(No significant spoilers)
Full disclosure: 1) I don’t care for prequels. 2) I’m bored of the Star Wars series. 3) My main source of fiction reading is fan fiction.
I can still recall the summer of 1977 and sitting in a theater in the, then, small town of Kalispell, MT. I read these words to my five-year-old brother…”A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away…” Then I was blown away by the opening notes of the Star Wars theme.
There are times when I’m in a theater watching an action flick and I nearly re-experience that moment. Solo was not one of those times.
I haven’t seen a Star Wars movie since Episode One. It was such a bad film that it destroyed the entire franchise for me. This from a person who used to have Star Wars marathons on a regular basis and who had read nearly every Star Wars book. After Episode One, I swore off the franchise and my interest began to wane.
When I heard they were making Episode Seven, I had great hopes. I loved the post Episode Six books, beginning with the book that introduced me to my current favorite SciFi author, Timothy Zahn. I waited with zero-contained enthusiasm for each of his Star Wars installments. Then I learned the franchise had chucked that canon for an entirely new one.
When my kids came home from the last one they told me I would have hated it. Hearing what I have from others since then, they were probably right.
So, why the hell did I see Solo, and on vacation no less?
Simple, Ron Howard directed it.
That’s really all it took. One director that I fully trusted. And, for his sake, I will be kind in my review.
Thanks to Ron Howard, Solo isn’t entirely disappointing. But, it still didn’t give me that thrill most action flicks do.
One problem, of course, is that it’s a prequel. It’s making an attempt to go back and fill in the blanks. Which is not a problem, goodness knows fan fiction does this all the time, and in a fairly decent manner. For me, though, watching a prequel is like reading a book for which you already, for some reason, read the last chapter. You know exactly where it’s headed so it had better be top notch to keep you interested. Solo doesn’t quite achieve this for me.
There are times when the movie lags and a lot of times when the story parts feel forced. It kills a lot of a person’s preconceived darlings about Solo’s story, even if it’s been nearly 30 years since you’ve read the original Solo series and can’t even remember it. And it makes a lot of assumptions about the viewer’s knowledge, like a good fan fic, but this is a movie that people got paid millions of dollars to create, so excuse me for expecting more.
I did really like the relationship development between Han and Chewy. I liked the meeting between Han and Lando and watching Han win the Falcon. I liked the beginning of the rebellion. I liked the twists and turns the plot took, even if it was in mostly predictable ways. But I loved the Kessel scenes.
The Kessel run made the entire movie better than it would have been. Though it was another obvious “fill in the blank” fan fiction moment, it was executed perfectly. And, as soon as Chewy sat in the co-pilot seat, I began to really get invested in the storyline. After that, it really was nearly everything I used to like about a Star Wars movie.
The franchise has major problems. The people running it are control-freak lunatics who ruin the acting abilities of even Academy Award winning actors, and who seem to be on a “This sold our last movie so let’s do it again” streak, but Ron Howard appears to have deftly handled them. (Though I would not have wanted to be in any of the meetings. I can’t even imagine.) Whatever it was that he did, the franchise should allow more of it. But I don’t hold out any new hopes. 😉