be independent. That should really happen. Really though, another minor complaint, but I liked L3-37 overall, another funny droid with spunk added to the universe.
Who This is For
Another minor spoiler – this movie pokes at the ‘Han shot first’ dilemma. It lays the foundation that Han would more than likely do something like that if necessary. Ok, besides that, it was absolutely for anyone who is a Star Wars fan and enjoys a good Saturday night out with the family for good movie viewing fun. If you go in with an open mind, the movie will be good. If you go in with intense anticipation you will definitely have to view it a second time, after calming down, to get all it has to offer. Overall a good movie experience.
***Scale of 1-10: 7.5
|Solo: A Star Wars Story|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ron Howard[a]|
by George Lucas
|Edited by||Pietro Scalia[b]|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios|
|Running time||135 minutes|
|Box office||$47 million|