The latest Star Wars movie has – surprise surprise – received a mixed reception from fans. Here’s our take on Solo. In short, we enjoyed it!
Solo: A Star Wars Story – the second in the series of Star Wars Anthology spin-off movies – has been marked with controversy from the moment it was announced. Upheaval during production upended good word even more and now it’s become the lowest-grossing Star Wars film by a fair margin. Which is a shame as, in the opinion of this reviewer, it was a very entertaining ride.
Sure, we can argue all day about the wider problem of Hollywood’s obsession with prequels and spin-offs and just expanding on old successes rather than doing something fresh but, in its own terms, Solo does the job. It has far more in common with The Force Awakens than The Last Jedi as it serves up a nostalgic, if undemanding, slice of Star Wars goodness. I might be mixing up my Harrison Ford franchises here, but the movie does a good job of paying homage to old-fashioned adventure films like the Indiana Jones franchise.
What’s more, Solo’s cast is as talented as any Star Wars movie has ever had. In fact, there are so many great players you wish they got more to do. In particular, Beckett’s crew is sadly short-changed. Jon Favreau’s monkey pilot Rio could have been Solo‘s version of Rocket Raccoon and Westworld‘s Thandie Newton is totally wasted as Val (the first prominent black woman in the franchise, don’t you know), though she had good chemistry with Woody Harrelson’s Beckett.
Those that do get a sizeable chunk of the action all impress, however. Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra is a likeable, morally-murky leading lady, even if she is yet another brunette Brit. Alden Ehrenreich wisely avoids doing a Harrison Ford impression and makes Han his own, offering a younger, more naive take on the future legendary smuggler. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s feminist droid L3-37 is sublime – as is her partner. Donald Glover is as awesome at embodying Lando Calrissian as he is at literally everything else he turns his hand to.
The only thing against Solo is the nature of it. As a prequel, it’s easy to see where the plot is going and, in many ways, you can break it down as a check-list of moments that need to happen to make Han who he is. e.g. Han meets Chewie, Han does the Kessel Run, Han gets the Millennium Falcon ETC. To continue my Indiana Jones comparison, Solo is like the first ten minutes of The Last Crusade stretched into a two and a half movie.
You could also argue that this is the first Star Wars movie that really embraces the MCU-ification of the franchise. That comes complete with the equivalent of a post-credits scene which teases a sequel. Some might find it cynical, but for me the reveal of the true head of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate was one of the best moments in the movie. It’s only Darth Maul, in a move that references his resurrection in The Clone Wars and Rebels animated shows!
The promise of more from Maul is enough to make me wish a Solo 2 happens but, unfortunately, with this being the first flop of the Star Wars franchise, it doesn’t look like that’s a possibility. It’s failure might even lead Lucasfilm to significantly rethink what they do with the Star Wars Anthology series – will those Obi-Wan and Boba Fett spin-offs still get made?
Whether you believe that Disney is making too many Star Wars films is up to you, but it’s still unfortunate that a thoroughly solid film like Solo will go down in history as such a notorious entry in the saga.