Solo: An in-depth review
I'm back after a couple months of not posting anything here, and I think this should quite make up for it.
The movie no one asked for, or wanted, and that Disney knew would suck, came out. It sucked. Fans are heartbroken again. The Last Jedi ruined Luke Skywalker; Solo ruined Han Solo. I guess it’s good Carrie Fisher died before they can ruin Leia, too (Which I am appalled for even thinking, but here we are...) Here is an in-depth review of this abortion of a film. I promise I do have legitimate praises in this review!
And before you complain about me calling this film an “abortion”, let me explain. This movie was ill-conceived, underdeveloped, unwanted by everyone, and cut off after being 90% ready to go. Then it was forced to completion and released unfinished.
It should be noted that at the midnight premier, there were 19 people, one kid fell asleep, no one laughed, and the movie broke down (during the Kessel Run, for the record). The only applaud was the one I gave when a character died, which we’ll get to. Then leaving the premier, me and my brother were wearing star wars t-shirts and our heads were down as we walked to the car, like Charlie Brown. But we couldn’t help but notice that everywhere we turned, we saw pairs of guys in Star Wars T-shirts with their heads down in disappointment.
This is a long one, so here we go!
1) The first ten minutes.
The first ten minutes was the beginning of a long, cruel trail of tears, but I need to break this down even further because every moment added on to putting me off.
It opens with 6 lines. Essentially, it is a lawless world, there’s a ruthless person named “Lady Proxima”, and the precious resource/macguffin is “Hyperfuel”. First, it’s not lawless, unless you’re on a planet not controlled by the Empire. Second, “Lady Proxima” was introduced and done with in one scene, and now we have another movie with a fuel-based plot.
Star Wars ships have always run on magic, not fuel! No Star Wars ship has a fuel tank. There aren’t any fuel trucks dropping off fuel to every corner of the galaxy. The same universal fuel source, with never-before-seen gas stations are everywhere, and ships of all makes and sizes use the same fuel?
As far as I know, Star Wars ships never had fuel tanks in LEGO sets, video games, cross-sections, or any movie or comic except for one throw- away line in Revenge of the Sith, where Obi-Wan pretended to refuel his ship to infiltrate Utapau and confront General Grievous.
Here is a cross sections of the Falcon. There is NO gas tank, and there already ARE escape pods.
The Last Jedi’s fuel plot makes zero sense, especially when Finn and Rose jump to lightspeed in a little ship to a planet across the galaxy, yet the resistance don’t have fuel to jump a bunch of smaller ships to all different parts and then rendezvous to a new destination?
But I digress…
The movie does not open in space. The first shot is wrong. Later, the title is flashy and superimposed onto the city, which breaks tradition, but more importantly looks really cheap.
The first scene is a bunch of urchins talking about how they stole things and are anticipating receiving “portions” from Lady Proxima. Unkar Plutt’s “portions” were a combination of dirt-cheap “ready-to-eat” meals, and military rations scavenged off of crashed ships. I imagined that a planet like Jakku used those in abundance because it’s a barren planet and would need those in case of serious droughts. But I guess, “Portions” are just univesral things now.
Ever since the trailers I was worried that the film would lack color. Not people of color; I mean actual color in the shots. You’ll be happy to know that in addition to the lovely all-brown or all-grey scenes, there are all-blue, all red, and all-black shots, too. The entire movie had the feeling of the camera stand being made of dry ice, because the ENTIRE FILM WAS SMOKEY. I get in the slums, or the gas mines, but they were on a beach, on a snowy mountain, in space...etc.
Next is Han Solo. We’ll get to the acting later. I just wanted point out that now it’s confirmed he’s an orphan. God forbid a protagonist has live parents, right Disney?
The movie opens and Han and his “main squeeze”, named “Qi’ra”, are making out. I never took Han Solo for the commitment type, and I didn’t think she was a serious love interest at first. I always imagined Leia was the one who sweet-talked the sweet-talker; the one whom he fell for like no one else. It forced him to suddenly join the Rebellion, and care about others. But, I guess not.
Then, Han confronts Lady Proxima, who is a horrible CG giant sea-centipede. He pretends he has a “thermal detonator”. This scene was a cheap reference and Marvel-humor-ey gag and it didn’t fit, sucked, and how “sunlight” was exposed through a window, during what I could’ve sworn was nighttime, made no sense.
Then we get a chase. It was boring, foggy, and grey. Han puts his “lucky dice” over his ship and now we can talk about these stupid dice. First off, in Star Wars, “Dice” are called “Chance Cubes”! Second, This movie and The Last Jedi make these dice the most important thing in the whole saga out of nowhere. Third, you can’t use dice that are chained together, they won’t roll, so, how could Han use them to win the Falcon from Lando, if he already drilled holes in them to attach a chain. Fourth, as we will see later in the film, dice are not used in Han and Lando’s game(s) of Sabaac! Fifth and most importantly, the dice are Han’s memento of Qi’ra meaning that when Luke gave Leia those holographic dice in The Last Jedi, that’s retroactively made awful, since Luke gives Leia one last reminder that she was Han’s second choice. (After the Luke and Leia kiss being retroactively gross, poor Leia and her love life, am I right?).
We’re almost done here.
The boring chase leads to a very interesting and good scene, and that is the ghetto-like security gate Han and Qi’ra have to bribe their way through. It was suspenseful and compelling. It added to the world building of Star Wars. Han and Qi’ra get separated: Han gets out, Qi’ra does not.
Then Han applies to the Empire, and the lines are as follows:
“What’s your name?”
“What’s you’re family name?”
“I don’t have one. I’m a loner. I’m alone.”
So that’s where Han Solo gets his name. I thought his name was just Han Solo, like how Luke’s name was “Skywalker”. I guess all those wacky names get origins now, right? Biggs Darklighter’s dad was a flashlight. Leia Organa was a vegan. Mace Windu died by falling out a... window... Wait a minute...
But I digress. It was a stupid throw-away line and I hope it was worth it.
Oh! I almost forgot! Han sees Empire propaganda. The propaganda is a crackley hologram announcement over John Williams’ Imperial March. That’s right. In universe, The Empire stole John William’s Imperial March and used it for themselves.
That is all the first ten or so minutes. Two hours to go…
2) Three years Later
The movie then jumps THREE YEARS LATER! If the movie started here, I wouldn’t have had such a rotten taste in my mouth and probably would’ve liked the movie a whole lot more. I’m not kidding, that’s how awful and unnecessary the first ten minutes were.
Especially because the next scene is great! Han Solo is dropped into the middle of the battlefield. There are trenches, limbless people, smoke everywhere (finally in a good way), ABSOLUTE CHAOS. The Han just goes, “What are we doing here?” he does not care, and his superiors hate him not walking into the meat-grinder with everyone else. Then he sees a gunslinger and follows that guy because he seems to be doing a pretty good job at not dying.
That guy is Tobias Beckett, and with him is Thandie Newton, who was made unattractive just for this movie, and a four-armed monkey man whose CG wasn’t finished yet, and his voice did not match his face. Han thought something was up when the monkey-man lifted his pants up, in a manner calling back to Dexter Jettster and his plumber’s butt. He wants to join the disguised stormtroopers in ditching the war, but they say no.
Han is then fed to a “monster”. This monster had been fed other deserters and Han sees just their remains in the pit. This monster is Chewbacca. Chewbacca has eaten people. Chewbacca has eaten people. CHEWBACCA HAS EATEN PEOPLE!!!
Then Han gurgles in terror and Chewbacca’s rabid eyes go normal. Then we see subtitles for wookie. We never got or needed subtitles for wookie, nor do we get subtitles for wookie anywhere else in the movie. Remember in Infinity War when Thor spoke Groot because “he took it as an elective”, and that was a meaningless gag? Well, so did Han, I guess. There was no reason to have Han gurgle, since Chewbacca already knew Basic (English) you don’t see Luke beeping at R2-D2.
Other than the horribly-contrived way of them first communicating, the relationship with Han and Chewie was surprisingly really good and felt very in-spirit to what we know of their relationship for decades to come. We’ll cover more of that later. Anyways, the crew sees Han and a wookie escaped and pick them up and leave for the train heist.
3) The train heist
The train heist sequence was overall pretty fun. After all, a space western needs space outlaws to rob a space train. However, there were some unpleasant parts to it, but nothing too bad.
The night before, the crew is huddled around a campfire. The monkey man is pretty likeable and seems like this movie’s K-2SO. Then, Beckett and Thandie Newton’s character have a long, drawn out kiss and it’s really awkward. Beckett then breaks off a convertible rifle and tosses it to Han. I guess this is Han’s iconic blaster. (It should be noted that Han was not tossed a holster).
The train heist went as follows: the characters whom I’ve mentioned but not provided names to, die. Chewie almost gets decapitated by a rock, but since everyone knows he lives, no one cares. There are a few stormtroopers, but none of them wore a conductor's hat.
But as space westerns go, space Injins rob the space train, too. The leader’s name is Enfys Nest. Enfys Nest is a big and tough marauder with a large mask. To nobody’s surprise, it’s later revealed that she’s a young girl. Enfys Nest is a badass, and my favorite part of the movie. She is very skilled, and her weapon is the same as the repulsor staff one of the bad guys used in Infinity War. Her music was the standout of the entire score, and she does other interesting stuff later on. But for now, they try to steal the cargo from Beckett’s crew, but then it falls into a mountain and makes a cool explosion.
4) The main plot starts
Having failed, Beckett, Han, and Chewie go to meet with the guy who hired them, Dryden Vos. Dryden Vos is the scar-faced boss, and the train heist loss has made the man quite cross. His secretary, or “first mate”, or “main squeeze”... whatever you wanna call her is Qi’ra. The screenwriters work in mysterious ways indeed. Han convinces Vos that he can get more of the macguffin fuel from Kessel and Voss makes Qi’ra go with. Qi’ra takes them to a smuggler who has done that kind of thing before. That smuggler is Lando.
People will rave that Donald Glover steals the show as Lando. I mean, yeah… I never loved Lando, but I never had to remind myself that the guy on screen was Lando. Lando in Solo was just how I would’ve imagined Lando would be in that time of his life. That is, except for one itty bitty part, which we’ll get to momentarily. Right now, I’m praising things.
Han challenges Lando to a game of space poker, infamously known as “Sabaac”. As movie poker matches tend to go, the real game was between the two sweet-talkers feeling each other out. Han goads Lando into waging a ship and Lando talks his way onto the heist.
As far as unnecessary origins go, Han winning the Falcon is the second worst thing to mess up showing (The first, of course being Bible stories). The Sabaac game was dealt with in the best way possible a movie could have done. Han won “fair and square”, but Lando cheated and publicly won. Both of them knew Han actually won, but Lando would never admit it, because of his pride. PERFECT!
Then they ruin it. At the very end of the movie, Han finds Lando in a tiki hut, stole his cheating cards and beat him fair and square. He even says the line, “I beat you fair and square”. God forbid our heroes aren’t clear-cut goodie-goodies, right Disney?
But I digress…
Lando and his main squeeze, a droid named “L3-37” (or “L3”) join them on the mission, requiring them make the “Kessel Run”. I always thought the “Kessel Run” was like a short cut but it was super dangerous. Maybe it was in between two major hyperspace lanes. Or like, it’s an asteroid field and people normally go around it because we all know the odds of surviving an asteroid field. But I guess it’s some kind of smuggling route with space gravity toilets or something. Fine. I’m okay with that. Me and my brother joked that they would make the “Kessel Run” a “three-legged race” or something stupid, and at least it wasn’t that. (Though Han and Chewie were chained together twice.)
Han says, “I bet your ship is a piece of junk”, and then we see the Millennium Falcon. I always thought the new design looked dumb. The thing in the gap is an escape pod, I guess, even though I thought the gap was where freight gets plugged in; not to mention the Falcon’s escape pod was always in a different location, i.e. in The Last Jedi.
On the Falcon, Beckett plays Chewie in that holo-chess game. Later, Han and Qi’ra start making out and Beckett interrupts. Then they go to Kessel and infiltrate the mine to get some mcguffin fuel gas. Beckett disguises himself in Lando’s Jabba’s Palace disguise, if the other two forced-contrivances didn’t reek enough of desperation. Also, Chewie rips a guy’s arms out of his sockets.
L3 causes a riot and Chewie sees other wookies being tortured. Chewie goes off to save them and Han let’s him go. Chewie kicks ass and the wookie he saved looks like a monkey mask from Tim Burton’s “Planet of the Apes”. Chewie returns because he has his own path and L3 gets shot, they escape and do the Kessel Run. Speaking of L3, let’s do that.
5) L3: the SJW robot
L3 is a “self-made droid” who don’t need no human to tell her what to do. She has child-bearing hips and a sassy black woman attitude. (I just looked it up and the actress is NOT black.) At one point, she needs to use her flip-out spanner arm to unlock a gate or something. It was always a silly gag that R2-D2’s is his penis, because of its location and its extension. When Rogue One used a more humanoid droid, they made the spanner arm fold out of his hand. L3, however, tells everyone “not to look. I can’t perform if you guys are looking.” so I guess it’s confirmed that it’s her penis, and by extension (pun acknowledged), R2’s is his penis, too. It was a fun gag and now it’s realized to where it’ll be awkward to watch scenes like that from now on.
The next thing I need to address is L3’s relationship to Lando. Lando is in love with L3. In fact, they made love, if you paid attention to Lando’s memoir. Qi’ra asks, “how does that even work?”, to which L3 replies, “It works.” I have two huge gripes about this. First, I do not like how instead of making a new character an LGBT-whatever character, they just retrofit an already beloved character and slap on a “___sexual label to him”.
Many fans, including myself do not like this. What if all of a sudden I made a prequel to Frozen and made Elsa a Lesbian and Anna a non-binary? Orin Avengers 4, Captain America is gay for no reason. And in Toy Story 4, Buzz Light-year is suddenly in love with the Piggy Bank! Oh, now we care about beloved characters getting tainted by retrofitted gender labels!? Sorry Disney, but I guess half-hearted pandering is better than good decisions.
My bigger problem is not that Lando has sex with robots, which, face it, is sooner or later going to be a reality, but that Lando was IN LOVE with a robot. You mean to tell me that Lando, the penultimate definition of the term “player”, who sweet talks every female he sees, is in love, not only to a robot who does not like him back, but a being INCAPABLE OF LOVE!? This man is like Captain Kirk, or James bond. He’s a “ladies’ man” who never EVER showed any signs of any kind of attachment to ANYTHING. He’s a swindler, a backstabber, and a guy willing to frivolously wager his “favorite ship”. His motivations were clear: stay on top. But God forbid we get protagonists with iffy motivations, right Disney?
Back to L3. L3 is a Social Justice Warrior...for droids. She wants to liberate all droids from their masters. And it’s not a malfunction in her programming like other droids we’ve seen who hate being “enslaved”. No, L3 starts a robot revolution. She screams in the middle of the poker game to a couple of battle bots that they have rights “they don’t even serve you’re kind”.
In the history of Star Wars, droids have ALWAYS been programmed to obey their masters. They’re only motivation is to obey their master and to stay alive. What would a droid even want if they were served? What would a droid do if it didn’t have a master to serve? Nothing! In fact, the first droid L3 frees essentially asks, “Now what?” and L3 responds, “I don’t know…” Droids never sought independence; R2-D2 and C-3PO were always indifferent to watching other droids get tortured or destroyed.
I always saw Holdo in The Last Jedi as a horribly written and unnecessary character, not a political pawn inserted by Kathleen Kennedy (and Disney) to serve an “SJW agenda”. L3’s SJW agenda is forced so far down our throats and done with such little grace or subtlety, that as soon as I left the theaters, I screamed in the parking lot, “WHY ARE THERE SJW DROIDS IN STAR WARS!?” Why is there SJW issues in Star Wars!? Huh!? In Rebels, Kannan and Hera were together, and no one cared that a human is with a twi’lek. Doctor Aphra is a lesbian, and no one has a problem with that. Aphra is a new, badass character and happens to be a lesbian.
EVERYONE TAKE NOTE: IF YOU MAKE A CHARACTER’S GENDER OR SEXUALITY THE BASIS OF THEIR CHARACTER, THEN THEY ARE HORRIBLE CHARACTERS WHO SHOULD NEVER EXIST!
But I digress…
I was furious every time L3 was present. I applauded when she was shot and was glad that not only did she die, but her torso was ripped apart from her body, then, she was decapitated, and finally her brain chip thingy was removed from her head.
6) The “Kessel Run”
The Kessel run was a by-the-numbers chase scene, were a Star Destroyer deploys like 6 TIE Fighters to capture the Falcon. Han takes the wheel with Qi’ra as his co-pilot. Then, Chewie speaks up and relieves Qi’ra of her position. Hand does a flashy maneuver and bashes a TIE into an asteroid. He also skids the ship on an asteroid to fling debris into other TIEs. Beckett takes the turret and blows one up. Our crew sighs with relief only to encounter a giant space tentacle monster. WHY IS DISNEY OBSESSED WITH ADDING TENTACLE MONSTERS IN THEIR STAR WARS MOVIES!? It has the Falcon in its grasp as the Falcon heads into the space toilet drain.
Then the movie blacked out. At first, it was just the screen, but the scene was so black anyways that I couldn’t tell at first. Then the audio cut out. The room had the feel of everyone taking a breather, in the same way they let you take a breather between sections of the ACT, or waterboarding, (though, the ACT is much worse!).
The movie resumed and in order to escape being flushed down the space toilet, Han ejects the escape pod. Also, it sucks up the outer plating of the ship so that it looks like how we all know it to look like. Also it sucks away the radar dish, because they really needed that “forced reference” meter to make it to the triple digits.
On a side note, remember when people flipped out about Rey expertly piloting the Falcon without any training in non-speeder piloting? Well, so did Han. Rey could magically speak droid and wookie? So did Han. Rey never went into hyperspace or left her “home planet”? So did Han. But at least Rey didn’t gurgle at Chewie, and marveled at at least one new locale.
The last scene of the Kessel Run was where Beckett feeds a drop of mcguffin fuel into the Hyper-drive thingamajig and we see it move the engine and follow it through the exhaust. The shot was really bad and out of place, and came straight out of a Fast and Furious movie.
They make the jump to wherever they were headed and Han goes, “I just made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs”. Then Chewie growls and Han says, “Not if you round down.” Okay. I don’t really care. Under 12 parsecs, over 12 parsecs, whatever. How this information would travel to Jakku where Rey knew about it is beyond me (or logic).
In the final 20 or so minutes, everyone reunites. Enfys Nest shows up and reveals she’s a girl… but also she’s a kid. Cool. I could put her at the same badass level and age as Sabine from Rebels (though, I’m not good at guessing ages.) Turns out she’s leading a band of Rebels, probably looking to join the Rebellion and she could really use that mcguffin fuel for the cause.
Han and Qi’ra talk. Qi’ra says, “I know what you really are.”
“The good guy.”
“No I’m not.”
“Then what are you?”
“I’m an outlaw.”
God forbid we can’t figure out for ourselves who the “good guy” is, so we need someone to tell us that he is, right Disney?
Han then tells Beckett his plan for tricking Dryden Vos and letting Nest get away with the mcguffin fuel.
Dryden Vos’s ship appears and they bring a case of mcguffin fuel to his ship. Vos immediately knows it’s fake. By the way, Voss has a giant crystal skull in his office and it is super distracting, but it’s the only thing visually interesting in the shot, that it’s all I could ever focus on. Anyways, Vos is pissed at Qi’ra for betraying him. Then, to no surprise, Beckett reveals that it was him. He quickly shoots Vos’s remaining guards (the others went down to take care of Nest). Then, he leaves with Chewie and the case.
This begins a standoff that was cool and I liked, but it could’ve been done a bit better. As soon as the door shuts, the three people in the room immediately dash to different sides of the room , behind a couch and where a weapon was. I would’ve liked them to stand still for a bit, waiting for someone to flinch, all while the music and mood intensified, but fine. Ultimately, Qi’ra suddenly uses fancy martial arts to kill Vos and tells Solo to go on ahead. Then she takes Voss’s boss ring and uses it to contacts Voss’s Boss. In an odd cameo, that boss is Darth Maul. Okay. He doesn’t do anything, he doesn’t discuss why he’s a crime boss or whatever. He has his staff and metal legs from Rebels, and for LITERALLY NO REASON WHATSOEVER, ignites his lightsaber and then deactivates it.
Finally, Han teleports in front of Beckett from the ship he came out of literally behind him and they have a good ol’ zero-stakes standoff. Beckett says, “One last piece of advice-” Blam, Han shot first. Ok, that was forced, but fine. Then, Han cradles him in his lap, like he didn’t just turn on him, and said “for the record I was gonna shoot you.” Therefore, Han’s preemptive strike was validated. God forbid our heroes aren’t clear-cut goodie-goodies, right Disney?
Then the tiki hut scene I mentioned before happened. Han and Chewie then head off to Tatooine, where Beckett spoke about a huge job. The end.
8) Misc. stuff I wanted to address.
In Rogue One we got some but not all of Planet subtitles, which I would’ve liked if it first translated from Arubesh (the Star Wars alphabet), and did it for every planet. Solo does not do that and I kind of wish Rogue One set a trend of that for non-saga movies. But I guess not.
Let’s talk music. It was very good. I liked Han’s theme. I loved Enfys Nest’s theme. I do think that for the most part, when it’s not reusing themes from the original trilogy, it didn’t always sound like Star Wars. It also didn’t sound at all like a western, which this movie should have embraced. You know; instruments like a guitar a whistle, a chant, a gradual leathery drum beat, a harmonica, but then with Star Wars added to it. It needed that. For the most part, it sounded like generic Marvel action music, but then would dip into Star Wars. Again, it’s memorable enough to where I will definitely listen to it again and overall I liked it.
Last but not least, we have to talk about the acting. Woody Harrelson was surprisingly forgettable, in the way Thandie Newton was surprisingly unattractive and forgettable. I’m pretty sure it’s because Lord/Miller casted him for his improv skills and that is where Harrelson would have shined. (Like Yandu, from Guardians of the Galaxy.) Then Disney watered everyone down and made the whole movie foggy so nobody could see how bad the movie was. And if it wasn’t such a slap in the face enough, Beckett tells Han “DO NOT IMPROVISE”. Yes, Disney we’re all aware of your phony reason for cutting Lord/Miller. (But you had no problem with Thor Ragnarok, huh? A high-profile franchise film that relied heavily on improv is okay all of a sudden?)
Alden Ehrenreich was NOT a good pick for Han Solo. He didn’t look like Harrison Ford, and totally lacked Ford’s unique style of charisma. My brother thought he was way more out of character than I did, essentially saying that Han was always snappy with people. I think simply put, he smiled too much. He was always smiling. Harrison ford rarely gets his face passed a smirk. Han Solo was grumpy and impatient when people were ever unsure of things or asked too many questions. Alden Ehrenreich just smiled too much. He was always too eager to do things. Han Solo is the type of character who will only help out if there’s no other choice and he’s begged. Then, he surprises you by showing back up to help blow up the Death Star. If Solo wanted to change that, then they needed to end it on why he becomes how we know him to be otherwise. Like, if Han shot first here, why wouldn’t he shoot Greedo first?
A Solo origin movie like the one that we were given would have worked way better if it were done in a tongue-and-cheek style that Lord/Miller had in mind. They’ve proved themselves with their other films. I and many fans trusted them to give some kind of life to a movie no one wanted or asked for. It is clear that Disney doesn’t have a plan for Star Wars, nor is trying to make one. Nobody wants Star Wars to lose its light, but it seems Disney would rather run it dry with a rushed shallow movie every year than a spectacular and revolutionary film every so often. I mean, God! How is anyone supposed to play with their Star Wars toys, when every year you try to force a new crew of characters onto us!