When Disney announced they were going to move forward full-thrusters with their Star Wars properties, it seemed like a fun idea — alternating the regular storylines with a side story each year. However, when Disney chose to put out Solo, the origin story of Han Solo, in the summer to compete with Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2, it turned out to be a mistake.
With the Marvel movie racing to the $2 billion mark and fans still loving the R-rated Deadpool movies, Solo seemed to fall short of expectations. That is a shame because Solo is yet another solid entry in the Star Wars franchise.
The same people who complained about Star Wars: The Last Jedi taking chances and creating something new and fresh will likely hate Solo as well. As you start this review, understand that I consider Last Jedi to be one of best Star Wars movies in the entire franchise, so if you disagree with that, you might disagree with my thoughts on Solo.
Solo starts off when Han was a teenager on Corellia, a kid who had to steal for a locally organized crime group to survive. His only goal was to get enough money to get him and his lover, Qi’ra, off the planet and somewhere that they could find their own destiny. He found that when he got some hyperspace fuel, and following a big chase after betraying the crime syndicate, he made it to the transport station to escape, where he used the hyperspace fuel to bribe his way through.
Han made it through but Qi’ra did not and he ended up joining the Imperial Navy as a pilot to escape the people chasing him, swearing he would one day return to save her.
That is how Han got his start. During this time, there were also Easter eggs showing how Han got the last name Solo given to him, what those dice meant, how he met Chewbacca and why he trusts no one.
After this, Solo becomes very similar to Rogue One. This is not a great space adventure movie like the mainline Star Wars films. This is a heist movie, with Han joining a group of thieves led by Tobias Beckett and trying to steal a huge amount of hyperspace fuel to help Tobias pay off his debt to the Crimson Dawn syndicate.
The rest of the movie sees Han reuniting with Qi’ra, meeting a scoundrel named Lando Calrissian, who happened to own a ship called the Millenium Falcon, and heading off on a huge mission to steal fuel and try to get it back to the Crimson Dawn before a rival gang called the Cloud-Riders show up to sabotage everything.
The entire premise of the movie was to show that Han Solo has always been a reluctant hero — but a hero nonetheless. It also showed how he became the character that we met in Star Wars: A New Hope and filled in a lot of the blanks in his past. Some fans won’t like that, but it is fun for anyone who just opens themselves up to enjoy it.
The mission itself is also a great deal of fun, similar to Rogue One, without all the sacrifices at the end of that first Star Wars Story movie. The end also opened things up for a sequel, although that is questionable with the lackluster turnout at the box office.
That is a shame.
Alden Ehrenreich was great as Han Solo, never trying to just mimic and pretend to be Harrison Ford but instead showing how Han might have been as a youngster. Emilia Clarke was also really good as Qi’ra, the love interest who was in a little too deep herself.
Woody Harrelson is always fun, here as the smuggler Tobias, and you can never go wrong with Donald Glover — who gave a perfect performance as Lando Calrissian. Paul Bettany was also fantastic as Dreyden Voss, rounding out a cast without a single bad performance.
The music by John Powell was also perfectly-Star Wars — mimicking the style of John Williams masterfully. The movie didn’t look great, but as a film that took place in the underbelly of the Empire, that actually makes sense.
There was also a surprise cameo at the end that ties Solo and the new Star Wars universe into two of the shows cartoons — The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels — proving that one or both of those cartoons are now canon in the movie world as well.
That opens up endless possibilities if fans will just give these new Star Wars movies the chance they deserve. Solo wasn’t a masterpiece but it was a worthy inclusion to the Star Wars franchise.