Solo: A Star Wars Story Review

This movie deserves an award. An award for the most unnecessary movie ever made.

I’m gonna be up front with you guys. I did not like this movie. I very much did not like this movie. There are a litany of things wrong with it that I cannot even begin to describe. I mean, I can. I’m about to. I don’t get why people say they can’t begin to describe how bad something is and then they immediately launch into an angry, 1423 word tirade about how bad the movie is.

Wait.

To start, let’s talk about the background of this movie’s production. This movie had a rocky road to the big screen. For one, the movie originally had directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller steering the ship, but they were fired four months into production due to “creative differences.” An alleged actor on the set described how Lord and Miller were unprepared for the gargantuan task that is directing a Star Wars movie, also saying how they didn’t know what they wanted and would do upwards of 25 takes per scene so they could just find the movie in the editing room. An acting coach was apparently brought on so Alden Ehrenreich could be more like Harrison Ford, and the script was apparently “unworkable.” Worst of all, once Ron Howard (the replacement director) was brought on, they reshot the vast majority of the movie. Howard was left essentially trying to put out a dumpster fire with a thimble’s worth of water. It’s an admirable effort, but only slightly effective in the long run. There were simply too many factors working against this movie for it to work.

Some of you will likely be disappointed in my feelings about this movie. Believe me, I’m just as upset. Against all the bad signs, against all my better judgement, I at least expected something entertaining. Because even when movies like Tron: Legacy lack compelling characters or plot, they can at least let me sit back and enjoy the lights. Solo’s bulbs were all burnt out.

Solo is plagued by an extraordinary amount of problems that Star Wars movies should not be plagued by at this point. The most immediately obvious (and most surprising) problem is that the music sucks. Every Star Wars movie before this one, good or bad, has had great music. When everything else fails, you can count on the music to be great in one of these movies. Not here. The music here isn’t whimsical or wondrous, it’s stale. It downplays the traditional sounds that usually populate a Star Wars soundtrack in favor of generic orchestral cacophonies.

A question for you: Did you ever wonder how Han Solo learned how to fly sideways through small spaces? Have you ever thought to yourself “hmm, I wonder how that kooky smuggler got his last name”? Did you ever lie awake at night, unable to sleep because you desperately needed to know why Han calls Chewbacca “Chewie”? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, why? Why did you want to know any of these things? If you answered “no” to all of these questions, congratulations! You clearly don’t work at Disney.

The film acts like the only form of character development allowed is callbacks. Not only is it lazy, it’s frustrating. Trying to sit through emotional scenes between two characters that barely qualify as characters is nothing short of awkward. The actors can’t add more than the bare minimum, so everything else tries to compensate for the lack of motivation the screenplay gives. The score swells, the camera cuts in close, the actors give each other loving looks, but the script’s lack of time put towards actual development leaves the scene limp. Perhaps an even bigger problem with the script is the dialogue, which was sometimes so bad it made Donald Freaking Glover, stupidly charismatic and talented actor™ sometimes seem awkward. I’m almost impressed.

In addition to the unnecessary explanations for things no one asked for explanations of, this movie also has unnecessary plot elements simply for the sake of having them. Han and Emilia Clarke’s romance doesn’t work. They have little chemistry, and it very easily could have been removed in favor of something far more interesting. The last twenty minutes is a series of stupid and convoluted plot twists that are unexpected only because the movie didn’t give any indication that these twists could happen. It’s like they’re trying to disinterest me from the movie more than they already have. There are two plot elements that I was genuinely surprised and pleased to see, however since they’re both spoilers, I can’t say anything about them. It’s not really related to the main plot, so it doesn’t matter all that much anyway. Ask me about them and I’ll tell you.

This movie’s existence downplays some of the emotional significance of Han’s character in Episode 7. Without getting into too many specifics, it’s like they forgot about the character Han was in most of the original trilogy. Han’s a bit of a jerk. He shot first. He leaves the Rebellion multiple times to save his own skin. He’s the kind of character who would rather have a good score than a friend. Aside from Chewie, of course. This movie tries to have a combination of the rascal Han and the father Han, except here he doesn’t have a kid, and he’s also not the kind of character you’d think had a kid he didn’t know about. It feels completely separate from Han’s character. I kept forgetting that this was supposed to be Han; Ehrenreich’s mannerisms and mumblings don’t feel like Ford’s classic character. The movie’s called Solo, but it feels like he doesn’t show up for most of the runtime. Not because he’s not on screen much, but because he’s a different character.

I thought of a pretty good metaphor for this movie. Picture this: A man who refuses to leave his bed has dreams of being a sprinter. There’s nothing wrong with him, nothing preventing him from leaving, he simply refuses to get out of bed. Despite this, he desperately wishes he could run through the fields of Elysium, not a single care weighing on his heart. However, he will not put in the effort to get out of bed. This movie is like that. It wants to be a swashbuckling adventure along the lines of Pirates of the Caribbean, but doesn’t take the necessary steps to become what it so desperately desires to be. The script is the greatest offender here, but the music and the aesthetics of the film fail in this regard as well.

Aw no, I forgot to mention how this movie looks.

This movie looks bad. The sets and costumes are (as expected) good, but pretty much everything else is mediocre to terrible. The movie’s lit pretty well, but someone in the editing bay must have liked DC’s recent cinematic efforts, because they decided to turn down the brightness to the point where some things were difficult to make out. Unlike the DCEU, though, this movie has no reason to look as dark as it does. It’s not attempting a gritty, realistic tone, it’s a goofy space movie. I’d maybe be able to ignore this if the cinematography was anything notable, but it’s not. It’s flat, emotionless, and without purpose. The camera’s usually only there to show what’s happening and nothing more. There aren’t even any visually inspiring moments like there are in most every other Star Wars movie, and this leads into the biggest problem with this movie: lack of inspiration.

People ask me what kind of movie I hate to watch the most, and my answer hasn’t changed: completely average movies. That’s the kind of movie that I struggle to describe the most, because while nothing in these movies is necessarily poorly done, nothing is well done either. Movies like this usually have no soul, no inspiration behind them. If you’re wondering what I mean by inspiration, I mean moments like that part in The Last Jedi where Admiral Holdo hyperdrives into the Imperial Fleet. Moments like Luke watching the Tatooine sunset in A New Hope. Moments where you can clearly see why the director did the scene or moment the way he did. There’s nothing like that here. The movie lacks personality, it lacks flavor. It feels exactly like the corporate product hardcore Star Wars fans have been calling every Disney Star Wars movie that’s come out, except worse. Much worse.

3/10.

Up next: Something, for sure.

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