I saw Solo, and while I was somewhat hesitant going in, I was at least hoping it to be a solid and fun heist movie. The initial reviews seemed to point towards “Alden Ehrenreich isn’t a great Han Solo as we know him, but if you can forget that, it’s all ok”. That would have been just fine, I’m not as emotionally tied to Han Solo as some are. Unfortunately, the movie is a near-complete mess. It’s made up of pieces that could fit together well, but in practice don’t. None of the jokes land with any force, several major plot elements make no sense whatsoever, and it ends up just being a complete waste of time. The movie has nothing interesting to say, there’s no there there, and the entire thing is simply trite. Donald Glover’s performance as Lando is entertaining, particularly his capes, and L3’s robot rebellion is probably the best part of the movie. My overall impression of this movie is that they got a bunch of people in a room to do some free association about what reminds people of Han Solo, and they just made that into a checklist. I imagine something like this:
- Millennium Falcon. Nice ship. What’s up with the two things in front where there should be one thing?
- Not the lightsaber guy.
- The Kessel Run but that line about 12 parsecs never made any sense. Better explain.
- Sometimes he runs away from things and then accidentally runs into the thing he’s running away from. Do that again! So funny.
- He used to be a pilot in the Imperial Army.
- No one has properly examined the provenance of his name. Better explain.
- He humorously calls his furry friend “Chewie”. That might be short for something. Better explain.
- Said furry friend likes to play 3D chess. Who does that?
- Said furry friend was rescued by Han at some point, so he sticks around. Better explain.
- Remember, no lightsabers, no matter how much you like that noise. Do a thermal detonator joke instead.
- Lando is a dude.
- His career before Star Wars is deeply connected to the origins of the Rebellion. No wait, it’s not. Do that anyway though.
- Holy shit we forgot about the dice.
A brief interlude: the dice are not a thing. The dice are never explained as a thing of importance. They just … appear one day and they’re supposed to be this totem for Han. There were some dice hanging in the Falcon cockpit for one brief moment in the original movie as a joke, they were not inscribed with an alien language, and both this movie and The Last Jedi have somehow latched onto them as if they were some iconic element that represents everything about our favorite gambling scoundrel in one neat little golden package. Except… no. There’s no backstory, there’s no meaning, and there’s no actual emotional weight. On second thought, maybe this is a perfect metaphor for this movie.
Some other things in no particular order that don’t work:
- The first sequence doesn’t fit together. I guess that trying to escape and then running into the people he was escaping from is “a thing that happens to Han” now, but this is really silly for it to be a thing that happens over and over again. The setup is out of place – it seems like this entire first part was written for a 16 year-old Han, and it might have worked ok if they did that, but then it might have come off as an awkward replay of the opening scene of the Star Trek reboot.
- I don’t like that they made Lando an out-and-out cheater. He’s a manipulator, sure, but that entire sequence left me with a really bad taste in my mouth, and that kind of behavior would definitely have gotten him killed at some point along the path _waaaay_ before this. I liked the performance, but this felt really wrong.
- Qi’ra should not have been a love interest from Han’s childhood (er… earlier adulthood?). Not everything has to be a connected thing.
- Han joining the Imperial Army as it’s presented here makes no sense. I haven’t seen Clone Wars or Star Wars Rebels, but this is supposed to be some amount of time before the beginning of Star Wars. The Empire isn’t really THE EMPIRE yet, until the Emperor dissolves the Senate at the beginning of Star Wars. Han joining the Imperial Academy is… signing up to work for the legitimate government. It would be much more believable if that was where he became disillusioned with the atrocities they were committing. Artfully done, this is probably a whole movie by itself.
- Wait… was Chewbacca straight up murdering and eating people in the pit before Han came along? Somehow he can’t eat a porg, but this is fine?
- It makes no sense that an orphan from Corellia speaks Kashyyyk.
- I’m still not sure why the Kessel Run is a thing with a name that people do and other people recognize.
- So… L3 is a crusader for robot rights, leads an actual robot rebellion (successfully, I might add), and Lando’s response is “we’re just going to merge you with the navigation computer for the ship condemning you to a lifetime of horrible slavery but at least you’ll be close to me forever… until I lose you in a card game to evidently the galaxy’s worst smuggler who will himself eventually just misplace you and you’ll end up in a junkyard for a while”. But then you’ll end up with Rey, which I guess is nice. Please don’t let this be a thing in the next movie.
- None of the heists actually make any sense. We can’t invade this rival gang’s turf because we have an uneasy agreement with them, but maybe that’ll be okay because we’re not associated with you, but just in case, bring my extremely highly visible known associate who I throw lavish parties with. And especially don’t bring an ice pack or specially designed canister to help keep this highly unstable chemical from overheating.
I was disappointed that the movie was as bad as I was expecting it to be from the initial trailer. There’s definitely more, but I’m out of energy and really I just wanted to use the pun in the title. So we’ve got that going for us.