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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Solo: A Star Wars Story movie review: where has our scoundrel gone?

Solo A Star Wars Story yellow light

MaryAnn’s quick take…
A Star Wars–flavored juice drink* of a movie (*contains 10% real juice) that tells us nothing of significance we didn’t already know about Han Solo, in an incarnation that lacks his essential charisma and precarious danger.tweet
I’m “biast” (pro): huge Star Wars fan
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
women’s participation in this film
male director, male screenwriter, male protagonist
(learn more about this)

How did Han Solo meet Chewbacca? How did he meet Lando Calrissian? How did he become captain of the Millennium Falcon? How did he get involved with Jabba the Hutt? How did he get his blaster (because of course he couldn’t have just bought it at the blaster counter at a Corellian Walmart)? Just what is the Kessel Run, anyway, and how did Han fly it in the apparently unheard-of time of “12 parsecs”?

The fastest hunk-a-junk in the galaxy was a lot shinier and cleaner when Lando owned it...

The fastest hunk-a-junk in the galaxy was a lot shinier and cleaner when Lando owned it…

Solo: A Star Wars Story informs us that, astonishingly, all of Han’s backstory that we’ve heard mentioned across the Star Wars movies occurred in the span of a mere few days! And it involves a lot of enormous coincidence and everybody knowing everybody else, even in this big wide galaxy. Why, it’s almost as if the Force were strong with Han. Except we already knew that there’s no mystical energy field that controls his destiny.

The Force is about the only Star Wars trope that isn’t checked off in the box-ticking exercise that is this Star Wars–flavored juice drink* of a movie. (*Contains 10% real juice.) We get lots of interesting planets, funny droids, giant space monsters menacing passing starships, and a visit to an exotic bar where creatures make alien music and humans drink weird booze. There are shootouts with Imperial stormtroopers, daring last-minute escapes, and the Millennium Falcon being tracked by a mysterious masked figure even though its captain thinks he’s too hot-shit for that to happen. And that’s all cool. That’s great. But it’s only backdrop.

We discover how Han got the surname Solo, but the scene so cringe-inducing that you can’t believe that the movie attempts to get away with it.
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It’s the story — the actual, you know, meat of the thing — that fails to give us any real reason to show up. The muddled heist plot about Woody Harrelson (War for the Planet of the Apes, The Edge of Seventeen) leading a gang out to steal some incredibly valuable and powerful starship “hyperfuel” gives zero opportunity for us to learn anything about his latest recruit, Han (Alden Ehrenreich: Hail, Caesar!, Beautiful Creatures), that we didn’t already know. Well, okay, no: We discover how Han got the surname Solo (because of course it couldn’t just be his actual surname), but that “explanation” is so obvious and the scene so cringe-inducing that you can’t believe that the movie attempts to get away with it. (It’s hard to accept that Solo was written by Lawrence Kasdan, whose very first screen credit is the brilliantly scripted Empire Strikes Back; he also contributed to The Force Awakens. His son, Jonathan, also gets a screenwriting credit here.) The stakes are so low for Han: we know he can’t die; we know he can’t divert too much from his scoundrel-with-a-heart-of-gold persona. Ehrenreich is barely younger than Harrison Ford was when they shot the first Star Wars movie — he’s already an adult, and clearly not too far from his meeting with Luke Skywalker and Ben Kenobi on Tatooine — so there’s no temporal room for him to change or grow. He’s a character on a treadmill.

And maybe even that wouldn’t matter if we were just killing time with the Han Solo we know. But Ehrenreich isn’t only a little short for Han Solo, he lacks Ford’s charisma, his ineffable oddball way of being funny and serious at the same time. Ehrenreich is cute but he’s bland. (ETA: On second thought…) Ford blazed with precarious danger; Ehrenreich’s Han is, well, cuddly. That’s not right.

There is not enough thigh holster in the movie. Like, this is pretty much it. I am extremely disappointed.

There is not enough thigh holster in the movie. Like, this is pretty much it. I am extremely disappointed.

I wish Lucasfilm had had the nerve to stick with their original directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, whose gonzo sense of humor — they made Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and the Jump Street movies — seemed like the perfect match for Han’s personality. The Star Wars movies could use a shaking up, and this movie could have been perfect for that, since it’s not only standalone but entirely tangential. Apparently Lord and Miller scared Disney with their comedic take on the character when the studio wanted an action movie. But their new director, Ron Howard (Inferno, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years), has turned in action sequences that are incoherent — it’s almost impossible to tell what’s going on in most of them — while also letting the few attempts at humor fizzle. (One big intended laugh is so completely underplayed and the dialogue so muffled that it’s totally baffling.)

What’s left? There’s some tacked-on rebellion stuff that feels like more box-ticking, and female characters (Thandie Newton’s [Gringo, Half of a Yellow Sun]; Emilia Clarke’s [Me Before You, Terminator Genisys]) who are treated appallingly, their existence little more than mere motivation to spur on the men. Donald Glover’s (Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Martian) Lando is a suave side dish, but mostly Solo is all very pat and tidy and buttoned-down and oh-so familiar. It doesn’t feel very outlaw. Han Solo would be disgusted.


Click here for my ranking of this and 2018’s other theatrical releases.


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Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) | directed by Ron Howard
US/Can release: May 25 2018
UK/Ire release: May 24 2018

MPAA: rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence
BBFC: rated 12A (moderate violence)

viewed in 2D IMAX
viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • Owen1120

    If his name is just Solo because he likes to work alone, which I came up with in 30 seconds, I am not going to be happy.

    How was Phoebe Waller-Bridge? She and Glover are pretty much the only reasons why I’m seeing the movie.

  • Tonio Kruger

    It’s hard to accept that Solo was written by Lawrence Kasdan, whose very first screen credit is the brilliantly scripted Empire Strikes Back; he also contributed to The Force Awakens.

    Well, in all fairness, Kasdan did have help on that first one — both from the late Leigh Brackett — who wrote the first draft — and from George Lucas, who revised Brackett’s version to make it darker.

    Still I get your point. He has done better work in the past.

    Also:

    Donald Glover from Community gets to be in this movie but not Danny Pudi? That just seems so wrong…

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Kasdan has also written some godawful scripts:
    Grand Canyon
    Wyatt Earp
    Dreamcatcher (*shudder*)
    Return of the Jedi (Fight me)

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I’m not gonna lie:

    Part of me would be perfectly happy if this movie underperforms and the notion of making origin stories about existing characters is quickly and quietly abandoned by Lucasfilm/Disney.

  • His name is Solo because…

    He is asked who his people are, who his family is, and he says he has none, has no family. So he is given the surname Solo. Though later he also discusses his father, so clearly he was old enough to have memories of his family while they were still around, and hence should know what name they came with. It’s all really dumb.

    How was Phoebe Waller-Bridge? She and Glover are pretty much the only reasons why I’m seeing the movie.

    They’re good. They should get their own movie.

  • Or they could just make better movies!

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Setting aside that of it were that easy, we’d never have bad movies, that’s not what I want. Or rather, don’t want.

    I didn’t want Solo. I don’t want Calrissian, or Fett, or Antilles, or Mothma, or Windu, or Binks…

    Actually, I would like Binks, but just cause haters gonna hate. :-P

  • whiskytangofoxtrot

    I’ll stick with the version that has Han throwing people out of airlocks and Chewie building a hang-glider out of the corpse of an alien pterodactyl.

  • Joel Raynor

    I remember those stories! Hands down would have been a much more exciting movie, guaranteed.

  • Michiel Deinema

    Trailer didn’t really fill me with hype. The lukewarm reviews aren’t making it any better. I will obviously still see it in a movie theater, because, well, duh, it’s Star Wars, but meh. With the amount of Star Wars movies Disney is pumping out, they’re kind of killing the mysticism of the Star Wars universe for me.

  • This sounds familiar to me: Was this in the Brian Daley novels of the early 80s? I loved those!

  • CB

    Oh great now the SW Disneyverse is going down the same dark path as the prequels and the Extended Universe — take literally everything mentioned/shown in the orginal movies and explaaaaain it. Especially annoying are in-universe explanations for things that are solely the consequence of out-of-universe stuff. TFA had the perfect reference to the Kessel Run, but now we gotta explaaaain.

    It’s like when Star Trek:DS9 went back to the original series Trouble with Tribbles episode, with DS9 characters digitally added to scenes. They lampshaded the change in Klingon design with Worf saying “We don’t talk about it with outsiders!” and it was perfect. Then ST:Enterprise devoted a two-parter to explaaaaining in-universe what was really due to having a bigger budget for a movie than the TV show.

  • whiskytangofoxtrot

    Yeah. The airlock incident happened in the first book, “Han Solo at Stars’ End”, and the glider part was in the second, “Han Solo’s Revenge”.

  • I gotta read those again…

  • Rick Baumhauer

    I absolutely loved the Daley novels, and thought it telling that the powers-that-were felt good enough about them that he was hired to script the Radio Dramas (which are still worth a listen, even though they now feel more than a little anachronistic). He really nailed Han’s voice, and I especially loved that he pretty much avoided the whole Empire/Rebellion thing, which made the universe feel bigger. Everything since keeps making the Star Wars Galaxy feel like a mid-sized midwestern city, as you noted in this review.

    One of my big complaints about “Solo” is that, in addition to checking off EVERY important event in his backstory, it both feels oddly inconsequential and doesn’t really leave any room for the Han of the Daley novels. Whatever time passes between the end of “Solo” and the cantina in “Star Wars” apparently involves him going from being the “good guy” (groan) we see here to a bit of a hardened scoundrel and back to “a nice man”. Not that compelling an arc…

  • Bluejay

    Donald Glover from Community gets to be in this movie but not Danny Pudi? That just seems so wrong…

    They should’ve cast Danny Pudi as Han Solo. :-)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeYmYNz6nbA

  • Bluejay

    – Spoilers –

    Some thoughts in no particular order:

    Too many damn callbacks (call-forwards?) and Easter eggs. Really, a thermal detonator scenario? Really, the way Han and Chewie meet is almost exactly how they meet again in ROTJ after Han’s defrosting? Really, the fake-punch-turning-into-a-hug that Lando uses on Han in ESB was actually used by Han on Lando first? I don’t think the story was compelling enough on its own to support all that fan service. (I did appreciate a few: Lando and Han’s “I hate you/I know” exchange, and the story making a point of Han actually shooting first toward the end.)

    Yeah, the “Solo” name origin is pretty groan-inducing. On the other hand, it seems par for the course for Star Wars, which traffics in some pretty heavily archetype-signalling names: the villain is Dark Father; the evil cyborg leader from the prequels is General Horrible Adjective; other Darths are named Maul and Plague(is) and (In)Sidious, wink wink; and the farmboy hero is Luke Most-Hopeful-And-Inspiring-Surname-Ever. But at least the films never spelled out HOW they got those names the way this film feels compelled to.

    I would watch a movie about any one of the women in this film, including Thandie Newton (horribly wasted) and especially Erin Kellyman, who plays the pirate leader Enfys Nest. (Wait, did she actually START the Rebellion? And if so, why isn’t the whole damn movie about her?)

    I was really hoping these stand-alone films would be opportunities to tell NEW Star Wars stories about brand-new characters and adventures, not filling in the gaps of stories we already know. But if we’re going to get prequels about familiar characters, there’s a screamingly obvious one that isn’t being made: a LEIA story. We arguably didn’t need a Han movie, because he already got a significant character arc in the prior films; Leia arrived in Star Wars fully formed, a princess-diplomat-spy, who doesn’t grow or change all that much in the trilogy beyond her romance with Han. How cool would it be to see her early life on Alderaan (and to see Alderaan!), defying her adoptive parents, getting caught up in palace intrigues, running clandestine missions for the Rebellion? Instead, we’re apparently getting a Boba Fett movie. Ugh.

    Okay, so how is Darth Maul (who shows up to holographically talk to Qi’ra) still alive at this time? If memory serves, he was killed by Obi-Wan in The Phantom Menace, back when Darth Vader was still a kid. This film presumably takes place long after that. And if the reason is that Maul was somehow brought back to life in the TV shows or some other media, that’s a flimsy excuse; most moviegoers wouldn’t know about that and would be confused as to why a dead character is back onscreen. (There’s a reason why Coulson hasn’t shown up in any post-Avengers Marvel movies, even if he’s alive and well on TV.)

    The whole thing just feels like a missed opportunity. And Alden Ehrenreich just feels woefully miscast. (Why they didn’t hire Anthony Ingruber, who did a dead-on Young Harrison Ford in Age of Adaline, I have no idea.)

  • Stacy Livitsanis

    “And if the reason is that Maul was somehow brought back to life in the
    TV shows or some other media, that’s a flimsy excuse; most moviegoers
    wouldn’t know about that and would be confused as to why a dead
    character is back onscreen”

    That’s exactly what they’ve done. Maul was resurrected in the Clone Wars TV series and is apparently in Rebels. But if, like me, you’ve only seen the movies, when he shows up in Solo it’s baffling, followed by the realisation that it’s a stupid piece of cross-promotion within the brand.

  • Stacy Livitsanis

    Where The Last Jedi’s brilliance resurrected my interest in Star Wars from total apathy, Solo makes me want to abandon this moribund sinking ship and never look back. As others have said, I hope this fails and that Disney learns the right lesson from that failure. But doubtful that’ll happen (a goddamn Boba Fett movie?!).

    Solo throws away good ideas, like the impromptu droid uprising. That could have been something interesting, but they’re not interested in following where that might lead. Among the few positives, it was nice to see Warwick Davis onscreen in a Star Wars movie as himself for once.

    Here’s a serious question: Was it the projection at my screening, or is this one of the worst-looking movies ever made? The cinematography was appalling, with very low light and practically no colour. If that’s really the look they wanted, I give up. It’s a movie, turn the lights on!

  • Yup, all of this.

  • Did you see it in 3D? I saw the film again — hoping to find something to really LOVE — this time in 3D, and it was so dark and muddy that it’s almost impossible to tell what’s going on half the time.

  • Thank the Maker, the Brian Daley Han Solo novels are available on Kindle. Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2L1Skt7 Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2ISnrGT

  • Danielm80

    I almost always see blockbusters in 3D, and I’m almost always disappointed, but the few exceptions are worth the effort. This was not an exception.

    I didn’t find the picture dark and muddy so much as gloomy. I could make out everything that was happening, but it made me want to kill myself, just because the skies were so oppressively grey. At first, I thought it was a metaphor for Corellia, and another reason Han wanted to escape, but the skies just kept being grey for more than half the movie.

    I actually thought the photography was spectacular, just depressing. The storyboards in the early sequences were extremely dull, and the camera was usually pointed at the wrong thing, but the images themselves were bleakly beautiful and–once the sun finally came out–utterly gorgeous.

  • Danielm80

    …and the farmboy hero is Luke Most-Hopeful-And-Inspiring-Surname-Ever.

    Ironically, when the Norse god Loki shows up in Neil Gaiman’s stories, he often refers to himself as Loki Skywalker, because he has the magical ability to travel across the sky. Gaiman claims the term comes from the original Norse texts, although I think he’s taking more than a little poetic license.

  • Bluejay

    Was it the projection at my screening, or is this one of the worst-looking movies ever made?

    Possibly both. Many theaters have problems with projection and other issues. But even at my favorite theater with my preferred screen brightness, the movie was dark and muddy. If The Last Jedi – whose mood was considerably grimmer than Solo – was able to have gorgeous cinematography and vivid color, there’s no reason for this film not to have colors that pop.

  • Bluejay

    – Spoiler –

    And another thought: They should really retire the line “Don’t trust anybody.” At this point, it’s NEVER a surprise when the character who gives this advice turns out to be the traitor. “I told you not to trust anybody, heh heh.” It’s just cliched screenwriting that gives the game away.

  • Bluejay

    I thought it was a metaphor for Corellia, and another reason Han wanted to escape

    They should’ve peppered the soundtrack with Bruce Springsteen songs. Han is basically a Springsteen character. “It’s a town full of losers, I’m pulling out of here to win!”

  • Stacy Livitsanis

    I saw it in 2D. I only see movies in 2D because I’m blind in one eye. I hear all the stories about dim and murky 3D projection and can only wonder what it looks like and weirdly be grateful that I’ll never experience that, unless they develop 3D for one-eyed people. But with Solo’s muddy palette (a misguided attempt to seem ‘gritty’?), maybe this is what people are talking about. For a $250 million movie, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect something better than this.

  • Stacy Livitsanis

    Think you’re right about it being both. The image was so distractingly poor it was hard to concentrate on the movie. Or maybe that reflects how engaged I was with the movie. I’m curious enough to wait a few months and see what Solo looks like at home.

    It’s a sad truth now that many films look better at home on blu-ray than they do in the only cinema I have easy access to, and with negligible price differences, the impetus to go to the theatre lessens every year. Solo is only the fifth time I’ve been in 2018. But then most of the films I want to see don’t make it to cinemas anyway.

  • RogerBW

    Putting in all the callbacks at once suggests a lack of confidence – that this will be the only Han Solo film, rather than the first of a series.

    When I saw the trailer, my first thought was that Star Wars was doing a caper movie, in much the same way that Rogue One was Star Wars doing a war movie in the style of Operation Crossbow. But there are good and bad caper movies, and simply taking Generic Caper Plot #3 and pasting on spaceships and silly rotating trains does not make for a compelling experience.

    And the elephant in the room for me is the lead. Like so many young actors these days, he looks as if the hardest thing in his life has been running out of his favourite cereal and not having time to buy more before he has to go out to work. That’s not a look I find particularly interesting, and for Han Solo, even a young Han Solo, it’s especially inappropriate.

  • A Han Solo movie could have been *Ocean’s 11* in space.

  • RogerBW

    Yeah.

    But Star Wars is just another Budweiser property now: make it in quantity, remove anything quirky or interesting, because mass appeal is the first and last goal. I’m just surprised Last Jedi deviated from the formula as much as it did.

  • David_Conner

    And not only would that be more fun, it’s, like, the *obvious* way to go with a Solo movie!

    This movie suffers from the same problem as the old Star Wars “Expanded Universe” in that it, paradoxically, makes the universe feel smaller. Every character is important (Hammerhead’s an exiled priest! Snaggletooth is a tortured artist! Coming soon, *Bespin Ice Cream Maker Guy*, a trilogy of novels!) There are no throwaway lines – every single utterance from Episodes IV-VI carries volumes of significance!

    Here, it’s like they were thinking constantly “OMG, we have to keep the origin of Han’s blaster! We may never get another chance! We’ve already had to cut the secret origin of Han’s pants, but the blaster – that’s a line I shall not cross!”

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    …ew…

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    What makes you think this was intended as anything but a one-off. That’s supposed to be the point of the “Star Wars Story” movies, is it not? They literally nuked the entire cast of Rogue One, in a re-shoot no less, just to drive home the point.

  • RogerBW

    If this had been a huge success, do you really think there wouldn’t have been a Solo 2? At least we were spared that.

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  • Bluejay

    But as you just said, the film checked off practically ALL the boxes on his backstory, and ends with Han and Chewie heading to Tatooine. I’m not sure they left themselves a lot of room to tell other stories, unless the sequel is titled Solo 2: The Hunt for Han’s Vest.

    Having said that, Disney did confirm that a Boba Fett film is happening. I’d say the chances of Fett’s nemesis showing up are pretty high.

  • Beowulf

    “Han” reportedly signed up for two more films–if the studio wishes to make them.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I let you know right after Rouge Two.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I have not heard that.

  • Carl Eusebius

    Seconded for a Leia movie, if we really must do more solo (heh) movies about established characters.

    And as for the Boba Fett film…when even the actor who *originally played Boba Fett* says he’s a more effective character the less you know about him, I can’t fathom why you’d go that route, except for the money.

  • RogerBW

    The money, and the traditional fanboy failure to realise that mystery can be important. The Kessel Run is better without an explanation; like “Episode IV”, it gives you the impression that Big Things have been happening before you sat down to watch the film.

  • Bluejay

    Solo throws away good ideas, like the impromptu droid uprising.

    Very true. And the more I think about it, the more upsetting it is that Star Wars has gone through nine films without ever addressing what is basically the enslavement of an entire class of sentient beings.

    Also, I just read this argument about the ramifications of L3-37’s fate. I agree — it’s horrifying. And not a good look on either Han or Lando.

  • Bluejay
  • Stacy Livitsanis

    Those articles sum up perfectly a lot of what’s thematically despicable about the film. One more reason why prequels are always a bad idea. Holdo going to lightspeed through the First Order ships in The Last Jedi doesn’t retroactively ruin anything. I can easily wave away criticisms of that on the grounds that it’s a perfect cinematic moment that we’ve never seen before, and it’s better to be thrilling and cinematic than to always worry about pedantic box-ticking retrospective logical consistency that isn’t really important. But Solo’s throwaway attitude to things like droid autonomy didn’t feel like that. It’s sloppy, lazy and a symptom of this movie’s careless ineptitude.

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  • Jurgan

    Solo: A Star Wars Story informs us that, astonishingly, all of Han’s backstory that we’ve heard mentioned across the Star Wars movies occurred in the span of a mere few days!

    This is also why I hate the opening of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indy got his whip and his scar and his hat and his fear of snakes all on the same day. George Lucas was making prequel mistakes early on, but I would have hoped that with him gone Star Wars would learn from his mistakes. Oh, well, maybe I’ll catch this on Netflix.

  • Jurgan

    I prefer the Kessel Run’s explanation that was written in the original script of Star Wars: namely, that Han was just making up some BS because he figured Ben and Luke were a couple of rubes who would fall for any cool-sounding story.

  • RogerBW

    But it was fine when Doctor Who did it? (Not for me, but many people loved that episode because whatever you think of his plotting decisions Gaiman can still write.)

    Similarly, the enslavement of house elves in Harry Potter.

  • Bluejay

    But it was fine when Doctor Who did it?

    I haven’t watched much Doctor Who, so I literally have no idea what you’re talking about. :-)

    Similarly, the enslavement of house elves in Harry Potter.

    The books and movies (moreso the books) do deal with this, though. Dobby’s liberation is central to the story, not just a humorous aside, and we never see elf labor to the same pervasive extent that we see (unquestioned) droid labor in Star Wars. And at least one of the books talks extensively about Hermione founding a society for the rights and liberation of house elves. (And Hermione meets a much better fate than L3-37.)

  • Bluejay

    I personally enjoyed the Last Crusade flashback section, because it came across as more of a playful and lighthearted “Just So” story, not a dutiful box-checking slog. It also wasn’t the point of the entire movie. And River Phoenix was a more natural and captivating Young Ford than Alden Ehrenreich is.

    Remember too that the first prequel to Raiders was Temple of Doom, which didn’t bother with filling in Raiders backstory but was simply a completely different Indiana Jones adventure.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I haven’t watched much Doctor Who, so I literally have no idea what you’re talking about. :-)

    Spoilers for Doctor Who

    The two Gaiman episodes for that show that I remember best were “The Doctor’s Wife” and a cyberman episode. I have yet to see an episode of DW that argued that being turned into a cyberman was a good thing and “The Doctor’s Wife” seemed to imply that the Doctor was more at the mercy of the sentient Tardis than vice versa. Plus, as much as I hate arguments of authority, I don’t seem to remember MaryAnn having an issue with that — perhaps because the relationship was portrayed more as an “elopement” than a kidnapping. And, of course, the Tardis was portrayed as a being with a considerable will of her own who chose the Doctor as much as the Doctor chose her.

    There was an episode in the David Tennant era that made considerable use of the old “rebellious slave” trope. However, even that episode was more of an exception than the rule. Indeed, in many episodes — especially in the first series during the Tom Baker era — the Doctor would actually help organize and lead rebellions. And not just against “conventional” foes like the Cybermen and the Daleks.

  • Tonio Kruger

    True. And for every question answered, many more were left to the viewer’s imagination. For example, we were never given many details about Indy and Marion’s early relationship and I doubt we ever will. And all that is just as well since part of the difference between a good storyteller and a mediocre storyteller is knowing what parts to tell and what parts to leave to the imagination.

  • Jim Mann

    Based on the ages for the characters, there are a number of years between Solo and A New Hope, so there is room for more Solo movies if they decided they wanted to make one.

    As for heading to Tatooine, there certainly is room for the story of Han’s dealing with Jaba and his gangsters.

  • Bluejay

    Ooh, a movie about Han dealing with Jabba! Will Jabba hire him for a job? Will he carry it out successfully, or screw it up somehow? Will a pissed-off Jabba put a price on his head? Will he meet and fall out with Greedo? Will he and Chewie survive the trouble they get into? Will they eventually wind up hanging out at a cantina in some wretched hive of scum and villainy? Gee, the suspense is killing me! I can’t wait to find out! :-)

    Sigh. Just give me new characters and new stories. Otherwise, the whole Star Wars galaxy is just a waste of space.

  • CB

    Yeah I’ve seen the note [Ben reacts to Han’s obvious disinformation] which is cool but doesn’t explain why Han would make something up using the wrong units entirely, if he knew what a “parsec” was. The real answer was the writer didn’t.

  • Stacy Livitsanis
  • Bluejay

    Thanks for that link. I don’t think that lets the cinematographer off the hook, though. He says “his increasingly dark images are partially an artistic response to the dark times facing the world today” — but that just makes it seem like he indiscriminately prefers low-light cinematography as a general statement, whether it fits the film or not. Solo is intended as a “light” film, and its defenders describe it as such; it should have brighter colors.

  • David_Conner

    I got a free pass from Alamo due to a technical issue, so I saw the movie for a second time. Like MaryAnn, I was “hoping to find something to really LOVE.” I didn’t really, but I did LIKE it more the second time, at least. Trying to accept the movie on its own terms, it’s pretty good… it’s just that so MANY of the choices they made seem so wrongheaded to me.

    For starters, it has the same fundamental problem with a lot of recent “origin” movies (Man of Steel and the new Star Trek come to mind among many others) in that I’m way more interested in the hypothetical movie that comes AFTER this one.

    Who gives a crap, really, about what Han Solo was like as a 28 year old street urchin pining after a lost love, BEFORE he becomes a scoundrel? But this story, we’ve seen before (really, except around the edges, how different is young Han from young Luke or Rey?)

    There are so many more fun things they could have done, like show Han as captain of his own ship… i.e., some REAL piece of garbage he was flying before winning the Falcon!

  • David_Conner

    Or, alternatively, “Lazy Ol’ Moon: A Star Wars Story!”

  • There’s also the matter of Lando grieving over L3’s body as the reason why he gives Han permission to fly the Falcon for the first time.

  • Bluejay

    Was that the only reason? I thought he also got injured and *couldn’t* fly the Falcon.

  • Seems to me it was just that he was overcome with grief.

  • Oolon1120

    I finally saw it! I mostly enjoyed it after the first act- I actually thought the action sequences were really fun. What was the big intended laugh you mentioned?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I’m not sure it makes sense to complain about the amount of fan service in a story that serves no other purpose than fan service.

    Why is everyone in love with Enfys Nest? Her heel-face turn (indeed, her entire subplot) is meaningless. She’s not even an interesting character on paper. And Erin Kellyman isn’t given enough screen time to demonstrate she has anything but an interesting look. And no, Nest and her Cloud-Raiders didn’t start the Rebellion. Wherever we are in the timeline (be it a few weeks or a few years before A New Hope), the Rebellion is well under way, being built up and supplied by Mon Mothma and Bail Organa, among others.

    Obi Wan did kill Maul, but not when you think. The Clone Wars and Rebels series are currently considered canonical by Disney/Lucasfilm. Near the end of Rebels, Obi Wan kills Maul in a surprisingly affecting and Kurosawa-esque duel on Tattoine, of all places: https://youtu.be/jeG215-yu-k
    His inclusion in Solo is fan service-y, but again, that’s this movies raison d’etre.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Ehrenreich. Clearly Kathleen Kennedy and/or Lord and Miller didn’t want a Harrison Ford impressionist. Which is one of the few non-fan service-y choices this movie made. So…

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    After a couple weeks contemplation, I’ve come to the conclusion that Solo is fine. It’s fine. It’s just unnecessary in it’s conception.

    I’m reminded of Kurt Vonnegut’s Rule #5: Start as close to the end as possible.

    The fact of the matter is this: nothing interesting ever happened to Han Solo, until the day he took a meeting with Ben Kenobi in the cantina at Mos Eisley. That’s when he becomes important. That’s when he stops being a low-level smuggler and becomes a hero of the galaxy.

    Sure, things happened to him. Things happen to everybody. But none of it is interesting. It’s all just color. Han Solo’s story begins in A New Hope, and ends in The Force Awakens. (Really, it ends in The Empire Strikes Back. He appears in Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, but only to be a part of other people’s stories.)

    This is the fundamental problem of, really, any prequel that deals with established characters. It it can do is tell us what we already know, and maybe provide some details we don’t really care about. This also explains, better than almost* anything, Solo’s middling box office performance. The audience that actually cares to know anything Solo could possibly have to say is, in modern box terms terms, vanishingly small. Rogue One kind of avoided this by using new characters to tell a story only hinted at in the existing lore. (Personally, I don’t think it did a particularly good job of it, but R1 made like all the money, so… yeah.)

    There’s really nothing more this movie could have done with Han, not without fundamentally changing the character, without a way to incorporate those changes into later stories. Do you make Han a total bastard? Then why does he swoop in to save Luke at the Death Star? Do you make him an unabashed hero? They why is he playing the jerk when we meet him on Tattooine? Do you just make him just exactly the same character we meet at the beginning of A New Hope? Then he has no character arc. Solo gives us the only real option: show both sides, with him ending as ANH!Han. Which is a bit confusing and kind of dull, but fine.

    It’s fine.

  • Bluejay

    I’m not sure it makes sense to complain about the amount of fan service in a story that serves no other purpose than fan service.

    So a variation on N5 (2015)? Really?

    Why is everyone in love with Enfys Nest? … She’s not even an interesting character on paper. And Erin Kellyman isn’t given enough screen time to demonstrate she has anything but an interesting look.

    You could say exactly the same of Boba Fett in the original films. Looks like HE’s getting a movie. Why not her? At least she got more dialogue, got to show her face, and didn’t have a disappointing death scene. On paper, “young girl pirate/secret rebel leader” is at least as interesting as “bounty hunter with cool helmet” if not more. A movie about her would be less fan-servicey (as she has zero history for fans to obsess over) and thus might be a better story. And having more female-led SW films is always a plus.

    Obi Wan did kill Maul, but not when you think. The Clone Wars and Rebels series are currently considered canonical by Disney/Lucasfilm.

    No thanks, not going to watch a TV show as homework for a movie.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Mindless? Not at all. But fan service is the baseline function of this film.

    You could say that. And a Fett film, if it happens, is also destined to be an unnecessary and disappointing nostalgia trip, one based on almost 40 years of fanwank. And I already played Bounty Hunter on my GameCube, 15 years ago. But Boba Fett at least served a function in the plot to Empire. As for Nest, at this point she needs a follow up movie to justify her presence in this movie. If that happens, and it’s a good movie, great! Until then, meh.

    I’m not suggesting otherwise. Personally, I’ve probably seen less than 60 minutes of both series in total. But I do like that scene.

  • Bluejay

    But fan service is the baseline function of this film.

    And it’s not valid to complain about that?

  • Bluejay

    Also: there’s fan service, and then there’s clunky fan service. You really, really don’t need a thermal detonator scene in there, for instance. Or Woody Harrelson saying “Betcha don’t know what it’s like to have a price on your head, wink wink.”

  • Bluejay

    As for Nest, at this point she needs a follow up movie to justify her presence in this movie.

    My original comment was that I wished the movie was about her INSTEAD of about Solo in the first place. It’s another failure of this movie, that it shunts aside its more intriguing characters, with potentially interesting new stories, in favor of telling this unnecessary one.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    My original response was that I don’t find anything intriguing about her at all, in conception or execution. She doesn’t advance the plot, doesn’t have anything to teach Han tht he doesn’t already know. There was probably an earlier version of the script that heavily incorporated “race against a rival team” tropes into the heist plot, but it was severely pared down. and by the time the film was put together, it should have be left on the cutting room floor completely. The Imperials represent more than enough threat during the train robbery, and Vos and the Crimson Dawn are enough to drive the rest of the movie. (I’d only keep the train robbery because it contains some of the best camera work in any Star Wars movie, ever.)

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    It struck me as “There’s too muck milk in this milk.” ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  • Bluejay

    So you ARE making an N5 argument: “Why complain a film is X when it’s supposed to be X?”

    Just because a film is intended to be something I don’t like doesn’t mean I have no cause to say I don’t like it.

  • Bluejay

    In yet more plot clunkiness, Nest is there to provide a link to the Rebellion and an opportunity for Han to say “Nah, no thanks,” to contrast with how he joins the Rebellion later on. I agree this was unnecessary — to HAN’S story. It’s telling of how bored I was with his story that I found HER potential story to be more interesting, regardless of how inessential she was to THIS story.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    JFC, man.

    The entire problem with Solo is that it is entirely fan service. There is nothing more to the film, there could never be anything more to the film. There is no other reason to make the movie other than fan service. The amount of fan service is irrelevant at that point. In fact, the argument could be made that, at that point, go big or go home. Throw it all in, Airplane!-style. I’m grateful, since it means there was no thought of trying to save anything for Solo 2.

  • Bluejay

    Execution always matters. Here’s something else I wrote: “I don’t think the story was compelling enough on its own to support all that fan service.” In a better story, I wouldn’t have minded seeing him get his blaster and his dice and his ship and his dog.

    Arguably every movie based on a well-loved property is at its foundation fan service — there’s no point to making one if not to please and tickle the fans. Batman has been a well-loved figure since at least the 60s, certainly since the Burton films, and there was no real need for a Batman Begins movie to show us how he got his mask and his cave and his car and his signal. And yet Nolan fashioned a compelling story to hang all that fan service on.

    So I’ll complain about amount and delivery of fan service as much as I want, thanks.

    And I’ll just reiterate something else I originally said: I’d much rather see new stories about new characters.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I’m not the boss of you, blue.

    Batman Begins was a reasonably fresh take, and refreshing new setting, following Batman and Robin. So, it wasn’t doing the same things Solo is doing as a prequel to a continuing series. Also, I’m not sure it’s holding up well with the passage of time. But I’m not the boss, so your mileage may vary.

    As for wanting new stories, I’ve said as much myself, including in this thread. But I have no interest in seeing anything more about Enfys Nest. And I really don’t need the Star Wars Story series to become the MCU.

  • Bluejay

    I’m not the boss of you, blue.

    That was never in doubt, rocket.

  • Danielm80

    Oh, we’re using our made-up names. Um… I’m Spider-Man, then.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Then what are you so mad at me about?

  • Bluejay

    Mad? I’m not the one dropping JFC’s, rock.

  • “I hate you.”/”I know.”

  • I’m not sure it makes sense to complain about the amount of fan service in a story that serves no other purpose than fan service.

    Can we complain that a movie that almost entirely fan service could have had a more interesting purpose?

  • there could never be anything more to the film.

    What on earth leads you to this conclusion?

  • nothing interesting ever happened to Han Solo, until the day he took a meeting with Ben Kenobi in the cantina at Mos Eisley

    I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. Anyway, as has been said elsewhere (by me and others), this could have been *Ocean’s 11* in space, with no genuine character growth for Han, and been a blast.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Well, yes. But enough about The Phantom Menace

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