Solo: A Star Wars Story, had a crazy production history, and the resulting film and its relative financial failure was enough to inspire LucasFilm to put a hold on any future Star Wars universe spin-offs, but was it really that bad?
Andrew Mack reviewed the film for us and gives a pretty solid synopsis of the film here:
Han lives an Oliver Twist-like existence on Corellia 8, stealing and scavenging for a local ganglord to eke out a meager existence. Together with love interest Qi’ra, he yearns for a way to get off planet and start a new life. After double-crossing the ganglord Han and Qi’ra get separated at a security check-in and Han joins the Imperial Navy to evade capture.
Three years later, Han is now part of the ground forces, his rebellious spirit getting him kicked out of the Navy, and doing him no favors on the ground either. He runs into Tobias Beckett and his crew on the battlefield and Han immediately recognizes them for gangsters impersonating Imperial soldiers. Seizing the opportunity to convince them to take him into the gang Han joins them on their next job, robbing an Imperial supply train of the universe’s most precious commodity, Hydrofuel.
Thus begins Han’s career as a smuggler, scoundrel and eventually the reluctant hero. When that first job goes wrong Solo and Beckett find themselves indebted to crime boss Dryden Vos. To pay back what they owe Solo suggests that they go to the source of Hydrofuel, the mining planet Kessel, and bring back the fuel in its unrefined form. Thing is, this raw form is highly volatile and explodes when it reaches a certain temperature. Hence, the gang has to get out of Kessel faster than usual. See what screenwriters Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan did there? Solo: A Star Wars Story is a tale with twists and turns, a story of betrayed loyalties, of events that begin to form the character that we have come to love since his first appearance in Episode IV.
Yeah, that’s a lot of synopsis, but a lot happens in this film. The resulting feature is a bit uneven, and didn’t entirely land or provide the same kind of adrenaline fueled excitement that JJ Abrams’ The Force Awakens did, but it’s a perfectly competent science-fiction action film. The film does deliver some really impressive outer space action, and there are also the requisite neat looking alien worlds and their residents, but for whatever reason the film feels little more than adequate in terms of story.
Mack had similar feelings:
There is less of a sense of grandeur and scale in this Star Wars film than any other chapter before it. We wondered and pondered on how a Dirty Dozen style Star Wars film would work in Rogue One and it worked pretty damn good. Now we are looking at a Western style Star Wars and does it work? Not as well. When every film leading up to Solo, despite their faults, are at the very least ambitious and grand in their story telling, Solo feels like a bit of a letdown. Even a surprise character return at the end of film does not resurrect Solo from the dullness.
I liked it, though, and my kid loved it. Far from a franchise destroying disappointment, Solo is perfectly fine. Nothing more.
Solo looks and sounds spectacular on Blu-ray, so if you’re looking to give your home theater a workout, this is a solid choice.
LucasFilm also hasn’t skimped on the extras. I spent a couple of hours exploring the various featurettes on every element of the film from the design of the Millennium Falcon, the introduction of a new droid character, the writing team of veteran Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan Kasdan, as well as looks into the Kessel Run, young Chewbacca, and a lot more. One of the longest featurettes is a very self-congratulatory director and cast roundtable led by Ron Howard that is lovely if you want to watch them all pat themselves on the back for a while, but isn’t much more than that. One thing that is conspicuous by its absence is the lack of evidence that original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street) were ever involved. They left the project and were replaced, but a lot of the film was already in progress when it happened, so it seems that erasing them from the story of the film’s production is a bit sketchy. Oh well.
If you liked the film, this is a great presentation. If you haven’t seen it yet, it feels very Star Wars-y and will likely scratch a lot of the itches you want it to.