Warning: Spoilers for the Solo film appear ahead. I strongly recommend that you wait and see the movie on your own terms before reading; however, if you have no plans to see it, or if you’re still on the fence, feel free to continue.
The acting was solid. The dialogue was sharp. The humor was there. The setting felt like Star Wars.
But then why does it feel like this wasn’t something that we really needed? Rogue One brought a whole new dimension to Star Wars by showing us the creation of the Death Star, the most legendary weapon in the Star Wars saga. There was a story to tell there, and helped explain how an inexperienced pilot by the name of Luke Skywalker was able to suddenly take down such a massive weapon with a single shot.
But aside from how Han got the Falcon and how he befriended Chewie, this Star Wars film doesn’t do much to flesh out the universe beyond what we already know. There are new crime rings and gangsters that we haven’t been exposed to before, but that’s nothing new, and we’ve always known that those existed in the Star Wars universe and that Han ran in those circles.
The film also addresses how it’s title character gets his name: an Imperial officer dubs him “Solo” when he says that his name is Han and that he’s alone. But that’s it. That’s the story of how he becomes Han Solo. It seems painfully forced, especially considering Han Solo seems like a perfectly viable Star Wars name to begin with. A backstory for how he got his last name wasn’t really asked for, or needed, considering that has been his established name all along.
Speaking of painfully forced, the romance between Han and Qi’ra felt unnecessary and unneeded. It goes without saying that Han has probably had other love interests before he met Leia, but it felt forced to watch it being played out on screen. The only point Qi’ra really serves in the film (besides adding a female figure to round out the numbers) is to connect Han to Lando, and to connect the film to the Star Wars film as a whole by bringing in a sneak peek of a familiar Star Wars villain.
No, not Boba Fett.
Darth Maul being in an insidious crime lord isn’t all that surprising and does help to explain what he’s doing with his time before his untimely demise in Rebels to a retired Obi-Wan Kenobi. He only appears briefly in a hologram so he doesn’t play a significant role, but the film does seem to set up for a potential sequel as Han and Chewie head out in the Falcon to get to Tatooine to meet a more notorious gangster, presumably Jabba the Hutt.
At the end of the day, the big bad of this chapter is defeated, but the film leaves you with the distinct sense that there’s more to come with Qi’ra working for Darth Maul and Han and Chewie heading off to see Jabba. It’s the kind of film that feels like a part one, but do we really need a part two?
Alden Ehrenreich is not a terrible Han Solo. He brings something different to the character, but at the same time, it’s still very clear that you are watching a different Han Solo. At least Chewbacca felt a bit more familiar, played again by Joonas Suotamo, who has taken over the role from Peter Mayhew. Another movie would feel too much like they were trying to rewrite the character of Han Solo, trying to connect us to a younger part of him that we don’t really need to see. There is a clear distinction between the youthful enthusiasm Alden brings to the role and Ford’s familiar gruff. One film isn’t enough to jar the connection between the two, especially if you haven’t watched The Empire Strikes Back in a while, but continued films may push the connection to its breaking point.
There’s also the issue of Darth Maul. When I first watched The Phantom Menace, I loved Darth Maul. Ray Park is partially what got me interested in parkour and martial arts to begin with. He reprises his role here, but they use Sam Witwer’s voice (the voice of Maul in Clone Wars and Rebels) giving Maul the most film dialogue he’s had, well, ever, considering he doesn’t really speak in The Phantom Menace. At first I was ecstatic when Dave Filoni brought him back to life in Clone Wars, but considering everywhere he seems to be popping up, it feels like his character may be starting to become a bit overdone.
And if Darth Maul has been overdone, one character that has been kept in the background for far too long is Lando Calrissian. Despite having a sizeable role in the last two films of the original trilogy, he has been completely absent from the sequel trilogy, without even a mention of his name to allude to his current whereabouts. While Donald Glover’s performance as the “ol’ smoothie” felt like a fitting tribute to the familiar character, it seems that his performance may have won over one person in particular. When asked about the future of the Star Wars franchise, Kathleen Kennedy zeroed in on Lando in particular.
“We think that the next spin-off will be dedicated to Lando Calrissian. Of course, there are still many stories to tell about Han and Chewbacca, but Lando will be next.”
Regardless, we’ll see what the Disney machine has in store for the future of the franchise. Despite director changes and talk of a troubled script, Solo is expected to perform decently at the box office, and Kathleen Kennedy has said that future sequels will depend on fan reactions and, of course, how well it performs at the box office. It’s not going to be anywhere near the likes of The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi, but I predict that it will fall a bit short of Rogue One, which opened at $155 million in its first weekend.
While Disney is hoping to draw in old fans of the franchise with a modern take on the popular character’s backstory, many are still concerned that Disney is taking the magic out of the franchise. The infamous Kessel Run is something that is frequently alluded to, an inside joke among fans, and watching it play out on screen takes the magic and the mystery out of the event. Disney is a corporation, first and foremost, and it makes sense that they’ll continue to make movies that they think people want to watch. It’s why we’re getting an Obi-Wan Kenobi film, presumably in 2020.
But when they start talking about making a film about Yoda’s backstory or how the Skywalkers originally got their name, do you think we can all agree that they’re taking it a bit too far?