Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story (A Spoiler-Filled Conversation)
Yes, there are spoilers that can spoiled in Solo: A Star Wars Story, so if you haven't seen it and care about the surprises in the movie, turn away now. Otherwise, here is Rockie and Marcelo's spoilery discussion.
Marcelo: It’s another Star Wars movie! In Solo: A Star Wars Story, we learn all about Han Solo’s origins. If you ever wanted to peel back the mystique of your favorite scruffy-looking nerf herder, you’re in luck. Here, we find out how he met Chewy, how he won the Millennium Falcon from Lando, why he shoots first, and so much more. Really, too much. Solo has zero stakes and really shouldn’t exist, but, hell, I had a good time watching it.
Rockie: Solo plays just fine, I just found it kind of pointless to the point of being unnecessary. All the things that make Solo your favorite are explained here and it feels like the magician coming to your house decades after they wowed and saying, “Wanna know how I did it? No? Well, I’m already here so listen up.” It looks and sounds like a Star Wars ride, but the efforts should have been wasted on an original yarn. To the film’s credit, they nail Han and do nothing to tweak or ruin what you are used to. Credit due to Alden Ehrenreich for leaning into Han’s attitude rather than a impression of Harrison’s performance.
MP: The story isn’t 100% there, and the casting for sure makes up for it. Ehrenreich is filled with charisma, Donald Glover’s suave nature captures Lando, and Woody Harrelson is having a ball as Han’s quasi-mentor Tobias Beckett. Emilia Clarke doesn’t shine as bright, mostly because she’s relegated to the love interest role/mob boss’s girlfriend for most the movie, but Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Linda Hunt as a bigass worm, Lady Proxima, offer interesting performances. By now, Kathleen Kennedy and Lucasfilm know to invest time in characters and cast. In terms of true drama, I don’t know. I love The Last Jedi; it’s everything I want in a Star Wars movie. Solo really is the antithesis of that. There’s a thrill in not knowing where exactly your heroes will land, and Solo is not that. We’re in prequel territory, of course we know our main heroes make it out alive. There’s not enough there to really make you care about the outcome, like say Rogue One.
RJ: I think people will love Solo, but in my mind Rogue One is the better film. We know how both film’s outcome, but the intensity and sacrifice of Rogue One cuts deeper than the safe we-already-know-that nature of Solo. Like you mentioned, the performances work and it did give us an incredible performance and a new droid to fall in love with, so there is that. The droids are the heart of Star Wars and L3-37, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is yet another great addition to the legacy of wonderful bots. Her body language and line delivery on “Equal rights?” is rather priceless.
MP: There are some genuine surprises. Darth Maul pops up. I don’t know how anyone who doesn’t follow Star Wars: Rebels will react to his return. I actually had to do some math in my head, “How old is Han, wait, when does this take place, this takes place after he got sliced in half, right?”.
RJ: I’m half and half on the Maul stuff. Cool reveal but did he have to Force Pull his lightsaber to himself during the hologram call and turn it on? It would be like you and I, Facetiming one another, then I pull out a sword make zero mention of it while continuing our sinister conversation, which I imagine would be about pizza. If this will be a trilogy, Maul is going to be an odd edition to the Solo Saga. Thankfully his run on Rebels is the stuff of legends.
MP: The fact that they’re already setting up sequels is the biggest mark against Solo for me. I have my problems with Rogue One (it’s mostly Tarkin) but we can for sure say that was a one-and-done deal. I can’t say I’m that interested in seeing Solo 2. This film is a gangster film mixed with a space adventure and a heist movie, and when it’s not spoiling the magician’s illusions, it’s a nice substance-free thrill ride and nothing more. I don’t feel like they can pull the same thing off twice without it getting repetitive. And any real surprises, like we mentioned before, will come from classic character cameos, and you can only go to that well so many times.
RJ: I’m not 100% down on Solo, I’m just not blown away with Chapter 1 of Han’s Origin. Maybe after all the obvious stuff is out of the way we can get to a full tilt adventure without Last Crusade-intro levels of explaining the magic. Solo has solid creature and vehicle design from top to bottom make no mistake about that. ILM is once again having a field day with their greatest property. If they lowkey make the second film about Chewie, I’d be a happy camper. We failed to mention how weird Paul Bettany is in this film with his rage fueled villain that gets bloodshot eyes when he is angry. He really chews it up but is ultimately dispatched of course, so I guess I know why we didn’t bring him up now. Solo is weird film, man.
MP: A Star Wars movie made up of some cool moments that evaporate quick, yup, that sums it up.