I’ve been critical of the Disney-era Star Wars movies, but out of them all I liked Rogue One best – probably because it wasn’t loaded with all the baggage of the four decades of cinematic history like the ‘main’ trilogy was. Solo is slightly different in that, unlike Rogue One, it very actively ties into the Original Trilogy, though the moniker ‘A Star Wars Story’ means it doesn’t have to carry the full weight of the Star Wars-legacy.
So what did we get?
Solo is a relatively light-hearted heist movie, with lots of action that is interspersed with just about enough character moments to keep you invested in the story. As we have come to expect from a Star Wars-movie, it looks absolutely amazing and fits in great with the absolutely iconic Star Wars-style.
Alden Ehrenreich put in great performances as Han Solo, mimicking Harrison Ford in style and stance to convince me that he was really a younger version of the character. But Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra and Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian were the ones that kept me watching. If anything, Solo made me more curious about their origin stories than I ever was about Han Solo’s.
Solo is very obviously engaging with fans of the Original Trilogy (’Han shot first’; ‘the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs’, etc.). Surprisingly, this is actually not too ham-fisted and doesn’t interfere with the viewing experience of those not steeped in internet culture.
I think Solo’s two biggest misses were (i) the tone deaf portrayal of L3-37, a droid fighting for equal treatment of droids, and (ii) the fact that it thrusts a couple of completely unearned sequel hooks in the viewers’ face at the last moment, which are likely to confuse the casual viewer and do nothing for Solo itself.
In conclusion, Solo is an entertaining, if ultimately somewhat forgettable action movie that tastefully ties into the broader franchise. With that, it easily outperforms Disney’s instalments in the flagship trilogy.
Unfortunately, Solo didn’t do to well at the box office. Personally, I feel the failure of Solo probably had more to do with the poor reception of The Last Jedi and perhaps the fact that it was the fourth Star Wars-movie released in four years than anything about Solo itself.
Either way, a sequel to Solo or another Star Wars Story seems an unlikely prospect, as Disney now focusses on Disney+ and giving each fan-favourite Star Wars-character their own spin off television series (is Jar Jar Binks or R2D2 next?). Perhaps I’ll dig into those too, one day – though at this point I think it is unlikely I’ll ever catch up with all the Star Wars-content that is being churned out these days.