Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

May 24, 2018
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I never thought I’d say this but I think I’m getting Star Wars fatigue.  The day that I’m writing a review about how luke (no pun intended) warm I felt about Solo, it was announced that James Mangold (Logan, Walk the Line) was just hired to write and direct a Boba Fett spinoff movie.  This was after it was announced that Disney wants to also make Lando Calrissian spinoff of the spinoff.  This was also after Disney released The Last Jedi just a five months ago!  Listen, I know that for decades I bitched about not having enough Star Wars but now it feels like too much.  I know I always say that if I could have only one meal for the rest of my life it would be pizza but that doesn’t mean that eating pizza every day for every meal wouldn’t suck.  

First piece of uncomfortable business is to discuss the Jabba in the room…this film had trouble from the beginning.  In case you didn’t know, the original writers/directors were Christopher Miller and Phil Lord who are the geniuses behind The Lego Movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and the 21 Jump Street films.  It was a totally daring decision by Disney to allow these two goofballs to direct their Solo spinoff.  The rumor was that the entire cast loved them and loved their script but Disney hated it.  Miller and Lord were accused of making an all-out comedy and Disney thought it was getting too silly.  When Lord and Miller refused to change their vision of the film, they were fired and veteran director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code) was brought in to take over and they ended up reshooting like 70% of the film.  That’s the rumor but you can kind of tell that there’s some truth to some of that story when watching this.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate Solo at all.  It’s a very good movie; it just doesn’t feel like a Star Wars film.  Remember when you watched Rogue One and how it took a second to adjust to a non-saga Star Wars movie?  That’s how Solo feels except it never really adjusts itself like Rogue One did.  It watches like a very highly budgeted and well made piece of fan fiction, which it essentially is since most of the story is pulled from the deep bench books that Star Wars nerds have been consuming their whole lives.  One of those nerds is my friend Matt who I brought to the screening.  He loved it more than I did and I wonder if that was because there’s so much in it that he thought he’d never see but for the normal Star Wars fan (sorry Matt), there’s a lot of plot holes and confusing moments unless you know backstories that pull from 9 different books.

The cast is really good.  Woody Harrelson is actually someone that feels like he’s belonged in a Star Wars film all along and he gives his character a lot of depth.  Donald Glover chews up every scene he’s in as Lando.  Emilia Clarke (HBO’s Game of Thrones) is adequately enjoyable as a complicated love interest.  But let’s talk about the star of the film Aiden Ehrenreich.  I know fanboys ripped him to pieces the second he was cast but he’s actually a charming actor.  First time I saw him was in Stoker and then in the Coen Brothers’ comedy Hail, Caesar, where he managed to upstage George Clooney.  For some reason, he never works as Han Solo though.  He doesn’t remind us of the swaggering Harrison Ford version at all and he comes across as uncomfortable through the whole thing.

When Rogue One came out, I loved it as soon as the movie was over and it actually gets better and better the more I watch it.  Solo is a good film that was fun but feels very forgettable.  Perhaps we expect more from a Star Wars movie and being simply entertaining isn’t enough to please us.  Maybe that’s why I didn’t love it as much as I hoped I would.  Maybe it’s simply a troubled film that had production issues from the beginning and they never ironed it out.  Perhaps that explains my lack of enthusiasm.  But maybe, and it pains me to say this, I’ve had pizza too many times and my favorite food is starting to turn my stomach.