One of the classic Star Wars icons now just got his own movie, set to answer whatever questions you seldom asked such as, “How did he meet Chewbacca?” What else do we learn about old Han Solo in his backstory? Well… not a whole lot else. If anything, longtime fans could enjoy a climactic nostalgic cameo towards the end, even if it skews the Star Wars prequel timeline. Ultimately, Solo: A Star Wars Story thrills enough, yet after thinking deeper, you will most likely say, “meh, now I can say I’ve seen it.”
Although technical scale still delivers; right away, a brief sequence insinuates a chaotic battleground ambience while Han is caught in the army. Of all breathtaking showcases this film features, I found most memorable an instance when the Millennium Falcon fell into a huge gravity well, home to a bigger than life creature; surround sound in full IMAX 3D terror. Technical prowess enhances the quieter moments too: a point during act three mimics a classic Western showdown without much surround sound to mark Han’s peak… I’d say it even looks far better staged than Han’s pre-special edition confrontation against Greedo!
This film almost calls back to how Han was originally inspired off the classic Hollywood Western gunslinger: blaster on his belt, fingers always ready to fire any given second. But that old inspiration goes a few steps further in following a few beats to those types of westerns:
- Han’s gang winds up attacked while on a snow planet by a gaggle of marauders whose dress in some ways resemble Native Americans, a tribal choir engulfing the score.
- A key plot point between the main characters and these marauders parallels a truce set between White men and the Indian Chief to fight a common threat, fitting an old Western “white savior” archetype.
- Then it all ends with the sheriff riding alone toward the sunset (ahem, starfield).
While these characters together often attempt humor, memorable snarky humor never pops up. The odds of any dialogue doing something other than advance the next side quest is approximately 3,720 to 1. Plus, there are many coincidences that evidence inconsistency in writing out Han’s personality: he speaks Wookiee directly to Chewbacca, which we have never once seen him do. Thus, longtime Star Wars fans may feel cheek-slapped.
Before I discuss this feature’s greatest flaw, here comes its best endeavor: production design. On Corellia, where Han first lives, the architectural design completely shuts off the sky, staging a sensational Indiana Jones style Landspeeder chase that should guarantee excitement right away. Corellia’s dark industrial atmosphere soon freezes into a cold, massive mountain range, contrasted later to a leopard-colored club, until toned back down inside a tungsten underground club, claustrophobic to signify tension. Said design choices become a very stark see-saw balancing the splendor of the Sierra Nevada and the murderous malice that happens within those borders. In similar fashion, subtle beauty differs the time of betrayal depicted. You see some beautiful sights alright, such as Emilia Clarke’s black silk dress, but not before a small expositional image shows a Stormtrooper separating a mother from her children.
It proves the production team’s mindset behind Solo: A Star Wars Story: a push for unrealized societal ideas. One of those ideas lies inside the memory system of Lando’s droid, L3-37, who wants to rebel against droid enslavement, so they don’t have to forcibly fight each other—Mike Vick style. It’s not just that this side plot is completely unnecessary to the main plot (which probably doesn’t matter anyway, because there isn’t really one), but the one leading that side plot frankly annoys of Jar Jar Binks proportions. Not to mention despite the last three installments’ achievement in ethnic diversity, essentially all humans, besides Lando Calrissian, are white, setting a step backwards in the Star Wars franchise when it comes to prominent representation across multiple groups.
Ultimately, Star Wars spinoff number two ends up an overly convenient narrative that proves why Han Solo is better off kept carbon frozen, like Harrison Ford wanted years ago.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Alexander, Julia. “Donald Glover addresses Lando’s sexuality: ‘How can you not be pansexual in space?’” Polygon. Vox Media, 22 May 2018. Web. <https://www.polygon.com/2018/5/22/17380048/solo-star-wars-donald-glover-lando-calrissian-pansexual >.
Bishop, Bryan. “Solo: A Star Wars Story — our spoiler-free review.” Digital image. The Verge. Vox Media, 15 May 2018. Web. <https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/15/17355964/solo-a-star-wars-story-review-ron-howard>.
Dunne, Carey. “Weird Facts Behind 6 Famous Star Wars Costumes.” Co.Design. Mansueto Ventures, LLC, 11 Feb 2015. Web. <https://www.fastcodesign.com/3042202/weird-facts-behind-6-famous-star-wars-costumes>.
Star Wars. Lucasfilm. Web. <https://www.starwars.com/films/solo>.