(Photo courtesy of Disney)
Full disclosure: I am a first-generation expert level Star Wars nerd. So it is with great sadness I reveal the following confession to you all...
I saw SOLO: A Star Wars Story at an advanced screening OVER A WEEK AGO and haven’t had the heart to tell you!!!! (until now.)
You guys, It’s just…..NOT awesome. There. I said it.
A stand-alone movie about Han Solo; the smirking scoundrel with a heart of gold, a character I have loved since day ONE!!! The badass cat who replied to Princess Leia's "I love you" with "I KNOW."
I had a bad feeling about this. Hell, I bet we ALL did after reading that the original directors were FIRED halfway through filming. Welp, just like Han, we were right to worry.
The first third of this movie is spent explaining things we, as Star Wars disciples, never questioned (did anyone EVER care where young Han (played by Alden Ehrenreich) got his last name? Or how his favorite blaster came to be? (--really guys, even the blaster has an origin story?) There’s even talk of Han’s Dad getting laid off and how ironic it was that he used to build the very model of ship the Millennium Falcon is. I suspect even the casual Star Wars fan will roll their eyes at that one. We spend way too much time being hit over the head with silly details about a past that should start when Han meets his WOOKIE.
If the theater had a fast-forward button, I would have hit it hard, and not stopped until the (surprisingly awesome, but way too short) shower scene between Han and Chewie. (No, I'm not making that up) THERE'S A SHOWER SCENE BETWEEN HAN AND CHEWBACCA! (is that considered a spoiler? nahhhh)
Hey, if shower scenes with wookies are NOT your thing, you might want to skip straight to the middle of the movie, when we first meet the younger Lando Calrissian.
**** DANGER!! ACTUAL SPOILERS AHEAD****
I'm not saying this movie is saved by Donald Glover (aka Childish Gambino) who plays the young caped pan-sexual badass. Sure, his first lines sound so much like the Lando we already know, you'd swear Billy Dee Williams was in the room! Glover chews up every scene he’s in, but it’s not nearly enough to elevate this movie to proper STAR WARS SAGA status. According to the powers that be; Solo is a STAR WARS “story” …not part of the “SAGA”…that’s the distinction. Apparently, that's code for 'we care more about making money and keeping the franchise alive than we do about releasing a quality film.'
Do I sound pissed? Good, because I am.
When you find yourself silently re-editing a film in your head AS YOU'RE WATCHING IT, you might be in trouble. It also feels like we are expected to love and adore brand new characters we just met five minutes ago, and then feel super sad when they expire five minutes later. It felt like hyper-speed whiplash!
Did you catch the pan-sexual reference I made earlier? Turns out Lando is very, um, involved with his droid L3-37. Much like K2-SO in Rogue one, L3 is voiced by a delightfully snarky actor (Broadchurch's Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and provides much-needed comedy and a freaky twist not seen since we find out post-smooch that Luke and Leia are BROTHER AND SISTER. And do NOT get me started on the filmmakers taking us on an immediate leap into "girl-talk" between L3 and Q'ira, (Han's love interest played by Game of Thrones' Amelia Clarke) in an "Ugh, MEN!-- am I right?!?" chat that takes place in the Falcon's cockpit minutes after we meet Lando’s DGF (Droid Girlfriend). More whiplash ensues.
**** Spoilers over!! (for the moment)****
Rogue One had some similar moments, especially after all the original trailer scenes wound up on the cutting-room floor of the official release. Yet, I LOVED Rogue One. Hell, I loved it more than THE LAST JEDI. So SOLO really has no excuse. Calling in Ron Howard to “save” this movie after the original co-directors were let go, probably helped, but not enough. This is a billion-dollar franchise guys, please don’t release a movie this disjointed again. We’re begging you. I’m so tired of defending my Star Wars love when sub-par movies are being released that can’t even hold a candle to the PREQUELS. Yeah, I said it. Fight me.
Now that I have all that off my chest, let's talk about some positives, shall we?
Standout shout outs:
- The last 20 minutes of this film. The Kessel run explained. "Not if you round DOWN!"
- Woody Harrelson as an O.G. scoundrel who mentors Han and teaches him the importance of shooting first.
- Paul Bettany, certainly one of the better bad guys we've seen in a while. I obviously appreciated that among his trophies in his lair include Mandalorian armor. (please don't mess up a Boba Fett movie, I beg of you.)
- Thandie Newton, and her badass 70’s style Angela Davis ‘do, as Beckett's explosives expert & girlfriend Val.
- Jon Favreau as the voice of the all CGI character Rio Durant, the pilot of Beckett's ragtag band of marauders…Durant is around just long enough for us to root for him, then poof! Bye Bye Durant! (did Game of Thrown's George R.R. Martin have a hand in this script??)
- Cameos by Warwick Davis aka Willow!( For all you Lucas nerds) and of course, Ron’s brother Clint Howard.
Since one more spoiler lies ahead, let me just say now that I'll be skipping a second screening of SOLO.I'll probably watch Rogue One again instead. A wonderfully dark, stand-alone movie, about a story of brave rebels who gave their lives to save the galaxy. No three-movie deal, no huge merchandise push, no animated companion series. Just a great ‘beginning, middle and end’ story. Man, I sound wicked old. "GET OFF MY STAR WARS LAWN!"
**** SUPER Spoiler alert: PLEASE do not read below if you haven't seen the movie yet****
and do NOT get mad at me if you do....
Kira makes a call to her REAL boss towards the end of the movie, and it appears to be the one and only Darth Maul. (If it’s not him I’ll eat my Boba Fett helmet.)
Doubters could argue the possibility of it being another male from his species, they all have those red and black markings, plus horns. It's a somewhat fuzzy hologram, but as far as I could tell It’s most certainly played by the same actor, (Ray Park), and he grabs a light saber as only a Jedi or Sith can. In the Star Wars Canon, (that’s Nerd speak for the book series), Darth Maul cheats death after a young Obi-wan slices him in half, but are we going by the books, or the movies now? If it's the latter, the timing seems off.
Share your theories, hatred of me, or what YOU thought of the film in the comments below. Thanks for reading!