The following is a brief review of the Star Wars movie Solo.
The movie Solo traces the life of Han Solo as he grows from a plucky Aladdin-esque street orphan into a cocky pilot. It’s hard to deviate from prior established movies which confirm that Solo (1) has a close bond with Chewbacca, (2) wins the Millennium Falcon from Lando, and (3) does a lightning quick flight from Kessel – however, this movie has a lot of latitude in determining how to accomplish these end goals, and does an admirable job in satisfying these three plot points.
With regards to the Solo-Chewie relationship, I was actually a little disappointed in how this played out — in the books, I vaguely remember that Solo sacrifices his career as a promising Imperial pilot to rescue Chewie, which seems more meaningful than the events of this movie, where Han helps Chewie break out in an act of mutual self-interest. One of the most poignant moments in The Force Awakens was to see Chewie’s loss when Han is murdered — it’s hard to justify that this movie did a good job in formulating a good foundation for such a strong relationship.
Although I didn’t like the plot arc for setting up Chewie and Han, I thought the arc introducing Han to Lando was fantastic. The pressure-cooker setting of Kessel does a great job in showing us how both characters work under duress. I wish the movies took a closer look at Kessel since this is such a famous place, but perhaps that is yet to come.
The last plot point that I personally loved was the process by which Han wins the Millennium Falcon — this ship is epic by any available measuring stick, and I thought it was awesome to see the sabacc games which led to ownership, as well as the sacrifice of Lando’s droid which led to her integration into the Falcon. Great stuff.
Although Solo had a large cast of supporting characters, I personally didn’t feel that many of these folks were that memorable. I felt that the movie tried to establish Beckett as a mentor-like character, but honestly, I think the main characteristics that Solo demonstrates (ingenuity, empathy, and his tendency to shoot first) are well established prior to Beckett’s arrival. I did love Lando’s L3 droid though (equal rights for droids!).
The Star Wars Universe has been one of the best set-pieces to grace the silver screen, and has plenty of books, TV shows, and comic books to shed light and expand on the the plot components. In this movie, I particularly liked twisting train set-piece in the snow-capped mountains, as well as the gritty streets of Corellia shown at the beginning of the movie. I also enjoyed seeing images of classic vehicles and artifacts from the movies, such as the Imperial probe droids, the AT-ST vehicles, and Han’s classic DL-44 blaster. Although I highly enjoyed these scenes, I think that some of the environments set in the books, notably the Kessel mines and their gruesome energy spiders from the 1994 title Jedi Search are far more memorable. I remember reading the aforementioned during high school, and it’s impressive that the title’s world-building was so memorable — I’m not sure that I’ll remember the setting of the movie Solo for a tenth of that time.
This movie had a lot going for it — the action was punchy, the pacing was great, and the plot was decent. The cinematography for this movie was quite good, especially during the swoop chases at the beginning of the film. There were a few amazing stylistic moments in this moving, but my two favorite ones were (1) when the protagonists are flying blind in the maelstrom and stumble across the giant ship-eating octopus and (2) when the protagonists head out of Kessel and see a giant Imperial Destroyer lurking in the shadows — both of those were amazing moments when seen on the theater.
As a dedicated Star Wars fan, this was a must-see, and I actually saw it twice in theaters. I do think that it was the weakest of the Star Wars titles that I’ve seen so far (since Force Awakens), mostly due to the rather slip-shod plot. Still, droid rights!