Solo: A Star Wars Story ★★

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

This review may contain spoilers.

SOLO is the most aggressively mediocre STAR WARS movie yet, the polar opposite of the challenging and paradigm-shifting LAST JEDI. That's not to say a film like SOLO needs to be challenging or paradigm-shifting; in fact, it's probably best if it isn't. But it needs to be SOMETHING, and it fails tremendously at even that. Is it a heist movie? Kinda, but the heist mainly consists of get in, shoot some folks, get out, which isn't terribly satisfying. Is it a love story? Coulda been, if Han and Qi'ra had had a little more screentime or the least amount of chemistry. Is it about how Han met Chewie and/or Lando? Sure, but even these crucial relationships blast by as if the film is less concerned with exploring them and more concerned with just ticking boxes. It gives us a LITTLE bit of a look at the SW universe beyond what we've already seen, but not much, and it doesn't even give us a ton of insight into the character of Han Solo. Other characters (Val, L-3) are introduced and then disposed of like so much rubbish, and anyone hoping that L-3's "droid rights" character would be used for anything other than comic relief were no doubt sorely disappointed.

And ... okay. Darth Maul. Sure.

What works? The cast, mostly. Ehrenreich is sold as Han, never straying either too far from the character we know, or too close towards mimicry of Harrison Ford. Glover, of course, is likewise great as Lando, though his performance does sometimes wander into mimicry territory. Clarke is fine, as is Harrelson. No one is really given enough to do to judge their performance adequately, is the problem.

There are some gorgeous effects shots, though the camerawork is so jagged and the editing so fast-paced that we're rarely given time to appreciate them. There aren't very many memorable non-effects shots or locations, though. This isn't a particularly good-looking film.

It's fun seeing the interior of the Falcon before Han got his grubby paws on it, though again, we're meant to see this film as the beginning of the love affair between Han and his beloved ship, and the film just doesn't do the work necessary to make us believe it.

It would be easy to blame the film's famously troubled production, but it feels less like a patchwork effort and more like the screenwriters just didn't have a firm grip on what this movie should be. If this film's "disappointing" box office is truly causing Lucasfilm to stop and take stock, good. After this middling nonsense, they need to.