"I feel the conflict within you" Initial reactions to Solo: A Star Wars Story

*WARNING – that’s no moon: it’s a spoiler!*

It’s gone 1am, and I should really be in bed. But you see, I’ve just got out of a screening of Solo: A Star Wars Story and – well – I had to put my feelings down into words. Not because I loved it (I didn’t). And not because I hated either. But because I feel so… conflicted.

On one level the film is aggressively mediocre. Lord and Miller got sacked because Disney didn’t like the direction they were taking it, and Ron Howard was brought on because he’s a safe pair of hands. And frankly Solo is Howard at his most vanilla. It’s inoffensive bordering on the beige at times, and yet –thanks largely to the excellent turns by Ehrenreich and Glover who are both charm machines – the film bizarrely comes out tops as reasonably solid entertainment.

Since a lot of fans hated the risk taking Episode 8, perhaps this is the palette cleanser they needed. Still, I personally feel this universe could do with a few more risks, for better or worse. What I don’t want is another film paying fanboy lip-service to a trilogy which ended 35 years ago.

Anyway, if you’d been sat next to me in the cinema and done a Jedi mind trick, you’d have been able to see my thoughts whilst watching went a little something like this:

  • It’s a Star Wars Story, not an Episode, so that means no crawl. Oh, wait a minute. Static title cards. I see what you did there. And it’s about a little boy who wants to “fly amongst the stars” or something. I’ve got a bad feeling about this…solo-a-star-wars-story-chewbacca-love-story-1102779-1280x0
  • Why do all the female newcomers to the Star Wars Universe speak with a clipped English boarding school accent? Was there some mass industrial accident that wiped out all British women who received a state education? Or perhaps this was the product of some nefarious Imperial scheme. Interesting…posh star wars
  • Oh, so that’s the origin of Han’s name: literally say what you see. Are we getting origin stories for every incidental detail of this whole mythology? Like Chewie ripping a man’s arm off… or Han shooting first… or the doing the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs…. Yes, apparently we are.
  • GUYS. I’ve blown this whole thing wide open: lovable space rogue teams up with super hench alien muscle buddy who speaks in monosyllabic dialect, as well as bad-ass female mercenary, comedy interstellar pilot with a New York accent and a surrogate star dad. Together they are bad-guys-but-not-really and end up saving the universe. Something about this feels oddly familiar.solo guardians comparison
  • Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3 might be the best new character. But when she says she wants equal rights with her “organic overlord”, Lando sighs and walks away: not sure who this joke is for exactly? “A sentient being who wants equality? Get real sister”. I know she’s a robot, but it feels like an odd beat to try and extract humour from. Anyway, I really like her.
  • And she’s dead. Is it weird that the most believable chemistry is between a human and a bot? I don’t care. I want an L3/Lando prequel where they head West on 20 in a spaceship they can’t afford with a plan they don’t have.L3-37-in-Solo-Star-Wars
  • And she’s not dead – but in the Falcon somehow. Never to be spoken to as a person again, but presumably self-aware nevertheless, entombed inside the circuits. Is it just me, or does this seem like an oddly horrific fate?
  • Warwick Davis y’all! Is it a contractual obligation that he appears in all these films? Because I’m down with that.
  • And Woody is evil. The guy who said “Trust no one” turned out to be talking about himself! Ehrenreich must be literally the only person who didn’t see that coming.
  • Eamon? Is Paul Bettany’s evil henchman really called Eamon? Man, I want his backstory. And what are the other guys called: Jeff? Billy? Oh no, wait a minute. He’s dead too. Or is he… because…
  • Darth Maul is alive!? So this must be set pre-Phantom Menace. But the Empire is already established, so we have to be after Revenge of the Sith: that means Maul survived the duel of the fates… when he was cut in half… and fell down a bottomless chasm… and never showed up in Episodes 2 or 3…. until now…*does some quick Googling, discovers that Maul did indeed survive the duel of the fates and has been enjoying a successful retirement on TV’s Rebels and Clone Wars* I call Bantha poo on that. darth-maul-invades-another-star-wars-prequel-in-solo
  • It’s the end. Han made the right choice – he gave the Unobtainium to the Hunger Games kid so that she can light the fire which will fan the flame which will spark the rebellion which will dethrone the Emperor and blow up the Death Star and then allow the First Order to rise up which will need the Resistance who will light the fire which will fan the flame… Hang on: is the entire Star Wars universe a giant ouroboros snake of rebellious platitudes and unchecked fascist uprisings? I thought it was supposed to be science fiction?
  • Is there a post-credit sting? No. That’s it. Qi’ra is still alive… which means they are setting up Solo 2: the sequel to the prequel which is a sequel to the third prequelWhatever the quality of these films, I’m still unconvinced that these are the Star Wars movies we need right now.

Follow Tim on Twitter @fatscoleman for more film related ramblings.

Published by Tim Coleman

Film critic. Screenwriter. Academic.

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