Movie Review: Solo

The movie news pages are all abuzz with headlines of how poorly Solo performed at the box office this weekend, earning much less than predicted both in the US and internationally. I’ve read some reviews that are mixed to negative, and some that really liked the movie. Having seen the movie myself, I’m happy to weigh in on the matter.

I’ll be upfront about it: I gave the film a 7/10, which means I liked it a fair amount. I was leery about seeing someone else in the Solo role other than Harrison Ford, but I felt like Alden Ehrenreich really nailed it, enough that I stopped thinking of him as someone filling in someone else’s shoes, and just started thinking of him as a young Solo. (His smile seemed particularly on point to me.)

Beyond that, it was a fun movie, with a whole ton of action. The effects were spot on, the fighting was intense. It’s a movie that’s a lot of fun to see in a theater with a group of people.

Was it a Star Wars movie? Well, it had Chewbacca in it. It had cool droids. It didn’t have the Force at all, and it had no one named Skywalker in it. Overall, it still managed to feel Star Warsy, even without the Force (though the Force has always been my personal favorite aspect of Star Wars.)

At its heart, this is a heist movie, which feels natural for a Solo origin story. It tried a bit too hard to explain every tiny bit of back story about Han, right down to his name. Those were the parts that felt weakest to me, as if they were contorting to fit it all in there. That isn’t necessary. It’s also a movie that’s an amalgamation of different directors. Started by two, finished by Ron Howard, though it’s up for debate how much of the original conceit hung around. I would be really interested to know what Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (the original directors, who also did The Lego Movie) had up their sleeves. From what I’ve heard, it was a much more humorous take. Part of me is curious to see what a truly funny Star Wars movie would be like, but at the same time, I can’t fault Disney for ultimately balking. I think they took a risk and then decided the end result wouldn’t be good for the brand they’re trying to build.

Though at the same time, I think it’s inevitable that they will ultimately end up with some pretty crazy Star Wars movies. It’s one of the only things you can do to keep a brand fresh. See Guardians of the Galaxy.

One of the biggest criticisms the movie is getting is about how expensive it ended up, and how hard it will be to make a profit. I’m not sure Disney will view it that way, since a large part of the expense is on their shoulders. They started, stopped, changed directions, and restarted. That costs money. And hoping to have a wonderful end product after all of that is a big ask. I was happy to see it was a solid, enjoyable movie.

I think it was also marketed fairly poorly. All the dollars went to Infinity War, and then it was like Disney figured it would be able to build up steam in about two weeks, just because Star Wars. This proves them wrong, and hopefully they avoid this in the future.

But if you’re looking for a fun popcorn movie, there are much worse movies to see. My kids both loved it. DC especially. I think it did a good job earning its spot in the canon, and I will happily rewatch it again in the future. For what it was intended to be (Star Wars heist movie that fills in Solo’s backstory), it does a solid job.


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