Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) Review

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It’s a Star Wars movie, so let’s analyze this to death, shall we? Because a Star Wars movie can’t be any old space adventure movie anymore. I can’t be regarded as just a colorful adventure movie like The Fifth Element or Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Any Star Wars product is carrying the baggage of a mountain of previous productions and the wrath of a million screaming and drooling fans. So, this movie has to engage with that reality from the very start, and how I wish it didn’t have to.

Solo: A Star Wars Story actually begins in a promising way. A young guy and girl, stuck in the underworld of a Blade Runner-like industrial city, wanting to escape that world. It looks cool and the story has a dramatic, romantic flair. But before soon, you’ll be getting reminders that this is set in the Star Wars universe… oh no. Han Solo is fighting in the trenches of some World War II on another planet but then it is the Empire from Star Wars. And then he ends up in prison, but oh no, there is a monster in the prison and it is a big talking yeti and Han talks Wookiee to him. And then, then there is some stupid, childish CGI character making lame comments like “I don’t care what anyone says, I’m starting to like this kid”, before rambling on about nonsense. Then the full realization kicks in: we’re in a Star Wars movie. Oh. How disappointing.

Young Han Solo then enters a couple of long action scenes, but since they felt rather meaningless – not advancing the story or the emotional exploration of the characters – I started noticing other stuff that began to annoy me. For instance, there is this ruffled old CGI chimpanzee who talks too much, and the voice actor had this squeaky clean voice that didn’t match the look of the character.

Another thing that bothered me was how wobbly the camera was, all the time. I did this totally scientific investigation of this shot of Han just talking, and drew a line around his head to track its location on the screen. His head wobbled a few times per second, slightly nauseating me.

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Luckily, the first annoying CGI character quickly dies, but an even more annoying robot takes its place. Now we have robot going on about social justice and this one also has a very annoying voice. Because social justice issues for robots is exactly what I want to be confronted with in a Star Wars movie. This movie is really not the time and place for social commentary that would be in any way interesting or constructive. Dragging identity politics into Star Wars will not deepen any discussion. It will only chew over the same old, tired ideas that we have seen in so many movies and TV shows. In Star Trek there is a subplot about justice for holograms. In Harry Potter there is a subplot about justice for elves. And now Star Wars barges in with a justice for robots theme. None of these plotlines have ever made anyone think: “now that is an interesting take on the issue”. No. It is all ham-fisted, transparent and tiresome.

The story itself makes more sense than Star Wars: The last Jedi, but is frantic. There’s a constant flashing of lights, camera cuts, running and screaming, while we move around different planets that all got mentioned at one time or another in the original trilogy in throwaway lines: Corellia, Kessel. But it all feels so meaningless. A film full of brave last stands, rebellions, uprisings… whatever. I was greatly relieved when the second CGI character also died so I didn’t have to listen to her annoying voice anymore.

What should really have happened to make this all more engaging was to deepen out the relationship between Han and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). All that nonsense around it about justice and rebellion felt incredibly cheap. A lot of twisting and turning of plot that no-one really cares about. But hey, it’s Star Wars so has to have a rebellion somewhere, right? That’s how Disney is thinking. In the end, the film isn’t terrible. I liked seeing Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany and Donald Glover act, Ehrenreich was ok as young Han, but it all felt so uninspired at the same time.

5/10

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