Main cast: Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo), Woody Harrelson (Tobias Beckett), Emilia Clarke (Qi’ra), Donald Glover (Lando Calrissian), Thandie Newton (Val Beckett), Jon Favreau (Ron), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (L3-37), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), and Paul Bettany (Dryden Vos)
Director: Ron Howard
Given its well-documented mishandling and troubled history, Solo: A Star Wars Story is probably as best as it could ever be. It’s surprisingly coherent, but then again, given that Ron Howard allegedly re-shot pretty much the entire movie, maybe this isn’t surprising in the sense that it is nearly entirely his movie rather than a Frankenstein’s monster of one. But there is something about this movie that feels perfunctory, as if everyone involved in this just wanted to get the whole thing over and done with ASAP, so that they can finally leave for home while raising a middle finger to Lucasfilm for its meddling.
Or perhaps it feels perfunctory because this movie is pointless. Did anyone ask for this? Han Solo’s best stories had been told. We’d seen him become a reluctant hero who played a role in liberating a galaxy from an evil empire, later a broken man thanks to not disciplining his emo brat of a child enough, and later, a corpse. Everything else about him will feel trivial in comparison, and yet. someone in Lucasfilm is dumb enough to see dollar signs in this bizarre idea that people are clamoring for some inconsequential events in Han Solo’s past.
Still, everything may work if this movie had been a character study, for example, if it shows me how Han Solo can came to be that cynical, self-centered hustler that showed up in Star Wars: A New Hope. But no, the young Han Solo in this one is exactly the same guy that showed up in that movie, only dumbed down further to the point that he feels more like Luke Skywalker in that first movie, but without Leia’s more deadpan humor to counter his more annoying, exaggerated tics and make them feel less annoying to watch. Instead of serving up character development, this one is pure heist drama. In fact, it’s practically a The Fast and The Furious entry with a Star Wars paint, with all the clichés associated with any formulaic heist action flick.
So, we see a young Han Solo who grew up in Corellia, where he’s living an Oliver Twist-like life of having to steal and hustle for the nasty Lady Proxima, who has an army of orphans to commit crimes for her. He and his girlfriend Qi’ra (the apostrophe must be a sign that she is special, I suppose) try to escape the planet, but alas, only he manages to get past the barricade. Qi’ra is caught and he vows to come back for her… somehow. He joins the Imperial Navy, gets expelled from pilot school because he can’t keep his mouth shut, and eventually falls in with Chewbacca and, later, Tobias Backett and his team of thieves and what not. He also reunites with Qi’ra, who is now the top lieutenant of the crime boss Dryden Vos, whom Tobias is working for, and Lando Calrissian. Incidentally, as the co-scriptwriter Jonathan Kasdan is proud of proclaiming, Lando is pansexual now, because he has a thing for his stereotypical social justice hag droid L3-37. Yes, that smuggler wants to get it on with a talking toaster, because we are all woke now.
The whole movie revolves around the Kessel run, a throwaway mention in past movies now fleshed out. I must admit that the whole run is pretty exciting, and the scenery is gorgeous, but everything else about the movie feels so, so pointless and boring.
A big reason is because this movie is so, so predictable. There is nothing here that hasn’t been done in the same manner in many previous movies that has a heist being central to the plot. Even many of the action scenes feel like reenactments, and I’m bored as a result. Also, the characters are all so dull. They are all one-note, and what little relationship development is done in a very shallow, by the numbers way that, when emotional scenes come up, I don’t feel anything at all because this movie is basically a join-the-dots thing.
Alden Ehrenreich is wooden all around, so I can only imagine how bad he must have been before they forced an acting teacher on him after filming was nearly done. Emilia Clarke is not convincing at all as a supposedly kick-ass female character – the way she acts, it’s hard to imagine her as even a rookie thug, much less the second-in-command of a large bunch of thugs. Woody Harrelson plays the same kind of role he always does these days. Donald Glover isn’t amazing – he’s definitely overhyped in the early reviews of this movie – but then again, he’s the only actor who doesn’t feel like sleepwalking here.
But the worst character is L3-37 – this droid is written to act like a grotesque baby of a Twitter shut-in armchair loudmouth and an exaggerated stereotype of an angry black woman. This thing is always dropping meaningless buzzwords like “equal rights” in a most jarring manner. Everything about her breaks immersion and ruins the gravity of every scene she is in. She’s the new Jar Jar Binks, the screeching feminazi version, and for a moment I wondered whether she is written to be a parody of the so-called woke screechy brigade on social media. But no, Jonathan Kasdan loves her in a completely non-ironic manner, so yes, chalk this one up as another racist, stereotypical waste of space written by privileged white men who imagine themselves to be so woke for doing so.
But in the end, it doesn’t matter. Solo: A Star Wars Story never matters. It’s serviceable but at the same time forgettable due to it being so formulaic and bland, and frankly, it also deserves a middle finger for its chronology-breaking twist that, if taken as canon, drives home that Han Solo was at least twenty years older than Leia when they first met. Ugh, I don’t need to know that, so thanks, Kathleen Kennedy and her army of minions at Lucasfilm who treat the Star Wars universe like their personal fanfiction blog. Given how badly this movie is underperforming at the moment, I doubt they will make a sequel, so, like I already said several times, nothing about this movie matters in the end.