All right, the movie wasn’t terrible. I had my
severe doubts from the trailer, but what can I say? The Star Wars fandom deals with enough hyperbolic hate as it is, so now that I’ve seen the whole thing, I’m going to give Solo: A Star Wars Story the credit it’s due. I had fun. The characters had fun. Ron Howard, clearly, had fun.
[It’s been out for a while, but spoilers ahead.]
Let’s begin with the opening sequence. Han fidgeting and grumbling in the dark as he hot-wires a ship to get away from criminals on his heels – that feels like the perfect way to introduce a young Han Solo movie. On point, Ron Howard.
From there, we get answers to a lot of the questions we may have had about Han and his background:
(1) How he meets Chewie: The birth of true friendship.
(2) How he gets the Millennium Falcon: The line from Han about how he won it “fair and square” from Lando feels more pertinent now.
(3) How he got the name “Solo”: Stupid, totally stupid! I know I’m being petty, but I didn’t need to know that a random imperial officer gave him the name “Solo” because Han was by his lonely self in a spaceport. It’s obvious and literal and I hate it. Sue me. Let my fave characters have a cool name without a lame explanation.
As for Han himself, I enjoyed seeing a younger version of “the best pilot in the galaxy” as the hilarious, awkward, inexperienced young’un that he started out as. Sure, Han is swaggering, blustering, cocky, but he constantly fails in his over-the-top efforts, and I sort of adore him for that. His hot-wired ride gets stuck. His bluffs get called out nonstop. He’s left behind by a ship several times. He’s a mess. Alden Ehrenreich did a good job playing the charming, go-lucky, inexperienced but endearing Han Solo in this younger narrative. He played Han his way, not Harrison Ford’s.
Throughout all his stumbling and failing, young Han is much more optimistic than I would have expected of him. Tobias Beckett and the other outlaws keep trying to ditch him when he tries to join their team and escape the Imperial Army, but he keeps insisting that they’re his friends. He seems so sincere, I couldn’t tell if he was being stubbornly positive or just plain dumb. Maybe both. Probably both. The boy does not know how to give up.
My main critique for this film is that new characters come in and out of the picture before we can care too much about them. Q’ira, for example. Before we even know her name, Han starts making out with her in the first two minutes of the movie. Uh, new romance, who dis??? Then fifteen minutes later they’re separated as he escapes the planet. So much for us getting to know her.
Anyway, once they’re separated, he vows to her that he will come back to find her no matter what. Three years, later he’s still struggling to return to her, and he’s even willing to take on a smuggling job with ruthless criminals to do so. I must admit, that is devotion. I can’t even remember my prom date’s name from high school. (Just kidding, Dylan. Or is it Darian? Oh well.)
Of course, we do see Q’ira again later. When Han goes on a job with Tobias to get coaxium for Scar-face Paul Bettany, and then, surprise! She’s one of Scar-face’s goonies. Q’ira was interesting in that I never felt confident about where her allegiance was. Does she truly love Han? Does she care more about Scar-face? Does she have a different agenda altogether? She never felt evil, per se, but definitely like she always had something strange bubbling underneath the surface.
I also thought Q’ira was a fascinating contrast to Leia. When she meets Han, Leia insists that he is a scoundrel who cares about no one (a front Han that obviously likes to put up). But Q’ira insists the opposite. Han is trying his darndest to be a badass outlaw, but Q’ira essentially shakes her head and says, “Hun, you’re a good boy.” Adult smuggler Han would shudder at the thought. But after three years of fighting in the Imperial Army and then diving headfirst into the underground world just to get back to his childhood sweetheart, and THEN turning his back on a “good deal” and “good money” to instead help the beginnings of the Rebellion – I have to say that Q’ira has a point. Han, you’ve ALWAYS been a goodie two shoes. You’ve been called out, son.
I truly think if Leia actually met him at this point, she would have seen right away that he’s one of the “nice guys” she claims to prefer in The Empire Strikes Back. But that’s a conversation for later… Or perhaps an AU fanfiction? Food for thought.
As for the outlaws, several of them die off before you can remember their names. Goodbye, six-armed sloth! Goodbye, Woody Harrelson’s girlfriend! Then Lando! Ugh, Lando. He was perfect. And Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett was cool. It was fun to see him outsmart Han who then outsmarts Tobias who then outsmarts Han, until in the standoff to meet all standoffs… Han. Shot. First. It was shameless fan service, but I am here for it. Also, the fact that I understood the little Easter egg about Tobias having killed bounty hunter Aurra Sing made me feel like my entrance to the Star Was fandom was complete.
Anyway, those are my many thoughts on the Solo movie. Not quite the buzz that The Last Jedi was, but at least it’s not as controversial. Let us enjoy it in peace.