SOLO: Did it suck, or was it just bad timing?
A lot of my friends, for some reason, like to ask me for an opinion on the latest Star Wars movie before they run out to see it. Either because I have a mediocre eloquence with words, or because I’m known for fair and spoiler-free reviews. Or everyone knows that I’m a huge Star Wars nerd. Whatever.
I finally had a chance to see SOLO yesterday. So you might have read that it actually underperformed at the box office. (It did. It might break even financially, but no corporation invests $250,000,000 into a project just to break even.)
If you’re on the fence about seeing this movie, I’ll offer up my spoiler free review in just a moment. But right off the bat, I want to assure Star Wars fans that it’s a decent movie. It really is, and it’s fun. There’s a bunch of reasons why this movie wasn’t going to make the profit.
1. One of the reasons that the budget is so ridiculously high is that the original writer director team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street, The Last Man on Earth) had creative differences with LucasFilm, and they were fired mid-way through the production of the film. Ron Howard was hired to step in and finish the film, and it reportedly required a lot of re-shoots. It’s easier to make a profit when you aren’t forced to overspend on the budget. So that’s one thing.
2. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR and DEADPOOL. Either of them would have been some serious competiton. Both of them together, though? That made it tough on the pocketbooks for a movie like Solo.
3. Yeah, I know its Star Wars. But it’s not one of the main saga films, this is one of the new “Star Wars Stories” entries, like ROGUE ONE. I personally like these films, because they explore other sections of the Star Wars universe. It’s not all Rebels, Imperials, Jedi and Sith----there’s gangsters, pirates, smugglers, bounty hunters and more. (Okay, they sort of did sneak in a sword fight into the third act, but it wasn’t lightsabers.)
4. Finally, Lucasfilm has made the cool decision to permanently move Star Wars back to the month of May where it belongs. This is a good move (May the Fourth is Star Wars day, after all) but doing it this year means that we’re having another Star Wars movie just five months after the release of the last one. For the non-fanatic Star Wars fan, that’s just burnout asking to happen. And when you couple that with the competition, a lot of movie goers just decided to let this one wait until the DVD release. Which will probably be soon.
So there’s my personal assessment of why you’re hearing why this movie is bombing. Just bad timing, honestly.
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY is a fun movie that gives us a peek at everyone’s favorite nerf herder, the dashing and cocky Han Solo. It feels not so much of an origin story, and more of a “week in the life” of a scoundrel with a heart. Which is a good thing. The story is fairly simple and low-stakes compared to other Star Wars movies (something about smuggling hyperfuel for one criminal warlord to pay off a debt to another criminal warlord, all while protecting it from a marauding pirate in a fearsome mask.) It’s a heist movie, and it’s a total blast.
I think the only real problem with this film comes from the obligatory surprise cameo at the very end of the movie. It’s cool, because it’s taking some information directly from the CLONES WARS and REBELS animated series. (We all knew they were canon anyway, but it’s always cool to see it recognized in the feature films, such as when the character of Saw Guerrera appeared in ROGUE ONE.) It’s also
off-putting, because it’s clearly a set-up for a future story in a future Solo movie, which will probably not happen. I’m always annoyed by little story threads that are put in the movie in the presumptuous hope that a sequel will follow. Now you’ve left a dangling plot thread that won’t be resolved in the films. But….ignoring that….the cameo was still cool.
If you haven’t seen the movie, I’d recommend it with a medium bag of popcorn and a big cup of Mr. Pibb. It’s a decent movie. I’d also recommend you not read any further, because here’s comes my spoiler filled thoughts and observations!
SPOILER TIME! READ NO FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO HEAR ANY MORE!!
Still with me? Did you see it? Hey, I liked it. I went it expecting to see a low-stakes pirates and smugglers movie. (Low stakes, as in, entire planets and civilizations aren’t at risked of being blown away by a death star-type weapon.) I wanted to see how Chewie and Han met. I wanted to see someone finally play Sabbac on film. I wanted to see Han win the Falcon. I wanted to know if Han really did join the Imperial Navy. And I really wanted to see an instance where Han shot first. I was happy.
Here are my other observations.
• Did you catch the classic Imperial March music being used as the music being played outside the Imperial Navy recruitment center? Cute touch.
• Han remembered his dad, but he didn’t remember his real last name?
• Alden Enrenreich did just fine as Solo, I wouldn’t mind him reprising his role again. But Donald Glover just stole the show as a young Lando. (And I was kind of fond of Phoebe Waller-Bridge as his sassy droid partner L3-37.)
• I was almost expecting L3-37’s memory to have been implanted into his Lobot friend from Empire Strikes Back. But considering the pseudo-romantic undertones that existed between L3 and Lando, that might have been some transgender storylines Star Wars wasn’t ready to cross yet.
• There were some cool call outs to Aurra Sing (the bald female bounty hunter that had tons of books and action figures, but only two seconds in THE PHANTOM MENACE), Bossk (the lizard bounty hunter from EMPIRE STRIKES BACK) and the Zam Sisters (the shape-changing bounty hunter in ATTACK OF THE CLONES had a sister?)
• So Qi’ra knows the martial arts style of Teräs Käsi? That’s hilarious. If you didn’t know, that was a 1997 Playstation game where Star Wars characters fought each other in Street Fighter-style combat. It was a horrible game, but it’s funny that the whole concept of that fighting style just got canonized.
• In the EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, C-3Po mentions that the ship’s computer is speaking in a very peculiar dialect. I guess that was the consciousness of L3-37 he was talking to all this time.
• It sounds like the whole concept of Chewbacca owing Han Solo a “life debt” (mentioned often in the pre-Legends era of books) has been disregarded. I’m strangely fine with that. They’re just two friends who found each other.
• Darth Maul. Wow. In case you’re confused about HOW IN ZUES’S BUTTHOLE IS HE STILL ALIVE…..it all comes back from the animated series. In the CLONE WARS cartoon, it was revealed that he actually did survive being cut in half, solely by using the power of the Force (and a lot of hate) to keep himself alive until he could cobble together a really clunky spider-like body to wander around like a forgotten monster in a cave. Feeling abandoned by his former master (the Emperor) and driven by hate for Obi-Wan (the guy who cut him in half) he eventually met up with his brother and developed a criminal empire. In time, he gave himself some sweet cybernetic legs and became a serious threat in the galaxy…before eventually meeting an older Obi-Wan in the desert (in REBELS) and finally dying for real in a short but emotional duel. But since SOLO is set years after PHANTOM MENACE and his wandering like a spider-monster years, and years before his death in REBELS, he appeared at the height of his power as a criminal underlord…complete with sweet cyborg legs.
Even though they may not follow this up in any future movies, it was very cool to recognize the events of the cartoon.
• Did you see the skin getting pulled off of that squid monster circling the gravitational storm? Ewwwww!!!
• And finally, it was uncomfortable, but funny. Having a wookiee step into the shower with me is now going to be my new irrational fear.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about SOLO --- as well as any other Star Wars nerd talk. Have a great weekend, and may the Force be with y’all!