Review - SOLO A Star Wars Story
I have to admit I was perplexed. Many of my friends loved the new Star Wars movie, SOLO-A Star Wars Story. Yet so many of the reviews out there were negative in tone. How could this be? So this evening I got the last ticket to the last showing at my nearby cineplex and settled in for two hours. I was half expecting to be disappointed. I often do not agree with big time Hollywood reviewers because its their job to whine about movies. They go into every movie with the wrong attitude. They prey on failure and often output little else than negativity. But with so many folks piling on the mediocre reviews, I was worried.
I was delighted to discover SOLO is a lot of fun. I thoroughly enjoyed every thrilling minute of it.
So why so much negativity?
Nowadays we have a whole new realm of movie reviewers. Bloggers and vloggers who take to YouTube to try to nudge each other out of the social media spotlight fully knowing that a bad review gets more clicks than a good one.
Plus there has been a strange movement building up on the internet (which is rarely a good thing) where self proclaimed Star Wars super fans are attempting to protest the path producer Kathleen Kennedy has allowed the new Star Wars movies to take. So many of these social media reviewers started pre-hating SOLO months before it was even released. They started a campaign to get people to avoid seeing Solo during its opening weekend as a way to send a financial message to Disney to put someone else in charge of the Star Wars franchise.
While I believe everyone has a right to their own opinion, its this group viral opinion shaping behavior by social media nerds that has me concerned.
Specifically, what do they want from a Star Wars movie that Kennedy and Disney has not delivered?
Have all the new Star Wars movies introduced new likable characters? Yes. Have they tapped into the fun factor that made the original movies so enjoyable? Yes. Have they paid suitable homage to the original movies we love? Yes! Are we given new ideas to keep the franchise fresh? Yes!
So what exactly do all these “disappointed fans” want from the new movies?
I have spent some time listening to the whining and I still struggle to hear one defining idea that all these people feel is missing. Oh they have plenty of complaints as to what they do not like from the new movies. But often even their complaining is not unified in any particular way.
Some fans complained that Rae turned out to be too much of a Mary Sue character. Too perfect. Too skilled. But how did they expect a future Jedi to behave? Fans complained that Han was (spoiler alert) killed off too soon in the series and the old characters were just used to sell tickets and launch the new characters. Well yeh. Duh. And what’s wrong with that? It was a beautiful hand off (the original characters are getting old folks and they don’t want to run around space stations anymore). Some fans complained that Rogue One relied too much on Star Wars lore to be a good stand alone movie. Um. That was one of the most stupid complaints I have heard yet. Its a movie about stealing the Death Star plans, why on earth would you care about how good or bad it might have been if it were not associated with the Star Wars franchise? They are literally arguing that if Rogue One was a completely different movie, a movie it is not, it probably would not be all that good. Sigh.
The point here is there is nothing Disney/Kennedy can do that will make everyone happy. They get criticized for being too much like the original movies then they get criticized for taking too many risks. Hell, they get criticized for making a good movie that might not be as good if it were not part of the Star Wars franchise. How do these super fans lead the rest of their lives? Do they go into a McDonalds and whine about how they don’t serve Whoppers? Do they go into Apple Stores demanding service on their Android phones? What miserable lives they must be leading because they cannot relax and enjoy something simple and fun like a Star Wars movie.
SOLO-A Star Wars Story is a ton of fun. I have actually read negative reviews that complain that this movie delivers exactly what they expected from a movie about a young Han Solo. And this is a bad thing, how? Geez. A movie that lives up to expectations these days is a triumph. And while SOLO is not going to unseat any of my favorite top four Star Wars movies (New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, Force Awakens, Rogue One), it will find a comfortable landing spot at number 5 on my list! And that is a pretty respectable ranking, folks!
That means SOLO is better than all the prequels, it is better than Return of the Jedi (I have a hard time forgiving Lucas for overthrowing the Empire with teddy bears) and it is better than The Last Jedi.
I am proud of Disney for not trying to anchor this movie on a bad Harrison Ford imitation. There are enough similarities in the swagger of young Solo’s Alden Ehrenreich portrayal that those comparisons do not sink the movie one bit. I have to say, this was great casting.
The movie gives us snapshots, never long expositions, into Han’s formative teen years where he conspires to escape the filthy underworld of the ship yards of Corrilia with his girlfriend Qi’ra played by Game of Thrones’ Emillia Clarke. She also turns out to be a pleasant surprise. In fact, I kept waiting for a bad performance (figuring that might be why the movie had attracted so many mediocre reviews) but right down the cast list; Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany and even Wookie cloaked Joonas Suotamo were all really good in their roles.
It’s hard to pinpoint just what point of the evil Galactic Empire’s development this adventure takes place. We see how Han joins the Imperial Navy as a means of escape and where he gets his flight training. We pick up with Han as a flight school wash out now serving with ground infantry down in the mud during a massive planetary assault. There in the trenches he stumbles upon Beckett and his band of thieves plotting to steal a heavy lifting shuttle craft.
Without giving away too many spoilers, this is where Han meets Chewbacca and begins his career as a professional scoundrel.
Hats off to Ron Howard. I often find his movies a little too slow paced for their own good and i was genuinely concerned that his directorial touch would unnecessarily bog down this movie too. That is not the case at all. In fact I was rather delighted with the quick pace of this film. One adventure seems to lead right into another. While characters actually do have some time to interact in the entertaining ways we have come to expect from good Star Wars movies.
So yeh, SOLO is a good Star Wars movie. Ignore the whiny super fans who have lost touch with what the Star Wars phenomenon really is. It is a simple popcorn space fantasy written to entertain 12 year old kids. It lets those of us a little older than 12 tap into that feeling for a couple of hours. Thats about it. And there is not a damn thing wrong with that.