I didn’t hate Solo: A Star Wars Story. Okay, now that you have that, you can leave. Go on, get! I have nothing more to say…
But. I mean. There is some fun stuff in it. There’s also a meaning in why I titled this the “Unnecessary Review”. Now, E_HUFFY, if you are reading this, better skip the majority of this entry in case you want to watch it yourself. But if you got this far, I’ll save you the matinee ticket price: Solo: A Star Wars Story is just that, an unnecessary tale. Unless you’re a huge Star Wars fan. Wait. Scratch that too, if you’re a huge Star Wars fan, this movie is all the beats you would expect out of a Han Solo origin story. By beats I mean, every possible trope associated with Han Solo is basically what you get. Now, should I be mad about that? I’ve got a good/bad feeling about this.
I’m truly not angry about this film, but it plays out like you would expect it to. And that’s why the first hour and a half is completely boring. Let’s recap just a little of what we know about Han Solo and then you’ll catch my drift. Han is a rouge. The very definition of a rouge. In fact, before Han Solo, you could argue that the scoundrel type character was never truly played as well as when Harrison Ford took the reigns. So we know that much. Han is brash, he’s arrogant, he’s really out to serve himself, and through his character arc we find out he has a heart of gold and becomes a pivotal part of those original films. It also helps that you have the acting prowess of Harrison Ford to carry this through.
I say all of this, because anyone familiar with this version of Han Solo knows where he ends up. You know that ultimately, his character needed to experience the ups and downs of this universe to eventually become a jaded, only looks out for himself, type of character. To give you the cliff notes, telling Han Solo’s origin story is unfortunately pretty limiting and pretty boring.
Solo: A Star Wars Han Solo story about Han Solo, is hampered by it’s inability to throw anything at the audience that’s surprising (until the very end of the movie which I’ll detail in the spoiler section of this article). We have all the markers here of stuff we’ve seen and heard of before: The Millennium Falcon, Chewy, Lando Calrissian, Spice mining, the Kessel Run, the origin’s of Han’s last name? That last one was one of the most shoehorned stupid moments that in my theater of six moviegoers, I was the only one that laughed. A laugh, that was facetious.
The very beginning of this movie starts with Han Solo as a slave or something, it isn’t really fully explained what led him to this life. He immediately meets up with his love interest, Qi’Ra, played by the wonderful Emilia Clarke. She’s also a slave to some sort of water bug slug that is also part vampire or something. Also, not exactly explained why light hurts this bug, but who cares at this point. Han and Qi’Ra have plans to escape Corellia and to live a lovey dovey life together on a ship of their own. Corellia is also something that Han indicated only once in the original series, so it had to be in this movie. Han has also managed to swipe some hyperfuel, which ultimately becomes the driving source of problems for everyone involved in this story. Han and Qi’Ra hope to use this hyperfuel to bribe some Empire guards to letting them off the planet. Han ultimately escapes, but Qi’Ra ends up getting grabbed before entering the gate. Han then makes it his goal to somehow rescue Qi’Ra from slavery.
This is also a good point to make, but with Star Wars’ mass appeal, and maybe this is just a personal gripe, but it seems like in even the most remote and distant worlds, even with space ships, no society in this world is immune from slavery. With a story that is marketed to kids so much, you’d think we could get away from such horrible origin stories. Rather, it’s like everyone’s backstory is slavery. Oh well.
After making it through the checkpoint, Han decides to sign up with the Empire to learn how to war and stuff. He truly wants to be a pilot and takes every moment on screen to remind us he is a pilot. Also, Han doesn’t have a last name by this point in the story, or rather doesn’t want to tell an Imperial recruiter what his last name is so…the recruiter makes up Solo as his last name. You hear that nerds?! Yeah, screw your fan theories, a dude in some military garb just threw it out there like it was nothing. It’s probably exactly what came out of some hack screenwriters mouth. Anyways, now that we know the wonderful origins of ‘Solo’ (did we need to know that?!) Han sets off to war and to train in killing some innocent people I guess. I mean, he does work for the Empire, and is shooting into a dusty cloud, so, clearly he is killing the people the Empire is trying to occupy. He definitely is a fish out of water here, and although he is working for the Empire, it isn’t exactly his thing. But, despite this, we get a flash forward part at the beginning of this scene detailing Han has been in training with the Empire for 3 YEARS!
This is another point to make about this movie, but they should have fired the lighting director as soon as they saw any of the footage from this film. The movie is unnecessarily murky, brown, and not lit in the way you would expect a major motion picture to be lit. Many times during the film, I kept thinking “Surely someone thought this looks bad?” but no, it kept up until the last half hour of the film.
Han eventually meets up with Beckett, played by Woody Harrelson, and his band of not so obvious marauders. He desperately wants to leave with Beckett and pleads for him to let him come along for the ride. Beckett then outs Han as a traitor to the Empire, and then Han meets up with Chewy. Han also miraculously knows how to speak to Chewy, even though we have no idea how he knows this and he just met him. I know this scene was meant to come off as funny, and I may have heard a small laugh in the theater, but throughout this film the jokes landed so hard that you could hear a pin drop after each attempt.
Eventually Han and Chewy escape the confines of their prison and then convince Beckett to take them along on a hyperfuel train heist. Yup, you heard that right. In a world ripe with spaceships, they gotta stop a train or something.
This leads me to one of the hardest parts of watching this movie: the foreshadowing. It’s like the people writing this movie had an elementary level understanding of how and why you should foreshadow future events. It was obvious from the couple minutes we had with Beckett and the crew of others (they aren’t important) that this heist was never going to go well. Suffice to say, Val, Beckett’s love interest, ends up blowing herself up in what seemed like a totally avoidable situation. The crew is beat up and bruised and only Beckett, Chewy and Han are left standing.
Beckett continues to foreshadow his horrible outlaw lifestyle in such a heavy handed way that I could only think of this scene from Walk Hard. Basically the equivalent of telling Han, “get outta here Han, you don’t want no part of this SHIT”. Han agrees just like Dewey Cox.
Han, Chewy and Beckett then head off to the real bad dude, Dryden Vos. Dryden’s got some scars that look like someone smeared it all over his face, but he’s a tough dude. He’s literally killing someone the first frame he is on screen so, baddie. It’s at this moment, for me at least, that the movie got painfully boring. It actually feels like this is the moment they fired the original directors and brought Ron Howard in to suss out the damage.
To everyone’s surprise (the audience, the characters, me sitting in my seat) Qi’Ra just shows up on Dryden’s party den ship. Well lookie here! Yeah Han, I don’t need saving, I know Teras Kasi. Remember that turd of a video game? Im also working with Dryden *wink* *wink*. It’s at this point that regardless of how great everyone acted in this movie, the foreshadowing that Qi’Ra is a baddie is so painfully obvious. It wasn’t to do with how she delivered her lines, just the lines themselves. It’s like she’s constantly telling Han in no uncertain terms and by touching that half gold pendant thing on her neck that, “Han, I’m gonna screw you over later”.
Han and Beckett then meet with Dryden and they work out the details to get some more hyperfuel from a spice mine. Here’s the truly funny part: I did not watch this part go down. I do not have a great bladder apparently so I had to take a pee break. I come back, and Han and Qi’Ra have traveled to some other planet to meet up with the elusive Lando Calrissian. I laughed when Qi’Ra stated, he’s cunning and elusive and has “evaded us on several attempts”, but you know, for the purpose of the plot I know exactly where he is.
We then get some impromptu battle bots going on, a seedy and again, poorly lit den of scum and villainy. Shoot even Clint Howard is there for kicks. Han then finds a big table with a bunch of hard to see aliens and at the center of the table is the charismatic, Lando Calrissian, played by Donald Glover. The card game part of this story was actually one of the highlights for me. It wasn’t that I didn’t know what was going to happen but that it was just fun to see these two characters interact for the first time.
It’s also at this point that we meet Lando’s progressive female(?) droid bot, L3-37 who quite possibly is the most unlikable droid this universe has ever seen. Yes, even more so than C3-P0. I say progressive because apparently she wants to have sex with Lando and she is for equal droid rights. Yup. It comes across that Disney and the people creating this character are mocking progressive women, which I can’t tell if that was purposeful or not.
Han eventually gets Lando to let them use the Falcon, and then all agree to set off to some planet where there’s a spice mine to steal some hyperfuel. Again, I didn’t see the setup for this section because I was taking a piss.
The crew then begins to hatch a plan to steal the hyperfuel. Meanwhile, there’s Han Solo, up to his old tricks of forcing a kiss on an unsuspecting female companion. Where is L3-37 when you need her(?). They then arrive at the spice mine and manage to set off a full scale rebellion as they avoid laser blasts to steal the precious hyperfuel.
I laughed at a section during this sequence as Qi’Ra produces two huge hand grenades that she should have used as soon as all the fighting broke out. The size of the explosion was ridiculous. L3-37 gets shot and killed and Lando rushes to her side. This was the most satisfying death in Star Wars to me, simply because L3-37 was annoying and I wanted this character gone. We find out later that her brain will be used with the Millennium Falcon to provide our crew with a path through a maelstrom.
I also hate that nerds love that word, it’s the most overused word in science fiction so I’ll say it again: maelstrom.
Our crew then dips into the equivalent of rough seas, where asteroids and dead ships are abundant. They then manage to escape an Impirial freighter and some tie fighters, and generally speaking this was a really fun sequence to watch. As they attempt to find an shortcut from the Kessel run through this maelstrom, they then encounter a giant multi-eyed space octopus. I can’t make this up. At first I thought this was stupid, then remembered space worms from the original series and gave up being upset.
Han then decides to jettison the escape pod (appeasing nerds to make the Falcon look like it is today) to draw the monsters attention to a gravity thing or whatever they chose to call it. They should have just called it a black hole. Han then tries to get the Falcon out of harms way, but does not have enough power to pull the ship away from this red hole. It’s at this point that Han is like, “hey, grab a drop of that hyperfuel Beckett and throw it in the engine, maybe that’ll work”. The engines then cut out and then miraculously turn back on at the last second, propelling our hero’s out of danger. Han then does that thing he does where he flies through small gaps and they all escape unscathed.
Whew. You know honestly, I wasn’t attempting to tell the whole story but I have to just to provide context to the final scenes in the movie.
Han and crew then set off to some planet where Warwick Davis is, pretty cool he’s still getting Star Wars work. They offload the hyperfuel and then it is revealed that the band of thief’s that attempted to steal the train filled with hyperfuel are actually friends of the Rebellion. They all then go off and agree to some plan to screw over Dryden.
Dryden then shows up in his space party ship, it looks like a Trump tower space ship if I am being honest. We then get a mix of the double and then triple crosses here at the end with Beckett and Qi’Ra. Both Beckett and Qi’Ra basically screw Han just like they have been hinting at the WHOLE MOVIE. Dryden is killed by Qi’Ra and then Han goes and shoots first, because we needed that too I guess, and kills Beckett. Qi’Ra is all like, “Han, you go have fun, I’ll TOTALLY text you later *wink* *wink* *fiddles with gold pendant thing*”. AND FINALLY, we get a real surprise when Qi’Ra teleconferences robo-legged Darth Maul. I heard some fans shriek for this moment, and yes, Darth Maul still looks cool and even had some lines to boot here, but I wasn’t really that surprised.
We end the movie with Qi’Ra taking off on her own ship and Chewy and Han are left to their lonesome. Shoot, even Lando takes off before all this stuff goes down.
So why Darth Maul? I guess when you think about this in the larger realm of what Disney is doing with these movies, it makes sense that they basically copied the Marvel format. “We need to give the fans something to hold onto here, WHY NOT DARTH MAUL!?”. So what we really have going on here is an Obi Wan story to come. Nerds will simply lose their shit as soon as they think of the possibility of Obi Wan getting revenge against Darth Maul for the death of Qui-Gon Jinn. I for one think if you tell a good revenge story, this would be a great one to tell.
That being said, I want to end on what I think is the biggest problem with these spin-off movies. There is an obvious fatigue you can see, starting with this movie. Solo: A Star Wars Story just feels to me like a story that didn’t really need to be fleshed out. Granted, I saw this movie at 11:50 am on a weekday, but we’re at the start of the summer season and only six people were watching the film. Currently, the film has a rating of 62 from Metacritic, and after seeing it, it’s not hard to see why. Diehards will always come out to see these movies, so they will continue to get made. But in the opinion of thepoorassgamer, I’d honestly suggest skipping this film altogether, or waiting for it to arrive on whatever streaming service Disney decides to put it on. To me, Solo is just that, a bad pun in a story that didn’t really need to be told.