Watson Reviews: Solo: A Star Wars Story (Spoiler Free)

I am a lifelong Star Wars fan.  Some of the earliest memories of my life are swirling around an empty wrapping paper roll; pretending it was a lightsaber.

When Disney bought Lucasfilm, I was optimistic that my iconic franchise would be well managed.  Who better to protect the venerable franchise than the House of Mouse.  But after The Last Jedi disappointed me a great deal, I didn’t feel a prequel that my favorite person in the world says “no one asked for” could get us back on track.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

The prequel no one asked for is the origin story of Han Solo, a character made a cinematic icon by Harrison Ford (NOT Solo: A Star Wars Story), who is one of the all-time great film stars. This Star Wars story however features…um….Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar) , who is not…and will never be great at anything; including macrame.  The saga begins on Corellia, Han’s homeworld, where his ruffian upbringing has made him a part of a stratified society where the only way to survive is to join a crime syndicate.

Han longs for freedom and works to get off world with his love, Qi-ra, played by Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones).  As an aside, I once said of Clarke’s performance in Game of Thrones, “I’m not sure Emilia Clarke is that good of an actress.  I’m very aware she’s acting when I watch her scenes.  She’s more Star Trek than Harry Potter.

The pair get separated, and Han bumbles his way around the universe and makes the connections that would later become iconic when Harrison Ford effortlessly charmed audiences.

Meet Chewie?  Check.  Meet Lando? Check.  Board the Millennium Falcon?  Check.  Make a historic Kessel run?  Check.

Solo hits all the strokes you’d expect, but there is absolutely nothing more to it.  Nothing…

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

Normally, I start with what I liked, but there isn’t much, so let’s reverse things.

  • One of the most charismatic actors ever is replaced with a wooden fence post. Oh my god he was bad.  I mean like REALLY bad.  Look, forget the comparisons to Harrison.  If you had never seen a Star Wars movie, and this was Han Solo’s first appearance, Ehrenreich would still be worse that slamming your balls in a rusty car door.  With a terrible actor playing Han Solo, you can’t have a good movie called Solo. It’s like a James Bond movie where Bond is played by Screech from Saved By the Bell.
  • The film felt as unnecessary as you expected.  It really just existed to introduce the elements we all know into the Star Wars universe.  Nothing more.  It felt like a bad episode of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles…
  • It felt very similar to Episode I. There was a vibe to this film that made you feel that at any moment, Ehrenreich was going to say “Meesa, Han Solo-sir!”  It was just always present…
  • The story was a caper but the plot really only acted as a vehicle to engage in “fan service” The elements introduced were very clunky and it almost felt like bad fanfic.  It was so overt and heavy handed, that you didn’t care about the plot.  It was like a bad porno plot where they might try to inject some story, but it is really about injecting other things…

WHAT WORKED:

  • Donald Effing Glover is a star! They should have just made a Lando movie.  He was great and stole every second of screen time.  When he isn’t talking, you are thinking, “I wish Ehrenreich  would shut up so Lando can talk again.”
  • The settings and effects were well done. FX cannot make a movie for me, but I appreciated their subtly here.  The effects were not over the top, but rather were very effectively used.
  • There was one funny fan service “F-You” that made me chuckle.  No spoilers, but one of the fan gags got to me.   It was a’ight!

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Oh, boy!  Star Wars is in trouble.  Two movies in a row which are utter stinkers.  Episode 8 was in my bottom ten last year and Solo will vie for one of the bottom spots this year.

We have to get away from the Skywalker era and get some new characters and stories that can stand on their own or Star Wars will go the way of Star Trek; capable of nice moments, but a less than special enterprise…

Overall, I give SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY 3 “Episode I’s” out of 10.

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