Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

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Are you ready for my most deviant, hottest take on Letterboxd?

It is my opinion that, despite belonging to an era when the "Star Wars" brand got reduced to bantha poodoo, SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY shone forth in 2018 as not only the franchise's best film, but also one of the year's best. For example, it features a finer interpretation of the title character, by Alden Ehrenreich, than Harrison Ford ever devised. As Letterboxd user secondzeit summarized perfectly at the time, Ehrenreich's portrayal conveys "a sullen arrogance that masks some deeper hurt, all traces of which were missing from Ford's canonical (what a word to use) version." Its art direction and score are recognizably "Star Wars" yet innovative, too.

Primarily, I appreciate SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY as the purest morality tale--plus tragic romance--in the whole multigenerational series. That elevates it from a pew-pew actioner to something quite special. It shows how two young lovers with identical origins, like Han and Qi'ra, may end up having very different levels of integrity and honor due to their subsequent life choices (a disparity which sadly eliminates any hope of permanent romance). Yeah, Han is a "rogue" who "shoots first" and whatnot, but only Qi'ra goes so far as to sell her soul to the devil. Almost literally ... with the devil cinematically rendered, of course, as Darth Maul. This movie's diabolic use of Maul was the first prominent justification of that flat character, nineteen years after we'd met him.

A point was expressly made at the end of SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY that Han isn't truly a bad guy; the entire story had proved it, and the contrasting final reveal of Maul, including Qi'ra's bond with the Dathomirian, drove the point home. Surely that was the most thematically meaningful "Star Wars" reveal since the one in THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. I shed a tear, imagining the dark fate lying in store for Qi'ra. How could any viewer not feel similarly moved by her tragedy? Furthermore, now we really understand why our hero and his "Star Wars Story" are called Solo: not because an Imperial recruiter finds him alone, but because his partner abandons him and his upright values. Ah well, at least he still has the galaxy's coolest, loyal "dog," Chewbacca, to keep him in good spirits.

Creator George Lucas's far-far-away galaxy is always a rich, affecting backdrop. Unfortunately, it hadn't been paired with an equally rich screenplay for many decades. If ever! But now we finally have SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, the only "Star Wars" film with minimal plot holes, negligible inconsistencies, and no faulty logic in characters' thought processes (evidence for this claim can be found on IMDb and other resources). Conversely, all the other non-classic "Star Wars" movies are so bad in those areas that Mister Plinkett, to name one infamous pseudo-reviewer, has skewered them with ease.

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY is the only "Star Wars" installment that feels polished, not slipshod, when it comes to both theme and storytelling details. Perhaps because screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, director Ron Howard, and Howard's collaborators were, at last, highly experienced and mature at the time of its production. Likewise, I commend them for having overcome major filming travails which were reported in the press. Moreover, as I see it, their Easter eggs and continuity nods, which critics bemoan, aren't useless fan-service. Rather, those are what Kasdan et al. believed they had to offer to get fanboys/fangirls to pay extra attention to a "Star Wars Story" with a stronger moral than the average "Star Wars" story.

POSTSCRIPT -- In case you're wondering, I give two stars to the overall "Star Wars" saga--the ten parts I've seen up to, and including, SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY. The mythos just kind of shambles along, like a bantha.