When I saw the first trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story, I was not thrilled for the movie. I didn’t really care for a movie focused on Han Solo, and I didn’t care for a non-numbered Star Wars movie. If you can’t tell, I’m not much of a fan of Star Wars. The extent of my love comes from playing the PS2/ GameCube Lego Star Wars games and liking lightsabers, because I like swords. The only reason I agreed to watch the movie with friends was because Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino aka my roommates’ husband (yes he shares them) aka most of what I aspire to be plays Lando. And before I actually review this movie, let’s have a quick PSA.
3D movies will never be worth it. 3D movies are actually a terrible idea. When we watched Solo it was in 3D, and just to capture how awful 3D is, we watched this movie a day before it’s official release and the theater we were in had about twenty people, because no one wants to watch 3D. I understand from a certain aspect that it can be cool. It adds true depth to the screen and can enhance the film in awesome ways, but there are massive cons to this movie viewing experience. A) People who wear glasses are genuinely screwed. Either you have have to take off your glasses and be blind to experience the 3D. Or you have to be a weirdo and wear two pairs of glasses and that sometimes’ll get blurry because you have two different lenses on your face. B) 3D hurts your eyes. Watching a movie should not hurt you on a retina level. It’s cool in spurts, y’all–not for two-three hour durations. C) Sometimes the 3D breaks and the whole theater, of twenty or so people, let out an audible groan, because how does that happen? D) No one ever knows where to get the 3D glasses. So yeah. Until we, as a people, can more efficiently implement 3D technology, let’s just cancel it or use it in quick spurts. We could turn off the 3D on 3DS’ for a reason.
Anyways in regards to this movie. For a quick one line review: This movie wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be and I was at times entertained. Now on a more in depth level: it was a movie with quite a few flaws both on execution and story writing. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
This movie has quite a few positives and those are the characters. Alden Ehrenreich makes for a good Han and actually does a great job at conveying more emotions than sarcasm and smirks. While I, at no time, was convinced that he was Harrison Ford, it was enjoyable watching him play as Han. He actually captured what a young Han would feel like before becoming a grouchy slightly older Han. Emilia Clarke does a good job playing a character the writers, it felt like, had no idea what to do with, but more on that later. Woody Harrelson is Woody Harrelson, so he was great. I love that man. Donald playing Lando was great. He was suave. He was entertaining. But also as a fan of Donald, you can tell when he stops being Lando and he’s just Donald in a Star Wars movie if you get what I mean. It’s like when you’re watching Will Smith in a movie and you kind of just go, Oh. He’s just being Will Smith in this scene (see: Suicide Squad or Wild Wild West). Lastly, Phoebe Waller-Bridge (everyone should watch her series Crashing, not to be confused with Peter Holmes’ Crashing.) as L3-37 continues the trend of droids being some of the best characters in the Star Wars franchise. This movie has a wonderful cast and their interactions really lift the movie. The problems come in the investment in the characters, the narrative itself, and some delivery problems.
This movie gears itself as a comedy/ action film which feels like the current Disney owned franchise brand. Quips with your action. Disney owned franchises. Coming to several theaters near you whether the theaters want it or not. So there’s quite a few moments where the film is designed to cater a humorous moment. And the problem is that with these moments that go: “funny” moment→characters react, is that the moments aren’t always funny. They sometimes fall flat. And then when we’re shown other characters reacting to said “funny” moment it doesn’t feel organic. It feels very much like the writers, the director maybe even, winking at the audience. And sometimes that took me out of the movie or it just generally felt like bad writing moments. Movies, unless they are genuinely funny, shouldn’t have scenes dedicated to saying, Hey. We’re funny. Laugh at this. Just be funny. Also the dialogue was clunky at times and that’s forgivable.
While I said that the characters were what lifted the film, they were a problematic feature for it. And it lies outside of the main cast. It’s the side characters. There are moments where the side characters carry a lot of weight for the central narrative and that’s really cool. Unfortunately, we’re never given enough time with these gamechanging characters, so when plot specific moments happen to them, the audience, me and my friends and the other fourteen or so people, were largely un-invested. Which was a bummer. A character’s death or their achievement should carry something for the narrative but because of not enough screen time or character development we were left with moments where we kind of just said, okay. And that’s problematic.
Then there was the narrative. And this will be had to explain, because I can’t really explain it, unless I talk about manga/ anime, which sorry I’m about to do this. It’s just that as I watched the narrative expand upon itself for this prequel, I could tell this was a prequel thought of after the success of not only the original trilogy, but also the current movies. And there’s a difference between having your subsidiary facts and plot points in mind when planning a franchise than when you make a prequel on the fly and try to connect threads. Take Eiichiro Oda aka The Goat aka the creator of One Piece (a great manga/ anime series that I really need to highlight more) as an example. When he thinks of story lines it’s a mess. His studio is a mess filled with plot points upon plot points which he can use or not use till necessary. And it feels like when certain plot points come up, it’s more organic rather than just pulling them out of thin air to make sense of things. It feels like he’s actually got his narrative threads plotted out. This film though…it feels like writers are just connecting threads and making things up as they go, giving you Easter eggs in exchange for thought out plot, if you get what I mean. You get a lot of, “aha” moments where you can connect this prequel to the original trilogy, but it feels more like they it was made on the spot after the success of the movies. If I can make better sense of what I’m trying to explain, um…for short stories there’s the iceberg theory/ technique in which what you get in a short story is just the tip of the iceberg, but we still have to make up this vast amount of information that is the larger body of iceberg under the water. You have both of these parts whilst making your story, but for this prequel it seems like when making the original trilogy, only the tip was thought of. The underwater section was never plotted out and writers for this prequel just had to make sense of things based off the tip they were given. I’m not saying that that’s bad, it’s just that the narrative didn’t seem organic. It was too convenient. Another flaw I had with the movie, now that I’ve had time to think about it is the end of the movie. It just became a Wild West show where characters actively betrayed each other as if the writers didn’t know how to end the story. It at times felt like it couldn’t, shouldn’t, have made sense.
But even with those flaws that movie viewers may pick up on, this film was still an entertaining time. It was a movie that gave a different take on a character I knew. It was fun. And it caught the essence of Han Solo. He’s a character who wants to be an outlaw, but is a good guy at heart. And this film helps me appreciate the character even more, which character focused stories should do in the first place. So go and watch the movie. If you’re a fan you’ll have fun. And if you’re a super fan, you’ll blow your load during a scene, maybe even yell, “Holy shit!”, just as my friend did. I leave you with Donald Glover. Later days.