In one of the first scenes of Ron Howard’s Solo, we get an encounter between Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and an Imperial desk clerk. Solo is a small time crook who has found his way off the streets by joining the Imperial Army. Here is how the encounter went down:
Imperial Desk Clerk: Name?
Han Solo: Han.
Clerk: Last name?
Han stares silently into the distance.
Clerk: Your last name? Who are your people?
Han: I don’t have any people.
Clerk (while typing) – [SLOWLY] Han Solo.
This encounter took place roughly ten or fifteen minutes into the movie and it immediately turned me off of the remaining two hours. This brief conversation is lazy, dumb, and boring and sets the tone for what Solo is as a movie: lazy, dumb, and boring.
Solo is the second Star Wars film outside of the original storyline, following Rouge One in 2016. Rouge One succeeded because it told a story we didn’t know before. The film looked at the group of people who sacrificed their lives in order to get the plans of the Death Star for the Rebel Alliance. We knew the outcome of the plan, having see A New Hope and knowing that the Rebels got the plans and eventually blew up the Death Star. But what we didn’t know were the people and droids who got the plans and that is what the movie was really about. We learned about Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor and the rest of the gang. We dove deeper into the Imperial Army and met new villains and saw old ones in a new light. We got to explore the galaxy further and go to new planets we never knew existed. We knew the outcome, but the film was a new look at Star Wars.
Solo doesn’t do that. In fact, it does the opposite. It’s almost like the screenwriters watched the original trilogy, took everything Han Solo said he did, and put that into a movie. It’s a beat-for-beat highlight reel of Solo’s life. From meeting Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover, smooth as hell), to making the Kessel run. The problem with this is that it doesn’t add anything to the character. Han Solo is an iconic character, not just in Star Wars lore, but in all of cinema. We had three movies to get to know him and we have a pretty good idea of who Han Solo is, but there is plenty of story to unfold.
This brings up a couple questions about the film. The first question, and one most of the people I saw the movie with were asking after the movie was finished, was should this movie have even been made? Did we really need a Han Solo movie? I think not, but we have one, so we have to deal with it. So knowing that there is going to be a Han Solo origin story, what story do we tell? What Solo needed to do was show us a Han Solo we didn’t know. Show us Solo growing up as a street smuggler. Show us a movie of Han Solo working with Jabba the Hut. Show us how Han Solo became the Han Solo we were introduced to in A New Hope. Showing us sequences of things we already knew happen doesn’t add anything new to a character, it only forces us to waste our time watching it.
But besides these larger questions, Solo has a lot of other issues. The overlong runtime drags almost immediately. I checked my watch at least half a dozen times while watching the film and was disappointed every time I saw how much time was left. The cinematography, done by the usually sensational Bradford Young, is unnecessarily dark to the point where it feels like we are looking through fog for half the film. The actions sequences are incredibly dull, the score might as well be non-existent, and the plot is so overstuffed with characters, new and old, and terrible villains that you end up not caring about anybody.
The biggest flaw of the movie is the treatment of Han Solo as a character. Alden Ehrenreich is going to get a lot of flack for his performance, but he does okay work with the garbage he was given. This is not the Han Solo we know. He does everything Solo did, but the attitude, the charisma, the swindling, it’s all done wrong. For being brought up with such a tough childhood, none of it has phased him or affected him, as he’s a relatively cheerful jokster, where as Harrison Ford’s Solo was more serious and darkly cynical.
There is also a love story between Solo and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke, in yet another rough performance). This love story is the motivation for Solo throughout the entire film. He and Qi’ra grew up together and he is madly in love with her and wants to be with her. Han Solo is not a character who would go across the galaxy for a girl. He’s the kind of guy who would meet a girl, spend the night with her, and then by morning is halfway to another planet. This love story could have been a character building piece, where this relationship affected Solo so much that it shaped him in such a drastic way that he became the man he was in A New Hope. But it isn’t. In fact, there is no real affect of this love story or Qi’ra’s character in general. It’s just an added plot device in a movie that doesn’t need one.
Oh, and there is a brief cameo in the film that literally made me throw my hands up in the air. It doesn’t fit in this movie and feels incredibly forced. Just typing about this cameo made me angry all over again.
Internal Critic: Movie?
Me: Solo: A Star Wars Story
Internal Critic: Rating?
Me: [stares blankly]
Internal Critic: Rating? What would you rate this movie? How many stars would you give it?
Me: I don’t have a lot of stars to give it.
Internal Critic: [slowly] One star.
Did you see Solo: A Star Wars Story? Comment below or hit me up on Twitter and Instagram, @kevflix, or on Facebook by searching Kevflix.