“You know Bod, for someone who claims to dislike Star Wars, you sure watch a lot of Star Wars movies” – Me to me, five minutes before entering the theater.
In a world where spaceships are powered by fusion drives, there’s a Mad Max-type struggle over the scarcity of… rocket fuel? What?
[Guy] and [Girl] are employed by the State government of Florida. They go visit Gov. Rick Scott, who asks them for crystal meth, but they hide it from him. Rick gets mad, but [Guy] breaks the window, distracting him. The pair get out in a few seconds (not really sure how, but whatever), and drive away.
They go to a train station, where some government goons chase after them (clearly not realizing the two are sovereign citizens). He makes it through, but [Girl] is detained for not loudly proclaiming her rights. He goes over to Netflix HQ, where he demands a pilot. The man at the desk asks for his name, and he’s like “idk” and [man]’s like, “who are your people?” and he’s like “that’s a weird question,” and [man]’s like, “Han Solo, then,” and he’s like “yeah ok that works.”
After his show gets picked up for a full season, Han goes out to scout for locations. He runs into Woody Harrelson, who’s out spinning some guns (as you do). Han asks him to be in his new show, but Woody turns him down. After following him around for a while, he gets kidnapped by the crew of a Bigfoot documentary, who use Han as ‘squatch bait. Sure enough, he finds and befriends a local Yeti, and the two go out to meet up with Woody. Maeve is there too, so I guess they’re in like Space World? They all leave on a ship.
Han asks Bigfoot his name, to which Bigfoot replies “Bigfoot,” and Han’s like “nah Imma call you ‘Chewbs’ instead.” Chewbs seems annoyed. They, Woody, his pet monkey, and Maeve, set out to get more speed*. Everything goes wrong and the last two die.
They go over to the yacht-tower of Dryden Vos, some rich guy in recovery from getting scratched by his pet cat (repeatedly). There, Han runs into his old girlfriend, now a mass murderer operating under the moniker “Kira.” Huh. Vos tells them to get meth.
The four go to a seedy bar where people are playing a stupid card game that doesn’t make any sense. They meet up with acclaimed rich guy Lando Calrissian. (Fun fact, “Lando” is short for “landowner,” as the character is actually an allegory of the bourgeoisie). He and Han play cards, with Lando exploiting Han’s labor and taking the added value for himself. He then agrees to give them a ride somewhere, as long as they’re cool with using his feminist GPS.
The gang arrive at… White Castle? where they ask for some food. After being told by the employees that they are, in fact, closed, the group become enraged and kill everyone there, stealing their chalk*. The GPS runs out of battery, so Lando plugs it into the ship to recharge.
They land(o) on a desert, where some annoying kids come like, “trick-or-treat, can we get some meth?” Han takes the drugs to Vos, who double crosses him with Woody who then double crosses him but then also double crosses Han who gets double crossed by Kira who double crosses Vos. I think we’re up to 32 crosses now? Anyway, everyone’s dead except Kira, Han, and Chewbs. The former steals Vos’ ship and dips, while Han and C-dog finally give the kids their crank*. They go to another bar, where they rise up against Lando and reclaim rightful ownership of their property. The end.
*Street names for meth, if you’re not cool like I am
Normally in this section of the review, I’ll give some superficial description of editing, framing, …angles, etc. Believe it or not (you probably will) I don’t actually know that much about cinematography°. I can’t even do that for this movie, though, because I couldn’t fucking see anything.
I heard other reviewers talk about how poorly lit this film was, but I mostly brushed it off as nitpicking (heh). Nope. Some of the scenes in this movie are just straight impossible to make out. You can’t see character’s faces, you can’t really see sets. Especially during the action scenes with a lot of cuts, the combination of low lighting and messy editing made it really difficult to follow. Luckily this movie wasn’t that complicated, so I don’t feel like I missed anything. But god damn people, get some lights. You’re in a movie studio, they can’t be that hard to find.
° Sorry I chose math over film in college; sue me, nerds.
I’m still not entirely sure what the internet wanted with Han in this movie. Some people demanded a carbon(ite) copy of Harrison Ford. Some wanted him to start off as a radically different person and then transition into being the character we know from the the originals. And some people just wanted him to be awful so they could justify their Alden hate. Here’s my hot take on Han: he’s fine. Han’s character in this movie is basically OG Han, albeit slightly more naive and less cynical. The weirdest part was probably how little his character developed in respects other than his personality. Like he starts and ends the film with pretty much the same skill set? And the same outlook on life? And the same system of ethics? Whatever.
Every other character in this movie is… underdeveloped? Like even the characters who we probably should have a backstory for don’t really get one. The only things we learn about Lando is that he’s a famous pilot and he fucks robots. Qi’ra tells Han basically nothing, even though she probably should’ve. They play this as her not wanting to talk to Han about the various atrocities she’s committed, but she could’ve at least told him how she got off Corelia. Like even a “the worm lady got mad and sold me off to the space mob” would’ve been fine. Instead we’re basically meant to believe she teleported away? Woody Harrelson’s entire character is basically “guy who wants to retire and learn an instrument.” Thandie Newton actually looked the happiest during the part where she killed herself. I mean, people hate on Rogue One for having shitty characters, but this movie doesn’t do much better.
If anything, the only person in the movie to have depth was Chewbacca. We learn his age, what happened to his tribe, and more or less understand what he’d been doing before the start of the film. I feel like if your most complex character is one that can’t even really communicate, you fucked up somewhere.
This movie’s dialogue is like half generic action stuff, and half references to other things in Star Wars. There’s also a problem with the tone of the script. Now of those two categories, I think I was more annoyed with the latter, but have less respect for the former. A bunch of references (“Solo,” “Chewie,” “Han,” the blaster, the thingie Chewbacca wears, “ripping people’s arms off,” Kessel run, etc.) are dumb and really obvious, but it’s something that I went in expecting. Like the entire point of this movie is to set up other movies, so you know they’re gonna put in some backstory stuff for continuity. What I didn’t like was a bunch of bullshit that made the film lose its originality.
All of the stuff with Woody Harrelson and friends was totally non-specific to this universe. WH’s backstory (wanting to pull off “one last job” and retire to some place to play a fucking instrument) is generic beyond belief. Ditto his relationship with Thandie Newton. Some of the stuff with Voss is the same way. Like none of it was specific to Solo, or Star Wars in general. You could’ve found the same scenes in any type of action movie, making them both cliched and lazy. None of that would have mattered if they had clearly done it intentionally. Had they added a spin to it (which i think they did do with some of the “Western” scenes), then I wouldn’t have cared as much. But as it stands, there’s just a bunch of boring, flat conversations taking place in what was primarily marketed as a “fun” movie.
Sometimes things are said that get played as jokes, sometimes they’re really serious. Obviously it’s not an inherent problem for a movie to have some jokes, and some not-jokes, but the coloring seemed kind of arbitrary. Like statements with equal weight, or emotional importance are presented completely differently at random. This could be a rewrites thing, this could be a deliberate choice (probably not a deliberate choice). I don’t really care, I just thought it was weird.
I don’t want to get into this everytime I review a Star Wars movie (which is probably gonna be a lot), but basically John Williams the GOAT, the score is amazing, and don’t @ me. The only thing I noticed that stood out to me, was sometimes it sounded like the music playing was a John Williams track that was sped up to sound more intense? I don’t remember exactly when I heard it, I think it was during one of the chase scenes. But it was definitely odd. Why even bother fucking with a perfect score? It’s kinda the one thing you have going for you, Disney. Just sayin’.
Solo is a weird mishmash of contradictions. It’s fun but not funny, unique but not original, intense but slow, and light but also really fucking dark. I don’t take any joy in hating on this film. If anything, I feel kinda bad. For all its production problems, for all the Alden hate this movie got, it turned out… fine. Like, they did make a cohesive movie, which is sort of an accomplishment in its own right. Unfortunately, whatever they did end up with was really disorganized and tonally sporadic, which made it hard to watch. This is the one Star Wars movie that I actually wanted to like, but couldn’t, mainly because I was fluctuating between being bored, and squinting to figure out what was going on.
Good for: Casual Star Wars fans, Emilia Clarke’s CV (still better than Terminator 5)
Bad for: Diehard Star Wars fans, people who don’t care
Bod R8s: 4.8/8
It’s a perfectly fine and fun movie. Nice review.