O Solo Mio: A Star Wars Story
We finally got that Han Solo origin story that no-one asked for and I can sum how it was in a few words: Serviceable, satisfactory, competent, inoffensive, FINE. It’s just fine. It was never necessary but after all the hoopla surrounding the production I, and I’m assuming other ardent SW fans, was going in expecting it would be an absolute pile of Bantha doo-doo. But alas, it’s decent and worth a watch by even the most casual fan.
But it’s far from perfect and it does have its flaws of course but nothing that distracted me at all from my enjoyment of it. I’m glad they went with Ron Howard directing it because he’s always the capable director. He’s never my favorite director but the man’s very trustworthy with a very good track record. I truly think he is a fan enough of Star Wars that he put a lot of effort and care into this film and I think it really shows.
So what works? This film funnily enough is called SOLO and Han Solo is the weakest character in this film. Chewbacca, Donald Glover as Lando and his droid friend/lover(?) L3-37 totally steal the show. Even Woody Harrelson’s Tobias Beckett is way more intriguing than what we get from Alden Ehrenreich’s Han Solo. But don’t get me wrong, Ehrenreich was better than expected as Han but his character just wasn’t written as the most interesting in this. He was a bit lackluster if I’m being honest after my one viewing. But Glover continues his hot streak and makes Lando his own. He’s not in the film as much as I thought he was going to be but he’s great in every shot he’s in. Speaking of Lando and his droid, L3 is by far the most entertaining droid in the whole franchise to date. She takes the sassiness that was teased a bit from Rogue One‘s K-2SO and turns it up to 11. She’s so sentient that she barely feels like a robot at all. So much that she speaks about her level of being involved “romantically” with Lando. There’s even a very emotional scene that I won’t spoil involving Lando and L3 that has never been portrayed before in SW. With the rumors surrounding the fact that Lando may be pansexual, it makes me wonder very much now if Lobot and Lando were lovers in Empire Strikes Back. Maybe the ‘Lo’ in Lobot stands for “LOver?” Perhaps we’ll find out when Lando gets his own spin-off movie in 2021.
I really dug that this SW flick was more or less a western heist movie in style. It sometimes didn’t even feel like an ordinary SW movie—which depending on your mood, may make or break it for some fans. For me, I’m still kinda numb from SW since The Last Jedi, so I’m just glad this movie didn’t bother me. However, the style and story were refreshing to see. But it was a basic crime, underworld, action-adventure with some space stuff thrown in. In fact, part of me still is questioning heavily the whole why would a SW movie have a train in it on actual tracks. I’m 99.998% sure in the 9 other SW movies no vehicle ever had wheels. Everything is flown or hovers so why now are we seeing a train. But anyway, there’s a bona fide decent scene with a western-style train robbing and it’s one of the highlights of the film.
Let’s get to the what doesn’t work. For me, all these years in my imagination I thought the infamous Kessel Run would’ve been a tad more exciting. In my mind, I always assumed it was a long chase through a chasm or track of some sort that the Millennium Falcon had to zoom through and Han holds the distinction of maneuvering through it at that incredible 12 Parsec rate. Instead, we get basically a black hole with a giant space octopus. Again, not a horrible scene but just FINE.
But what really bothers me about SOLO is that we didn’t need a Han Solo origin movie. Especially such a lackluster one but really his real origin is the one we already saw in A New Hope. I’m not going to say that this new movie ruined the character with its retrofitting development but I much rather have the always despondent, always a loner low-level criminal, who’s always out for himself than see him doing things for love and trying hard for acceptance in another gang’s ranks. He’s even sympathetic and even helps “rebels” later on in the film for virtually no reward. So now when we see Harrison Ford’s Solo in the cantina, his further heroics and character arc are a tad diminished. The other thing that bugged me was how he got his name, Solo. I always just assumed that Solo was his actual surname but now canonically we witness Han say he has no family to an unnamed Imperial Officer who then gives him the moniker Solo since he’s well, solo. Kinda dumb and totally unnecessary. To further make this bug me, later on in the film he mentions his dad and talks about his memories with his old man.
But like I’m trying to say, this film is just a small notch above mediocre in terms of the other SW flicks and to prove that, I barely want to nitpick it, delve deeper in the themes or even discuss spoilers. I’m going to end my quick review here and simply say, SOLO is a fine movie and deserves to be seen and should be an entertaining time at the movies. Perhaps with better writing it could’ve been more interesting. Would I see a sequel to this of they made one? Probably more so now after seeing SOLO. Beforehand, I would’ve said the opposite. But the real takeaway here is that Disney has every right to make as many SW-related flicks as they want but some are going to be duds and not find the larger audience that they intend. I think SOLO may have been that kind of dud. Older fans, such as myself really don’t like having our beloved Original Trilogy characters meddled with so much. I think a huge part of the reason why Rogue One was so successful to me was because it was a whole new slew of characters in the Original Trilogy setting. Huge difference.
Score: 7 Clint Howards (out of 10).