Solo: A Star Wars Story ★★½

Solo: A Star Wars Story is not a great movie. Not even a good one. But still the best the franchise coughed up since Return of the Jedi. The reason is pretty simple: it's more or less a stand-alone tale that's not trying to court the grand Jedi-Sith myth of the series and is free from any Skywalker characters.

Which doesn't mean there's no fanservice, it's here, everywhere. Collecting every little bit of information spewed out about Han this is essentially an origin story for a character that needed no origin story. Ironically enough the movie itself doesn't really go into detail about all those little tidbits the original trilogy dropped. There's no big backstory of Han and Chewie meeting up and becoming attached for decades. It's not even clear what ultimately bonded the Wookie to Han. Their prison escape or the train heist save?

I never heard of anyone wondering why Han Solo's name was what it was. But the side gag about it's origin probably is simply there to emphazise the place the character has in this universe (or galaxy, to be more accurate). Generally, simply stating that Han did the/a Kessel Run in under 12 Parsecs and won the Millennium Falcon from Lando in a game of Sabacc was enough. If you want to show it though, make it a real scene and less a "post-credit" kind of moment. Like that game of poker in Casino Royale for example.

So I never cared about Han's dice, why his last name is "Solo", how he actually met Chewie, did the Kessel Run, got his blaster, won the Falcon. Naturally the movie shows all of that which usually are the worst scenes about it. Outside of all this franchise referencing the story is rather neat in its simplicity. Han wants to get a ship to save his old girlfriend, gets caught up with Chewie and Tobias Beckett, helps the latter with a job to get him the money for his purchase. The job goes wrong and all the characters have to do another job to save their skin. Which makes Solo more or less a heist film, even though the heists themselves aren't very slick (basically the characters just drop in and take what they want while chaos ensues during their getaway).

This film would probably have been better if Han already had the Falcon with Chewie in the beginning, running into Lando again during one of his jobs for Jabba or some other gangster. There would've been a place for the Qi'ra character as well, simply mentioning their backstory in passing instead of having to go through a terribly lighted first act (the movie is so dim I don't even want to imagine how dark it must be in the 3D version). Just have the characters do a heist, that's not too much to ask for. Why waste time on lightsabers, cameos and the attempted explanation of unneeded information?

Maybe they can do this with the Boba Fett movie, since we already had to watch the character's origin story in Attack of the Clones. Just a simple story in this world without all the anchors from the franchise dragging it down. "There's a lesson to be learned here", says Tobias Beckett in one scene during Solo - hopefully Lucasfilm paid attention.