Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story (2017)

The second-best version we could have gotten of this completely unnecessary, bad idea.

In a galaxy where we have to have this – which, let’s be clear, we do not need any of this – I’d opt for a Lando movie. Especially this Lando. Holy shit: this guy will fuck anything. (And I’m not referring to the pansexual thing – the dialogue within this movie alone is dripping with it). And with Donald Glover‘s affectionate parody… sure, why not? I mean, if we have to (which, really, we do not).

I won’t waste time on the different bits of fan service (this whole thing is Fan Service: The Movie) when I could instead talk about cinematographer Bradford Young’s painterly (and, in the context of a Star Wars movie, daringly low-key) lighting, or John Powell‘s score: wow – it ducks and weaves in and through John Williams’ iconic themes with grace, momentum and flair all its own. (Sidenote: the use of the Imperial March theme in the Imperial recruitment video is fun).

Meanwhile: is anyone else beginning to suspect Emilia Clarke can’t really act? She became famous playing a character who is a bad actor: Khaleesi’s whole thing is that she’s pretending to be queenly, and is fooling nobody. But Qi’ra is the femme fatale of this story, and while we’re told she’s done “things” in the intervening three years, Clarke doesn’t show or make us feel that Qi’ra possesses any darkness, any conflict, any… personality.

A better kind of dumb than a lot of other Star Wars movies.

Compare her chops to Woody Harrelson‘s: as a character, we know pretty much everything the movie will have to say about and with Beckett from the moment he’s introduced; and yet Harrelson still finds details and beats to explore, to keep him interesting, and to keep us at least interested, if not second-guessing. Perhaps a more direct and fair comparison is co-star Thandie Newton: 20 years ago she too was a British ingenue, who might have made a career as young pretty thing, but who instead chose to hone her craft. In her handful of scenes here, her face tells us volumes about her experience, the way she reads others, and why (kind of) she’d sacrifice herself the way she… no, really, that bit (like so many others here) really made no sense and was just dumb.

The only potentially interesting thing about this Solo movie idea: the prospect of a Lego Movie-style caper in the Star Wars universe. And now we’ll never know.

And this movie is dumb – though, in certain ways, a better kind of dumb than a lot of other Star Wars movies. Solo handles certain things that fellow “story” Rogue One doesn’t: character, tone, John Powell’s score once again, and fan service (I mean, if you have to – which, again, we do not – but if it’s going to happen, the bash-you-over-the-head-with-our-heavy-hands approach in Rogue One of including things for including things’ sake…)

… oh wait: Maul.

Ugh.

Just in case you were beginning to forget which universe this was set in. Just in case you forgot what this guy is: he’ll fire up his light saber. Why? What’s he gonna do, chop Emilia Clarke through the airwaves? Ughhh.

… oh and Alden Ehrenreich is fine here. He’s amazing in Hail, Caesar!, but then we all knew that, and this doesn’t change things.

I, like many others I’m sure, pine for the original Lord & Miller version of this movie. As a director, Ron Howard tells solid stories in unremarkable, indistinct ways. The only thing about this Solo movie idea that even had me interested was the prospect of a Lego Movie-style caper in the Star Wars universe. And now we’ll never know.

Here’s Wisecrack‘s breakdown of exactly why Fan Service: A Star Wars Story doesn’t actually hit any of its marks.