Solo – The Movie We Didn’t Know we Needed

WARNING – This will be a SPOILER FILLED review!

Solo: A Star Wars Story came out this past weekend and the response has been – predictable. As has been the case with Star Wars movies lately the fan base is sharply divided. All cards on the table, I really enjoyed this movie. My initial tweet on it was “Solo is the Star Wars movie we didn’t know we needed.” That opinion has not changed. Before we continue, consider this your obligatory spoiler warning. There will be many.

So, why did I like Solo so much? It was fun, it keep moving at a high pace, kept me on the edge of my seat and delivered much more than I was expecting. It did all that while showing us a corner of the Star Wars universe that has been little explored, the criminal underworld. We’ve always gotten glimpses but we’ve never spent a whole film with outlaws being outlaws. We saw that there are places that no one wants to go, that the street children on Corellia are exploited by unsavory elements, just like on our world. We learned from Qi’ra that there are even worse places one can end up and those places can change you into something horrible. We saw the kinds of soul-crushing betrayals that we haven’t seen since Empire.

Near the beginning we are also treated to a glimpse of what I hoped to see in Rogue One – what a war is like on the front lines in Star Wars. That little glimpse, seeing Han run and duck into a crater, gave me what I wanted out of Rogue One and showed the missed potential of that film.

Perhaps most importantly, Solo also showed us a time and place devoid of Jedi. Yes, they are still out there, but not in this story. Not on Kessel, or Corellia, or anywhere else.

Director Ron Howard didn’t just give us plot points though. He also treated viewers to some top-shelf character development. Beckett at the beginning is somewhat similar to Han, he talks a big game but has a heart nonetheless, a heart that hardens with the death of Val at the beginning. As just stated, Han really is the good guy but by the end becomes the hardened cynic we met at the beginning of A New Hope. If not for his friendship with Chewie, he probably would have become like Beckett was at the end, or worse.

Ah, Chewie. Finally, a movie actually gives him some of the spotlight, a spotlight one of the original characters has long deserved. In Solo, Chewbacca is more than a walking carpet or co-pilot. He is a real person, a person with goals and desires apart from Han. The way they meet and the way their friendship develops is probably the best part of the movie.

But it’s different than in Legends! True. And I get the attachment to the old stories. I read most of them, even the Young Jedi books. However, once Disney decided they wouldn’t be canon, I mentally detached. Not because I didn’t like the stories and characters but because there was no point being upset about it. So instead of being upset that they altered the meeting a bit, I get to be happy that they kept the basic elements of it. Chewie was a slave and Han helped him escape. It also leaves me free to grin like a schoolboy when a random element from Legends is included, which is exactly what happened when the Maw was introduced.

I could go on and on about all the things I loved about this movie but I’m in danger of getting into repetitive territory. Lando was great, I loved the Falcon, and I thought Alden did an excellent job as Han, but everyone else has already said all of that.

Did I seen any faults? There were a few, but not that many. I actually thought the giant space squid was unnecessary. I would rather that the Star Destroyer had followed them to the Maw. To lose it, they could have put a Coaxium container in the escape pod and launched it at the Destroyer. It would of course blow up and knock the Destroyer into the Maw.

Enfys Nest is the other one. The way they treated her reveal like a big deal makes no sense to me. What makes even less sense is that what looks like a 15-year-old girl was beating up on Becket, while weighed down with all that gear. Unless she is a force user or has a Phasma like physique under all that fur, I find that difficult to believe. The idea that they are an early rebel group was also a little difficult. I don’t hate the idea, it just became a large new element that seemed to muddy the last act a bit.

What about the big reveal with Maul at the end? I am intrigued. That and his interaction with Qi’ra left me wanting a whole lot more. I hope they make the sequel because I really want to see what happen there and how Han is involved. The speculative side of me wonders if we might see the Ghost and Ahsoka in the next one.

To finish, I genuinely think that Ron Howard pulled off a minor miracle by delivering a fun movie that tells a story filled with plenty of what we expected but told in a way that shattered at least my own expectations. We were also given plenty that we didn’t expect, like Han fighting on the front lines of the war, L3 becoming part of the Falcon, the reveal of Maw and Qi’ra’s betrayal of Han. I can only hope that the box office is enough to justify a sequel so we can see what happens next.

Coming soon?