Solo: A Star Wars Story

2.5 stars.

Theatrical release: 5/25/2018
PG-13; 135 minutes
Produced by Simon Emanuel, Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur
Written Jonathan Kasdan & Lawrence Kasdan
Directed by Ron Howard

Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), Woody Harrelson (Beckett), Emilia Clarke (Qi'ra), Donald Glover (Lando Calrissian), Thandie Newton (Val), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (L3-37), Paul Bettany (Dryden Vos), Erin Kellyman (Enfys Nest)

December 27, 2018

Review Text

There's nothing wrong with Solo: A Star Wars Story, except maybe that it comes across as completely and totally routine. It plays everything safe. Nothing really unexpected happens here. This is a competent, entertaining, well-paced and reasonably plotted space adventure. It is not bold or inventive or subversive or anything else. As so-called Star Wars "anthology movies" go (all two of them), this is a step down from Rogue One in terms of vision and ambition, even if it is inherently more fun. This is comfort food, plain and simple.

The original directors of the film, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, helmed The Lego Movie, which was inventive and subversive. They were fired well into production of Solo under the catch-all Hollywood headline of "creative differences." Franchise torch-bearer Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan — among the most grizzled Star Wars veterans still in the game — apparently did not agree with the style of the young whippersnappers. Enter Ron Howard, who came in to replace Lord and Miller. Howard delivers a straightforward Star Wars action-adventure that fits right into this universe. He disappears as a hired pro. Aside from the obligatory cameo by his brother Clint, you wouldn't even know he was there. John Williams is notably absent (aside from lifting key themes from Williams' past compositions, John Powell's score doesn't sound as Williams-esque as Michael Giacchino's work in Rogue One), but this movie otherwise feels like all the rest.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I guess that depends what you want out of your Star Wars. Howard hits all the beats and delivers the expected goods. It's slick and efficient and conventional. But at this point, with the franchise's schedule having meant an annual release from 2015 through 2019, they were bound to hit a wall because of over-saturation. Yes, people can get sick of Star Wars if you continue to feed it to them. The box office disappointment of Solo had all the executives at Disney/Lucasfilm rethinking their strategy. Navel-gazing is a predictable response, and not unwarranted. (At the very least, can we finally dispense with the idea of a Boba Fett stand-alone movie?) But it's not that Solo itself is bad per se; it's that being so conventional may no longer be wise for the franchise.

The real problem, I guess, is that this movie isn't necessary, and it doesn't do much to convince us otherwise. It suffers from prequel-itis, where the screenwriters devise tie-ins to things we are familiar with, but in a way that feels obligatory rather than vital. Sure, I smiled at the fact that we get to see the Kessel Run completed in (approximately) 12 parsecs. But the Kessel Run is also the most obvious thing you could possibly put into a prequel called Solo.

As for Alden Ehrenreich stepping into the title role, he's ... fine. Nothing really wrong with his performance, but nothing especially right about it either. He's Solo-adjacent, but it's hard to accept him as Solo except in the abstract. Why is this? Mostly because he's not Harrison Ford, but also because Han Solo is such an iconic character that has been iterated upon so many times within other characters that this simply becomes the latest iteration that feels like an imitation. Replacing Ford in one of his most famous roles was always going to be a tall order; Ehrenreich does not transcend it.

By contrast, Donald Glover somehow manages to find the music between the notes. He makes for a better Lando than Ehrenreich does Han. I don't know if it's his voice or mannerisms or what exactly, but it feels right, and there's an air of fun to it, whereas with Ehrenreich the performance feels more dutiful. Lando feels like a scoundrel where Han feels weighed down by his mission. There's also an intriguing quality to Lando's relationship with his droid L3 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who sounds so much like Gwendolyn Christie's Captain Phasma that I thought she was cast as an in-joke, but no, I was simply wrong). There's something between them that is more than just an owner and a piece of hardware.

We also get to see how Han and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) meet. This is played for an acceptable level of amusement, as Han is thrown into a jail cell to be murdered/eaten by "the beast" after being charged with deserting the Imperial Army in the middle of a ground combat invasion that has a cinematic visual template borrowed from Saving Private Ryan. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Rewind three years. Solo and his one true love, Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke), are on the run from the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate after a caper gone wrong puts Han in the hot seat. He narrowly escapes by fleeing the planet and joining the Imperial Army. She is captured and becomes his life's sole motivator — to find a way to eventually return and rescue her. His stint with the Imperial Army is purely mercenary — a way to eventually pave his way back home — but instead he finds himself in with a motley crew of thieves-for-hire who have a big heist planned. After Han proves his value with his piloting skills, their leader Beckett (played by Woody Harrelson, which tells you most of what you need to know about the character), reluctantly allows Han to join them in their heist to steal a massive load of the highly volatile and valuable substance coaxium, which is comprised mostly of the highly-prized element MacGuffin.

Well, of course the heist goes bad. Beckett's team is ambushed by rival pirates who also want the unobtanium coaxium, and they sustain heavy losses, including the death of Beckett's beloved partner in crime, Val (played by Thandie Newton in one of those throwaway roles that feels more significant because of the actor playing her). This puts the team in a deep hole because the coaxium was actually to be delivered to Crimson Dawn, and non-delivery means you're dead, because, you know, gangsters bring with them gangster clichés.

The head of Crimson Dawn and the Big Bad of the movie is Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). He's a bland disappointment as villains go. Bettany supplies the requisite evil posturing and billionaire-murderer eccentricity, but there's nothing memorable about him as a foil for our heroes. He's more of a means to an end, which typifies Solo. The real conflict, more internalized, has more to do with Qi'ra, who in the years of Han's absence has moved up in the world to be Vos' companion/consigliere, and whose true motives take time to be completely revealed. In the meantime, she and Han team up with their old relationship put on hold. This material is ... fine.

In order to get out from under Vos' debt, the crew must now find another source of coaxium, which provides the engine to drive the plot forward through the rest of the movie, including Han's first meeting and card game with Lando (which ends with him not winning the Millennium Falcon in a bet, but Lando agrees to let him use it anyway); the aforementioned Kessel Run which includes sparking a droid uprising on a slave-labor mining colony; and some space-faring fun in the violent Maw Cluster, where the Falcon — which starts this adventure in mint condition (and does not have its signature gap in the front) — gets pretty well mauled while trying to escape a massive space creature while simultaneously being sucked into a vortex. Also, we learn the rival Cloud-Rider pirates that derailed Beckett's heist still need the coaxium for themselves and have more noble reasons for wanting it. So, ultimately, this is once again about Han and his choice to stand for something other than himself.

All of these beats are tied together with a script that plays fairly effortlessly and glides right along. It's a job of consummate professionalism. But it is not a job of inspiration. I describe these plot points mostly out of obligation to a certain amount of detail, not because they are particularly meaningful. But this is of course the problem with prequels: They are dutiful back-fillers of character histories we've already been told about or imagined well enough on our own.

The plot's key betrayals are telegraphed. Especially with Beckett, who gives Han a version of the classic "don't trust anyone" speech early in the movie, which inevitably means he will be the one to double-cross Han and remind him that he said not to trust anyone. As payback, Han gets to settle the "Han shoots first" meta-debate in a moment that is unmistakable, but doesn't insist too much upon itself.

Probably the most unexpected thing to happen in Solo is the head-scratching WTF moment where we learn Qi'ra is actually working for Darth Maul, last seen being sliced in half at the end of The Phantom Menace at the climax of a good action scene that followed absolutely zero character development — but now apparently running Crimson Dawn. Considering this takes place somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 years after Phantom Menace, I'm at a loss. I learn there are TV episodes or comics — unseen by me — that explain how Maul survived falling bisected into a chasm, but that doesn't explain why he's in this movie (except maybe to generate discussions like this one), which teases a larger plot that I can't imagine will ever materialize or matter. (There was never likely to be a Solo 2 even before this one disappointed at the box office, so what was this ostensibly setting up?)

I enjoyed Solo while it was happening, but there are no lasting impressions to take away from it, because there are none the movie even cares to provide. In my Rogue One review, I wrote: "It's possible that future stand-alone films may have their own tones, serving only themselves. That's part of the statement being made here. Star Wars is a universe, but a Star Wars movie is whatever its particular goals are." In the case of Solo, one could say the goals are simply to serve up the same Star Wars aesthetic that has been the formula for more than 40 years, in the interest of providing cinematic familiarity. The goal was apparently so paramount it meant the original directors working against the idea had to be fired.

Previous: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

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61 comments on this post

    This will be the first Star Wars movie I don't see. Disney has killed Star Wars for me with how mediocre to terrible the new movies are

    I saw this last night and it wasn't actually that bad.

    The acting was better than expected. Alden Ehrenreich did a fine job as young Han; the Solo surname doesn't get added until partway into the film. Emilia Clarke played an excellent romantic lead as Qi'ra - she tends to shine more as an actress in non-tough girl roles such as this one, though I'm unsure if she was actually supposed to be a femme fatale here. Donald Glover was the real breakout star with his inspired turn as young Lando Calrissian. Kudos to the writers for giving him a cape collection and the scene where we see him working on his autobiography was delicious. Don't scratch too far beneath the surface of these characters, however, as they are pretty hollow though likeable on their own terms.

    The story was middle-of-the-road fare, lots of goofy humour in the vein of 'The Force Awakens', lots of action scenes and salty character exchanges. There was one surprise twist near the end that gave me pause because it was so far out of left field but otherwise fairly predictable stuff.

    All in all, it was an enjoyable popcorn film and a decent addition to the canon. Surprisingly there were lots of references to the old Star Wars Expanded Universe that any observant reader of the novels will get straight away (Han is a street urchin from Coronet City on Corellia, the Imperial Academy is on Carida, Kessel is near a black hole called the Maw, Lando tries to charm a female sabacc player with stories of his adventures in the StarCave Nebula, etc.). I went in with no expectations as I found 'Rogue One' such a chore on every level so this was a welcome surprise. Definitely a film to bring the kids to.

    By the way, has word of mouth spread about this film at lightspeed or are people already burned out on Star Wars? The theatre I saw the film on was nearly empty for an opening evening!

    I saw the movie last night in a sold out theater and thought it was a lot of fun!

    I liked the slow build up to the introductions of the iconic characters; and the way they held back the Star Wars music themes until the Millennium Falcon was on the screen.

    The first half hour reminded me a lot of “Firefly” — not a bad place to go when you want a Sci-Fi/Western/Comedy mix. (But the comedy part was dialed way back ; this probably happened when Ron Howard was brought on board to direct. It’s hard to say if the movie could have been better with an even more comedic tone.)

    The movie definitely succeeds in one regard: By the time we get to the last half hour I actually felt like I was viewing a young version of Han Solo.

    Anyway, the crowd I viewed the movie with was into the movie big time: Cheering at the first sight of Chewbacca, Lando, the Millennium Falcon; and, yes, the mention of making the Kessell run in 12 parsecs! (They also gasped with surprise when the direct link to the “Star Wars: Clone Wars” and “Star Wars: Rebels” series was revealed.)

    All in all, a fun romp in the Star Wars universe. ***

    Feeling mixed on this one. It's a fun adventure movie, but I still find myself asking why this story needed to be told.

    I really liked most of the cast. Emilla Clarke was excellent as an emotionally conflicted femme fatale. Donald Glover WAS Lando. I was a bit disappointed that other characters, like Val and Rio, had so little to do. Alden Ehrenreich was... ok. I never really bought him as Han Solo, but I also wasn't completely torn out of the movie.

    I think my biggest issue with the film is that it insists on treating Han as a "smuggler with a heart of gold." I worry that preempts his character arc in ANH. When we first see Han in ANH, he's a selfish, cynical smuggler. He scoffs at the idea of joining a rebellion. Yet, in Solo, he seems pretty sympathetic to idealistic causes.

    It's a fun movie, but honestly I think I preferred the old Expanded Universe backstory in the AC Crispin novels.

    Rogue One was a mess and a slog that added nothing to the saga, so I’m not seeing this in the theater. Based on the comments here, I may give it a viewing when it shows up on streaming services since it seems like an inoffensive, fun enough film. But that doesn’t change the fact that this doesn’t seem like a story that needed to be told, and less is really more when it comes to characters like this.

    I agree with the general consensus - it's a serviceable and reasonably entertaining movie, but completely disposable. It offers no new insights into Han's character and, more unforgivably, gives us the ROTJ-harmless-goof version rather than the edgier guy we met in Star Wars, who shot Greedo without a second thought and wanted no part of noble causes.

    What we get here is a very safe, family-friendly, dare I say "Disneyfied" Han Solo who doesn't really give the impression of someone who grew up hard in a rough neighbourhood at all. The movie takes no risks at all, in any respect, and thus reaps no rewards either. Say what you will about The Last Jedi - and I change my mind about it every other day - at least it took some risks.

    Casting is superb, however. Ehrenreich and Glover both play their parts with gusto. It's a shame their talents couldn't have been put to use in service of something truly memorable.

    I liked it. Not a deep/thinker movie but a fun action/hiest film.

    Liked the casting and several subtle moments made me think of other moments in the original trilogy, down to the body lanaguage of Lando.

    Loved the score. It never took away from the story but frequently added to it.

    It was exactly what I expected and well done.

    @Tim C, to the movie's credit, I actually think Han's arc in Solo was to start to get him to that darker place. The movie ends with Han literally shooting first. I think we're supposed to take that as Han learning through experience that he really can't trust anyone (except for Chewie). Han might be a smuggler with a heart of gold, but he realizes that's not going to work in the real world. Granted, Han doesn't end the movie at the same place he does in A New Hope, but there's some 10 years in between, so I'm willing to say Han got continually hardened over the years.

    I'm sure the movie is passable, but after the train wreck that was TLJ I'm done paying to see anything Star Wars related. Not this, not the Boba Fett movie they're planning, not Episode IX. As much as it kills me to say it, I think I'm done with this franchise for the foreseeable future.

    It was a pleasant movie. The 1st half so-so, but the 2nd half much better. Is it me or the droids in Disneyverse can do anything now? With the abilities of the droid here and the one in Rogue One, even BB8 who drove an AT-ST Walker in EpVIII, i'm wondering how come and droids dont rule the galaxy yet. I mean, what was the function of the droid here? A pilot? A fighter? A Rebel? A programmer? All the droids who dont get their memories wiped out develop human emotions? An imperial droid can be reprogrammed to be a better fighter than a stormtrooper, like the droid in Rogue One? How come the rebels dont get 1000 such robots and make a killer army?

    I think that if disney had made Ep.IV, when the sandpeople had attacked Luke, 3PO would had fought them with karate moves instead of tripping and falling.

    Only when the scenario calls for it, the droids become dumb again. I mean, in EpVIII the ship who got sacrificed had to be piloted by the ADMIRAL. No droid was good enough to press the 2 buttons required. The lady Admiral was required to do it, in order to press the buttons with determination! :)

    @Dimitris I think any issue with droid overpowering/inconsistency goes beyond Disney and at least back to the prequels, where they're making goofy wisecracks but then also slaughtering hordes of Jedi on Geonosis, etc.

    The Admiral Holdo deal, though... phew, no excuse, Disney blew that plot point.

    Enjoyed the movie. Considering we all knew what was going to happen in it based on every film until now they did a pretty good job with the story and the bunch of "firsts" everyone expected. I liked how Han dealt with Beckett at the end. It moved the character toward who we know a bit more. And the Big cameo surprised me. Had to piece together a timeline in my head to see if it was possible. Guess I missed some stuff by not following the novels and cartoons . It was good. Could have been better. And to be honest I was hoping for a short Harrison Ford cameo somehow. Perhaps it's better that didn't happen.

    I'll watch this installment on blu- ray disc and not waste money at the cinema. The last jedi was nauseating nonsense.

    @Dom - you may be right, but that still doesn't change my mind that this movie is kinda forgettable. It doesn't feel like it got made because someone had a really great idea for a Han Solo movie, it feels like it got made according to a corporate check list.

    Which is not to say that I wasn't entertained for two hours, just that I didn't care about anything that was happening. I prefer a little more ambition in my movies, even standalones.

    Since this is a Star Trek site, the original Star Trek movies are a great example of how to do a standalone movie that still manages to take a risk. 2, 3, 4 and 6 all give us episodic stories that still change the status quo in meaningful ways. Characters face consequences for the choices they make, or grow in other ways. This doesn't make them good in of themselves (Generations, for instance, shakes up the status quo but is still a rubbish movie) but it does make them individually memorable. That's what Solo was missing. It felt more like an Insurrection or bad Voyager episode - a completely disposable story that you could easily skip and not fail to understand the next chapter.

    Like a most of my friends, I don't believe in "bad" Star Wars or Star Trek...We have things that we like about almost every installment.
    ...BUT Just saw Solo and it was shockingly "meh"
    The acting was fine, the action scenes were impressive, the story was interesting.
    But for the first time EVER, I found myself yawning through a Star Wars movie, looking at my watch and wondering when it was going to be over.
    Also, I didn't laugh out loud once - something I have done during the original three, Force Awakens, Rogue One and Last Jedi.
    I can believe I'm saying this but Ron Howard has effed-up Star Wars.

    @Tim C, I don’t disagree with that. There is some character development for Han, which I like. But it’s mostly stuff we could have inferred from watching A New Hope 40 years ago. It’s hard not to get the sense that there was a corporate decision behind this as opposed to a creative decision. I don’t know if the Star Trek model would work for Star Wars. Trek is by nature more episodic, whereas Star Wars is more mythic, more epic. Still, point taken about gradual yet real cahracter development over time. I suspect Solo would have worked better in an alternate universe where it introduced us to Han, and then we saw his arc over the course of the other movies. Instead, Solo was a backstory to a character whose death we’ve already seen on screen.

    Pm... Ron Howard probably didn’t mess this up so much as prevent it from becoming an even bigger disaster.

    Saw this at cheap movie night last night. It was about what I expected, quite fun at times but also kind of forgettable. I didn't really buy this version of Han, but the dialogue exchanges and Lando made it worthwhile.

    And it looks like this will be the first SW movie to bomb at the box office. It will be interesting to see whether SW turns out to be in the same place Trek was in the late 90s.

    As with a few others on here, I haven't seen this in the cinema and I must admit I'm in no real rush to either. The Force Awakens, Rogue One and especially The Last Jedi have sapped any enthusiasm I had for future films (which even the prequels didn't manage), and judging from the box office performance I suspect I'm not alone in that respect. Fingers crossed Disney takes heed and changes tack, but equally I'm not holding my breath.

    Never thought I'd end up such a negative nancy about Star Wars, but I guess life is full of surprises.

    This movie was fun, but forgettable. I was pleasantly surprised by it, given all of the upheaval during production. There’s a clear set-up for a sequel, or at least a continuation of these characters in another Star Wars story, which makes me wonder why they tried to fit in so many character beats and historical moments in Han’s background into a single film.

    Paul Bettany was the best thing in this film. A great performance in which his mood and level of menace changes on a dime. Chewbacca also got some moments to shine. Alden was very likeable and wisely found his own take on Han instead of trying to replicate Ford’s acting precisely.

    The anticipation of this film might have been enhanced if it had come out in December. We just had a Star Wars movie with the Falcon being chased by TIE Fighters 6 months ago. I don’t think Star Wars has enough variety to follow the model that Marvel has perfected - they have big ensemble movies, they can veer between earthbound and space opera and they shift tone pretty well to keep things fresh. Where can these Star Wars movies go when they’re stuck in the past and trapped by canon? This was a chance to change tack and tell a different kind of story, but instead we got the standard formula on a slightly smaller scale. Two Star Wars films in a year is too much, I feel.

    I’ve really enjoyed the new Episodes and feel like they’re doing something different with the core characters while still giving elements of Star Wars that we know and love. But I have absolutely no desire to see a Boba Fett or even an Obi-Wan movie, I can’t wait for the new trilogy by Rian Johnson that is apparently going to be completely separate from the Skywalker saga. That’s the direction the franchise needs to go in, in order to stay relevant in today’s industry,

    A comment thread about a new Star Wars movie that isn't filled with people moaning about SJW's? We're through the looking glass here.

    I'm really surprised that this was released at this time. Surely establishing the Christmas Star Wars movie is a better bet.

    Lucasfilm have canned any origins films stories for star wars for the forseeable future. No surprise at all.

    It's great to see that this flopped. Hopefully Disney will learn their lesson: dance with the one who brought you. The hardcore fans hated TLJ, and they owe to them to make the kind of films we want to see.

    I agree with Matthew d wilson. Some so called hardcore fans may have hated TLJ. I consider myself pretty hardcore and enjoyed TLJ very much. Sure it had some annoying parts and character beats but still enjoyed it. Solo was fine for a popcorn filler but I didnt need it or particularly want it. Saying that I was fine with it and will buy on bluray.

    I’m not a hardcore Star Wars fan by any means. I’m a hardcore movie fan though. TLJ was just a badly made movie.

    It was worth it for the Darth Maul cameo alone. Solo isn't remotely the best film, but it does help to expand the universe by connecting it to the animated shows, recognizing their contributions as official canon.


    "but honestly I think I preferred the old Expanded Universe backstory in the AC Crispin novels"

    "Solo" not colliding with Crispin's novels:

    I didn't see it. TLJ was the nail in the coffin for me. The saga died long ago.

    @Q, Solo does indeed conflict with the novels at several points. How Han met Chewie for instance. In the EU, Han freed Chewie from slavery. In the movie, Han is thrown into a pit with Chewie and they escape together. What I liked about the prior version is that it was depicted in the novels as Han feeling like no good deed goes unpunished. Freeing Chewie led to his being kicked out of the Imperial Academy, which was his dream up to that point. In the new version, it is highly implied that Chewie ate several people, which is kind of gross. Han is also a bit too much the good guy in the film. I don't hate the new version, and liked Solo overall, but it's tough to not compare it to the alternative version we had for 20 years.

    @Josh Because nobody cares about this movie enough to watch it.

    Seems so, looks like a crap film anyway! It's available on blu-ray in the latter part of September. I've not seen it but, like the last jedi, I'll see it on borrowed blu ray later.

    "I do know one thing: I will never again open up comments on something I have not reviewed if I intend to review it."
    - Jammer, 9 years ago
    (Battlestar Galactica series finale review)

    Just came across this and thought it was funny after reading through this page and the Last Jedi review (sorry for nagging about the Last Jedi review - this site is adictively good - I don't have time to spend the time I do reading through it, but it's just awesome)

    My verdict on Solo.
    Pretty much forgettable. Ok. It wasn't a disaster but I really didn't care. There is no jeopardy in a story like this. You can instantly guess who the bad guys might be and who is likely to die.
    Got really bored towards the end and started to nod off.
    None of the humour made me laugh. The Last Jedi was actually funnier. None of the action sequences blew me away either. Oooh.. another big monster chase.
    I maintain this film didn't need to be made. The fact that it bombed has now likely robbed us of some potentially decent side stories. Like Rogue One was.
    Slow clap Disney. Slow clap.

    Oh.... And why was there even a train on that planet. The Star Wars Universe is full of space ships that could have got the Coaxium or whatever it was there in no time.
    But lets stick in on a train on a mountain because it will look cool.
    All I kept thinking is "Why is that even there?"

    Come on Jammer, set aside a few hours and review this pile of shit film. It has been several months since you reviewed anything.

    After a delay of many months, my review of "Solo" is finally posted.

    Thanks for the review, Jammer. I had avoided seeing this one and will continue to avoid it, as you've confirmed what I basically thought was going on. These people think they're going to churn out McDonald's product from a magical franchise and help their long-term prospects? All it's achieved is the same magic the Trek franchise has done, which is to get me bail on their newer material. And the irony in my analogy is that McDonald's actually tastes good even though it's not nutritious; it's a guilty pleasure, the key word being pleasure.

    As I haven't seen Solo I can't offer a review, but I think where I would diverge from you is that failing to generate anything interesting in a film so rich in potential world-building constitutes a major failure, rather than just an 'ok' result. When tackling certain kinds of projects one takes on a certain level of necessary achievement. We don't expect the same from an Olympic track and field even as we do from a high school one; and putting on a Star Wars film is entering the film Olympics. If you don't score a world-class result you shouldn't have entered the race in the first place - unless you don't mind giving the Olympics a bad name and reducing it to triviality. For that type of failure alone I would be tempted to give a film zero stars. For a film of this type to be boring and forgettable is to be far less than the sum of its parts.

    "As so-called Star Wars "anthology movies" go (all two of them)"

    Don't the two Ewok movies count?

    I disagree with your underlying argument, Peter G. Just because it's Star Wars does not in my opinion mean it has to meet some sort of exceedingly high bar of an Olympic standard. It can "just be a movie" if it's a good one, or even an okay one. I'm fine with that to a point.

    There is a role for disposable entertainment, and while I don't think Star Wars should *aim* for that, I don't think there's anything wrong with an "entertaining but just okay" movie, even with the Star Wars (or Star Trek) moniker. Star Wars has always been about being a fun Saturday-morning serial first. Lucas transcended the genre with what he did in 1977, but after so many movies and what's been done with VFX and sci-fi and space opera in the past 40 years, there are limits on what can realistically be achieved. Audiences have seen everything.

    In my middle age I've come to realize that not everything has to blow me away -- nor could it. Maybe that means I've gone soft, but if something isn't *bad* and I enjoyed my two hours (which I largely did with "Solo" even though it didn't rivet me in the slightest) then I'm not going to label it as "bad." Certainly not zero stars as you would suggest. I frankly don't know if Star Wars is capable of zero stars; there are too many gatekeepers. It's why Lord and Miller were fired. Not because they would've necessarily made a bad movie, but because the powers that be didn't like what they saw and considered it a possibility.

    I honestly don't know what "Solo" could've been that could've been satisfactory. The expectations are part of the problem when you're dealing with iconic characters. They tried, and they did some things right. Maybe the error was in trying at all.

    @ Jammer,

    I agree with you that any movie can be many things. I guess the reason why I suggest SW should be the Olympics is because it already has been and anything else will inevitably be seen as a failure. That already happened in spades with the prequels, which by any reasonable standard have some majestical qualities to them and yet seem to have inspired feelings of betrayal and disappointment in a great many people. So my comment is less about my expectations, in a way, and more an observation about how I suspect mediocre SW is actually received. But yes, you're totally right that any given person might enjoy a middling SW outing anyhow. I shouldn't have confused that point with my idea of giving it zero stars, which is more personal, in that at this point in my life I actually have no interest in films that just pass the time ok. So it's less an objective rating of craftsmanship and more a "I have no interest in sitting through it" rating. I know if I went I'd probably want to walk out bored halfway through, which doesn't mean it's made as poorly as Plan 9 from Outer Space, obviously, but it does mean that for my part it's of no cinematic value. But again I'm just guessing about that here as I haven't seen it. But my tendency to want to 'switch the channel' has greatly increased over time. Maybe this is a symptom of Netflix; or maybe of film standards being on the decline in general (which I think they are).

    "I haven't seen this movie, but here's two gigantic paragraphs of my opinion about it"

    I actually liked this movie, and Rogue One a lot better than Episodes 7 & 8 *(But I hated them, so that's not saying much)

    Actually, I think nothing has topped the storyline presented in the books. In my opinion, the continuing story in the books was more interesting, and even the trilogy of Han Solo's adventures and growing up before meeting our heroes in A New Hope was better. I like how he met Lando, and also, it better fits the storyline of why Lando said, "You've got a lot of guts coming here, after what you pulled". In the Solo movie, the last thing Han did to him was basically expose his cheating. Yea, I guess that would make Lando mad, but he just laughed it off. In the book Rebel Dawn (the last of the trilogy), Han got all his smuggler buddies to help Bria Theran and the Rebel Alliance (a long story) to invade a planet run by the Hutts and promised to share the valuables there. Han didn't know it, but Bria betrayed them all and took all the treasure for the alliance. Lando and the other smugglers assumed Han was in on it the whole time! You can really understand their anger. (*Which is why no one would help Han pay off Jabba when he had to dump the spice shipment when he got boarded)

    Ok, I guess I spent more time explaining something else rather than a review of the movie, but basically, the Disneyverse is a pale imitation of the REAL canon of the Expanded Universe (the books) in my opinion.

    However, that said, I think Solo got a bum deal in the box office. I believe everyone was so mad at the Last Jedi that they didn't give Solo a chance. As a movie in and of itself, it was entertaining, and I would have liked to see it do well and the Last Jedi to bomb

    @Sean Hagins, you've hit the nail on the head concerning the total lack of regard for character motivation in these films. The same goes for the use of Leia in Rogue One as compared to the story told in the radio dramas. In the latter, it was established that Vader suspected that she was helping the alliance since he kept finding the Tantive IV at planets with rebel activity but he couldn't prove it. Hence the "You weren't on any mercy mission this time" line. Same goes for the sloppily recreated death scene in Into Darkness. It brings to mind the writing in X-Men The Last Stand as compared to the story in the comics.

    Enjoyed reading your review, Jammer. However calling Kathleen Kennedy one of the most grizzled Star Wars veterans in the game really isn't correct. She's a grizzled veteran in Spielberg circles but hadn't worked on SW prior to the Disney buyout. That's not an inherently bad thing as I was excited in 2012, but it's become obvious that there's not going to be any worldbuilding or sense of wonder in these films.

    *watches The Wrath of Khan and listens to the SW radio drama*

    I agree with many by saying it was an ok film. But for a Star Wars Story that just sounds so damning. I'd like to paraphrase a line from the substandard Eragon movie a while back. The big bad guy meets the hero kid, who is supposed to be the Savior, or chosen one, or whatever (I forget ), and says something like, "I was expecting someone more ... Well ... More." Guess that's how I went into Solo. Expecting something ... More.

    I agree it was passable...this & Rogue One are the only 2 Star Wars movies since the original trilogy that I would put in that category. But yes, it was mostly predictable, and trying to make Solo too "good" at the beginning was a mistake.

    But I mainly wrote to praise Donald Glover. That first sequel (episode 7, I guess) reminded me of how good an actor Harrison Ford is. That script was bad, but you could forget that whenever he was delivering the lines. This script was better; the movie was full of actors doing decent-to-good jobs with OK material, but Glover was spectacular in his role. It was a much better movie whenever he was onscreen.

    I don't plan to see the last film in the current trilogy, and I'm not really interested in a new one done by people who have worked on this one (though I'll try and keep and open mind). But if they signed Glover to write and star in his own Lando movie, I'd be excited.

    "Solo" is the first Star Wars film I did not bother to go and see in the theater. After the disappointment of the Last Jedi I didn't want to see another SW film that might be even worse.

    But I watched Solo the other night on Netflix and I thought it was pretty. Certainly a lot better than I had expected. I thought Alden Ehrenreich played a very likeable and amusing young Han Solo. Lando was very well done by Glover. Just for the sake of entertainment, it's not a bad film at all.

    I also just watched this on Netflix:

    Maybe I'll go into depth at some point, but it was better than I expected. A low 3 stars seems about right.

    I'm more or less with those who liked this flick overall, but would have liked it to have a little something more. It does seem more like an interlude than a standalone, particularly with that cameo by Maul and with Qi'ra just kind of taking off and leaving her old flame to his own devices at the end (instead of either being a star-crossed lover who tragically dies in his arms or being his old-flame-turned-deadly-foe who tragically forces him to kill her in a shootout). The way I figure it, what it's setting up there at the end is not a sequel, but rather some connection to Episode IX: think of how an apparent throwaway line in Rogue One ("...lightspeed tracking...") ended up foreshadowing a plot point in the Last Jedi (the First Order now has technology that can track the Resistance through hyperspace).

    (My guess as to what the connection will be? Qi'ra will turn out to be Rey's grandmother; seems to me she probably slept her way to the top of Crimson Dawn during those three years she was apart from Han, and then the gangsters simply recruited her child-out-of-wedlock into their gang with Imperial ties the same way they recruited her. Said illegitimate child later ended up on Jakku after the Empire was overthrown, went on to have *another* teen pregnancy resulting in *another* child out of wedlock, and that child was Rey. That's one way to make Rey's origins just a little more despicable and help dispel this silly notion some critics have that she's some kind of Mary Sue.)

    As for this film? Well, yes, a solid entry overall, though I think we all wanted a little more character development for Han. Comedian Donald Glover (a.k.a. Childish Gambino) does an excellent impression of Lando Calrissian and makes me glad they're bringing Billy Dee Williams back for Episode IX. It was also fun to see them taking a few potshots at L3-37's SJW ways by having all the characters behave dismissively toward her. (I could almost hear Lando thinking "Droid, please!" every time he was talking to her.)

    In short, it's not a bad flick, but it's not exactly a stellar entry either. It stands somewhere in the middle of the pack (ahead of the prequels but behind the original trilogy), and doesn't really stand out much from any of the other entries in this franchise.

    I don’t think Solo is a particularly good movie but much better than TLJ and TFR which were pathetic (esp TLJ) but not as good as Rogue One. Very bland and just barely decent, but at it has a plot and semi-believable characters. I haven’t paid to see Star Wars movies sincethe Farce Awakens (which i regretted) and this certainly didn’t convince me to fork over anything to the folks at Disney. The franchise is done IMO.

    It took me a long time to see Solo. When I finally did, I enjoyed it. But I also found nothing in it that made me regret having waited so long to see it.

    I finally saw this on Netflix.

    Meh.... I nodded of a couple times.

    2 stars from me. I guess if I were more of a SW nut it might have captivated/intrigued me more.

    Not nearly as good as 'Rogue One' IMO.

    Phoebe Waller-Bridge sounds nothing like Phasma. Good lord. Stop watching garbage like this and try Fleabag instead.

    I agree with your take on Solo. It’s big dumb fun. Turn your brain off and shove popcorn down your head. But do I think of this as I do the original three Star Wars films? Somehow you know it’s in that same universe but then again.... it’s kind of not. It’s Han and Chewie go to Disney. I think The Force Awakens is as close as we will get to Disney making anything that feels truly like Star Wars and that movie itself is far from perfect.


    As a continuation of our discussion of "prequels suck" from the TLJ review, I was struck by this line in Jammer's review of Solo -- "They are dutiful back-fillers of character histories we've already been told about or imagined well enough on our own."

    I think that's generally the problem with prequels. I loved Rogue One, as you know, and I think part of the reason it worked so well for me is that it was based on one simple fact--we knew that the Death Star plans were in Leia's possession. Beyond that simple fact, we knew nothing. So the creators of that story were free to develop it however they wished.

    I enjoyed Solo, and wouldn't mind re-watching it, but I think I agree completely with Jammer about the flaws. We know Han Solo SOOOO well that any prequel is going to be burdened with all our collective imaginings. It was okay, but nothing to write home about.

    Now, "Many Bothans died to bring us this information" might make for a good prequel because that's all we know about it. I can imagine a heroic Bothan with a great back story. We never saw a Bothan in the movies, but from a google it looks like they have been depicted in other things and they look awesome.

    But on the prequel topic, I am reminded of this absolutely hilarious proposal for an eventual prequel--about that guy in the tower we saw at Yavin IV.


    So, I realized when I wrote the comment above that you hadn't commented on this review but thought you might wander over some time.

    Anyway, while I'm on the topic--do y'all get notifications somewhere when someone tags you like that? I simply go back to my previous comments and then read from there to check for replies.

    But I've been on Jammer's site for 12 years (WOW) and it's a lot bigger than it used to be. Used to be easy to find stuff. Now not so much.


    Why, the reason I haven't commented on this review is because I haven't seen the movie, nor Rogue One either! When the original sequel trilogy came out, I decided to dedicate myself to watching those and skip out on the "side movies" in theaters to prevent myself from getting oversaturated with Star Wars. It's worked, so far, and I'll end up watching the other movies when they're available on cable.

    To answer your site question, none of us get notifications, but we use the comment stream as a sort of live discussion. It's not incredibly sophisticated compared to what other boards may have, but it gets the job done all the same. I started coming to this site in 2015 so I don't know about the old layout, but it sounds like everything was much different for you veterans here. :-)


    Oh! Well I'll be looking forward to hearing your responses to them! Apparently, where peoples' reactions to Rogue One divide is based on whether or not they connect to the characters. I did, so I love it. And it has the funniest droid of ANY movie, lol

    And about the site -- It's not that it was better, just that there weren't as many active commenters, so conversations moved more slowly. But I am glad it is the way it is--it encourages me to go back and re-read old conversations, and it is fun to see replies continuing to come in to old discussions.

    Why are we wasting time talking about all the prequels and requels that are not very good. Well maybe Rogue One is the best movie since Disney took over. We need to be talking about The Mandalorian because it is the best thing in the Star Wars universe since the Original Trilogy.

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