With ‘Solo’, the Star Wars Brand Hits a New Low


Alden Ehrenreich was not a great fit from the start.

There was a lot of skepticism in the air going into this movie; the changing of directors midway through and Academy Award Winner Ron Howard, arguably the most accomplished director to helm a Star Wars movie re-shooting about 80% of the film. Accepting the increasingly event-less nature Disney has made Star Wars, I went into this film just looking for a down the line action adventure movie set in the Star Wars universe, and I didn’t get it. The movie has pretty much no through-line, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) fails to approximate the character Harrison Ford made iconic, and his supporting cast of characters range from the solid if unspectacular Chewbacca to the grating L3-37.

The plot goes like this: A hustler/ thief living on the streets of the planet Corellia falls in with a group of smugglers to perform a heist, and in order to settle a score with a local gangster must perform an even grander heist that involves delivering an unstable fuel source back to the gangster in record time. Along the way the thief reconnects with some old friends, makes new ones, creates a few enemies and learns… something. It is probably the most rote thing writers Lawrence Kasdan (The Force Awakens, Return of the Jedi) and his son Jonathan could come up with and it doesn’t give anybody in the cast of characters a whole lot to do.

If it is considered a heist film it’s not a very good one, and as Star Wars canon it adds nothing new to the mix; opting to fill in the cracks of spare dialogue given by Han throughout the original trilogy, it doesn’t feel like anyone at Lucasfilm or among the cast had a fully fleshed out idea on how to proceed with this film or how to best utilize their characters. Donald Glover is okay but disappointingly is just a flat imitation of Billy Dee Williams’ iconic character Lando, and Woody Harrelson is in stock character mode. They along with Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos who has the benefit of being the most self-contained character fare best. Then there’s Emilia Clarke, who if you’re familiar with from Game of Thrones or Terminator: Genisys can’t act that well and falls prey to any script problems. She fails to convince as an army Lieutenant to Dryden Vos. And that’s as bad as the human characters get. Others fare much worse.

As soon as loudmouth Rio Durant shows up, a bipedal four-armed creature distractingly voiced by Jon Favreau (director of Iron Man & The Jungle Book, Happy Hogan in Spider-Man: Homecoming) I immediately wanted him gone. I go to Star Wars for escapism and his annoying presence here is a reminder I’m watching a Disney product. But even he doesn’t compare to the miserable existence of L3-37, a robot who looks like Alpha from Power Rangers and sounds like a shrill Captain Phasma. L3 is a robot associate of Lando Calrissian that demands equal rights for robots. As if the one thing Star Wars was missing was shallow social issue commentary, the brand previously benefited from being either apolitical or universally interpretable across the political spectrum, but under the stewardship of Disney that is gone. Further shrinking the grand mysteries of the Star Wars Galaxy is a timeline compression that makes Han feel a lot smaller, even more shallow, empty, and by virtue of knowing his fate in The Force Awakens kind of pathetic. Solo in its much maligned production manages to accomplish the opposite of everything a prequel should not do. It’s appropriately brazen and care-free following the daring & unsatisfying Last Jedi but is easily the least memorable and impactful of the.. now count ’em 10 Star Wars movies.

It is not very funny, it is not very creative, and it is not very memorable. There is a terrible cameo at the end that makes the mistake of giving casual Star Wars fans homework, and as a committed fan I was confused by the lines of textual exposition I immediately had to digest at the beginning that wasn’t part of an opening crawl. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before. There isn’t one good standout thing about it, and despite a large runway is severely under-performing at the box-office because even mainstream audiences can detect the corporate greed here. Disney were the wrong people to make this style of film which should have been a lighthearted swashbuckling romp akin to Indiana Jones and is instead some misplaced $300 Million dollar gangster movie. Nothing works about Solo and it’s the worst Star Wars movie by a clear margin, yes even worse than Attack of the Clones. 

Rating: F / 0

I feel very good about giving this film my lowest rating, the movie earns it without that incensed malicious feeling you get from bad strongly branded event films. I am not sure if it is better that or worse that I feel so little about Star Wars.

Tidbit:

  • For what it’s worth screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan has said he is done writing Star Wars movies from now on, Looking at the production I wish it came sooner.
  • I’ll say three good things: 1) the outcome of the first heist is satisfying but fails to make the impact it should, likely because of the re-shoots. 2) The trench warfare is interesting 3) I liked the final fight scene and there’s a chuckle-worthy line in there.
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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Joe says:

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    1. FilmGamer says:

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      Like

  2. FilmGamer says:

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    Like

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