Movie Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Okay, I really need to put out my review of Solo. I don’t review every movie I see, either because I haven’t had time (see Deadpool 2) or because I’m not really sure what to make of it (see Annihilation and, oddly enough, Early Man). But I can’t pass up a Star Wars movie, so I need to get this one out there. (Maybe I’ll make an anthology post for the others later.)

Unlike the others, the biggest reason I’ve been slow to review Solo is that I’m just not that excited about it. Mind you, it was good in some ways. It certainly wasn’t actively bad like the prequels were, and it wasn’t a love it or hate it kind of thing like The Last Jedi either. It was just…meh.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Spoilers below.

Solo: A Star Wars Story, obviously, follows the story of a young Han Solo as he escapes his life in a street gang on Corellia and tries to make his way in the galaxy. In making this film, Ron Howard attempts to tell an interesting story about a character we already know, obviously set it up as the first installment of its own trilogy, and answer all the questions fans have about Han’s past…and also answer the questions that nobody asked.

Like how did Han Solo get his name? No one was asking that question, but they answered it anyway. Why can’t Solo just be his real name? And the way they handled it—I think it would have worked if he came up with it himself, but having an Imperial recruiter make it up to fill in a blank on a form was just lame.

The way Han met Chewbacca was interesting—a fun little bait-and-switch when compared with the Rancor scene in Return of the Jedi. But ultimately, it didn’t make sense why Chewie became his lifelong companion after that; it wasn’t clear what enacted the life debt he was supposed to owe Han. I’m not even sure we saw it on the screen, and if we did, they certainly didn’t make a big deal about it.

And the Kessel Run—oh, the Kessel Run. The most overhyped thing in the franchise since Boba Fett (or technically before him). In the very first movie, when Han claims the Millennium Falcon “made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs” (a unit of distance, not time), he was supposed to be making stuff up to try to impress Luke and Obi-Wan. The fourth draft of the script even said that Obi-Wan “reacts to Solo’s stupid attempt to impress them with obvious misinformation.” But Alec Guinness failed to get that across on the screen, and ever since, everyone including the writers have just swallowed it without question until in Solo, the Millennium Falcon’s fabled “speed” wasn’t speed at all, but its top-of-the-line navigation system letting Han take a shortcut.

That’s one of my biggest pet peeves about the franchise, if you can’t tell.

Anyway, most of Solo is a decent heist movie, on the whole, but it takes some pretty large and unnecessary meanderings to get there, and the first half hour is all over the place. The Qi’ra story was interesting in itself, but it was incomplete, with the secret of her great crime that made her shy away from Han mostly unresolved. (There’s that sequel hook I was talking about.)

Overall, Solo makes for an entertaining matinee, but (most egregiously) it doesn’t feel like an origin story for Han Solo. I can usually give the benefit of the doubt when a movie doesn’t “feel like” the original. It’s a criticism that I usually think is either not well founded or not very serious (including and especially for The Last Jedi, no less). But for Solo, I have to say that it’s true. They just didn’t hit the right notes to make it a good Star Wars story or a good Han Solo story, which is why I can’t honestly rate it much above mediocre.

But here’s hoping for Episode IX.

About Alex R. Howe

I'm a full-time astrophysicist and a part-time science fiction writer.
This entry was posted in Movie Reviews, Science Fiction and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.