Solo: A Star Wars Story ★★★½

I am glad I gave Solo a second chance. I am actually quite relieved, because it turns out I actually liked it quite a bit. It is still not perfect in any way and has its massive tonal problems stemming from all the drama that went behind the scenes, like the clashes between the filmmakers and Disney, vast reshoots and everything else that you learned about this film through exposure to social media. Solo is Justice League of the Star Wars universe: a bit of a mess, but likable one.

And, as it turns out, this film is more likable than I had originally thought. I fully realise its raison d'etre is rooted firmly in fan service. I accept that. I can look past the whole parsec disaster, especially that I can contextualise it much better than all the nerds who had to invent a whole narrative to solve something that could be easily explained by Han Solo's character traits, and just have fun with this film, its set pieces and the chemistry between its main characters that – while severely simplified – holds the story together.

But it ends with that cameo... You know which one. The one that's so inconsequential that it might as well have been cut from the film and you wouldn't even notice. This is what I discovered while rewatching Solo. I was totally onboard with everything, the parsecs, the fan service, the stretchmarks on Paul Bettany's face, until Emilia Clarke reports back to her boss and we see who it is. Arguably, this could have been anybody. A new face. A mysteriously hooded character. Anyone... But by making a decision to include a character so firmly embedded in the lore of the series for no real reason, the filmmakers threw everything this entire experiment was promising to become out the window. This is no longer a series of unrelated stories set on the periphery of the main narrative involving the Skywalker family. This now informs me that what I am to expect is a Marvel-esque cinematic universe with an overarching narrative looming in the background and an idea that every single instalment in the series may now be only an exercise in planting plot threads and tying loose ends with very little time and effort being made to tell an interesting standalone story.

This, frankly, disgusts me. But I decided I will be better than this and admit that Solo is a perfectly serviceable little film that received more backlash than it deserved. Unfortunately, many film-goers will not have it in them to go back and see it again to realise it. This is also where I have to admit that I should have given Ready Player One the same benefit of the doubt. But, sadly, I will only be able to rectify my position once it's released on Blu-Ray.

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