- Thu Jun 21, 2018 1:33 pm
I finally went to see Solo, and I was very surprised. I liked it a lot.
What I liked especially is that all the plot points connect really well. There's the occasional call back (and some unnecessary mentions of random characters), but there wasn't the outrageous amount of fan service that turned me off from Rogue One. I also like that the Empire is really just in the background during the film, and never takes center stage. There's the occasional stormtrooper, and of course the check point scene. But it's really not about the Empire. And yet the movie succeeds at showing the rise of the Empire before the rebellion, and showing it during the height of its oppression.
A lot of things that I thought I was going to hate, turned out to be really not that bad. I didn't really mind how Han got his last name, or his gun. And quite frankly I liked almost all the main actors. The only one who I thought was mediocre, was Emelia Clarke. But I've always said that I got the impression that she is an actress with not a whole lot of range. This movie once again reinforces that belief. Everyone else though, just fine.
For the majority of the film Alden Ehrenreich does not look like Han Solo. But there's a few shots near the end of the movie, where you see him from the side, when he looks almost exactly like him. There's also a few callbacks to scenes from the original trilogy, where they literally copied scenes with Han on purpose. And maybe this was just our imagination, but I could have sworn they spliced in a frame of Harrison Ford in some of the scenes.
What was really important to me, was how they fleshed out the characters. It felt to me like everyone had a reason to be in the movie, and nobody was just a random action figure filling screentime (I'm looking at you Baze Malbus and Chirrut). All the characters were well fleshed out and interesting. There's also quite a lot of interesting alien designs in the movie, and some excellent WWI inspired costumes.
Also, contrary to Rogue One, this movie picks just a few locations and sticks with it. The movie is not constantly hopping all over the place, and we see almost all of the movie through Han's perspective. The one thing that I really disliked, was the opening of the movie, with Han in his speeder. It just wasn't a very strong opening, as if the writers didn't really know how to start. But once it gets going, it's a fun ride.
The action set pieces are really good, especially the train sequence. But the movie shows quite a lot of restraint in the action department towards the end. It all plays out in a more personal confrontation, rather than some over the top explosive action scene. And I appreciated that. I also liked how some things come full circle. Obviously we all know Han is going to win the Falcon over a game of Sabacc. So I think it was an excellent choice to have him lose the game halfway through the movie, right when he needs to get his hands on the Falcon. The mock-unfriendly hug by Lando from Empire Strikes Back, is used excellently to explain how Han puts an end to Lando's cheating towards the end of the movie. I felt that was just a perfect way to connect these callbacks into the actual plot. This was my biggest criticism of Rogue One; if you are going to do a callback, justify its existence in the story. Don't just throw in the "You'll be dead"-guy for the sake of having him make a cameo. Solo does a great job at justifying most of its callbacks, and using them to bring the story full circle.
At the heart of the movie though, is Han's friendship with Chewie, which I felt was very well done. Also, Donald Glover just oozes charisma as Lando. He is perfect. The plot overall is pretty predictable. The movie marks all of Redletter Media's checkboxes of lazy writing: Sabacc, meeting chewie, Kessel run, and Sith cameo, all in one single adventure. But it's how it all comes together that is also important. In that respect, I'm a little sad that the movie did so poorly. It deserves to be seen by more people, because it is a fun ride, and really not as bad as some people make it out to be. I would definitely rate this higher than The Last Jedi, and much higher than Rogue One. Just a good old fun space-adventure romp.