Solo (2018) – the non-spoiler review

My gut reaction immediately after the movie was that of annoyance above all else, but that was going into it with some subconscious bias about it given that the movie continues to flop worldwide and has had a lot of mixed reviews. I wanted to give it some time before writing about it to see if my opinion would change after it settled in my brain.

The answer? Kinda.

I never saw Episode III because the degree of loathing I had for Episode II was so high that I was done with the whole franchise. Given that perspective, Solo was still annoying, yes, but it was also mostly fine and doesn’t turn me off of the franchise or the idea of exploring other Star Wars characters (even though Disney has announced that this other star wars spinoffs are now on hold). Given the troubled production, I’d say that Ron Howard did the best that he could, especially because i heard that he did it for practically no pay after Lord and Miller left.

The biggest success of the movie was the train sequence. And i thought that all of the characters acted their part pretty well, even not-Harrison-Ford-Han-Solo.

The biggest annoyances of the movie were, well, everything else, but I think that what bothered me the most in the end was that all of the Star Wars-ness of the movie was immensely distracting and took me out of the movie more than pulled me in – a drastic contrast to the excellent Rogue One. I found myself thinking that the movie would have sat better with me if it was new IP instead of Star Wars because all of the easter egg references to the original trilogy felt more like a nostalgia pull rather than something that would naturally occur over the course of the events of the film. That’s always a fine line to cross, but in general I tend to think that such things fail more than they succeed – lines like “Come with me if you want to live” and “I’ll be back” were incredibly iconic in the early Terminator films and will live in infamy until the end of time, but even if Genisys was a critical success, who is going to consider the reuse of those lines in that movie to be just as iconic or even appropriate?

Trying to force-feed that sort of iconicism down the audiences’ throat is where Solo ultimately fails. The trailer itself tried to tug on that iconicism immediately by featuring Solo saying the line “I’ve got a really good feeling about this” as if to say, “We know you loved that line in the original trilogy, so here it is again, love this film!” Too much of the film was littered with those sort of metaphorical empty calories, and I think in the end that made me feel like i metaphorically didn’t eat anything of real substance while simultaneously making me feel metaphorically uncomfortably full.

I think this fails the Bechdel test? There were a few prominent female characters in the film, but I don’t think there was ever a point when they interacted with each other.

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