Solo: A Star Wars Story
Solo: A Star Wars Story is a 2018 American space Western film, directed by Ron Howard, and it acts as a prequel to A New Hope. It was produced by Lucasfilm Ltd. The film had its world premiere on May 10, 2018 at the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles, and was released in the United States on May 25, 2018.
In the year 10 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin) young Han Solo finds adventure when he joins a gang of galactic smugglers, including a 190-year-old Wookiee named Chewbacca. Indebted to the gangster Dryden Vos, the crew devises a daring plan to travel to the mining planet Kessel to steal a batch of valuable coaxium. In need of a fast ship, Solo meets Lando Calrissian, the suave owner of the perfect vessel for the dangerous mission - the Millennium Falcon.
- Executive meddling: The movie went through development hell with the original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and the original editor Chris Dickens getting fired and the movie being pulled back in for reshoots when it was already 75% complete (with the reshoots amounting to some 70% of the film's final runtime), and re-cut from a light-hearted comedy into...well, they say it's a western, but it's unclear what it actually is. It is believed that Disney refused Lucasfilm's request to shift the release date of Solo to December to allow more time for reshoots.
- The news that Alden Ehrenreich was forced to have acting lessons after Lucasfilm saw his initial performance did not exactly fill fans with confidence. To quite a few viewers, he came across as a kid pretending to be Han rather than the man himself.
- There's little in the way of character development.
- Poor pacing; everything happens way too quickly.
- The movie's narrative is rather unstructured; the events don't really go well together, just jumping from one action setpiece to another.
- The overall outline is that Han acquired everything he had in the main films through either blind luck or someone handing it to him, which is an example of bad character writing.
- Some of the plot points either explain things that do not need explanations (for example, revealing how Han got his surname) or provide the same "explanation" we already had (Chewie's nickname is a nickname, the Millennium Falcon is that fast because it is that fast and got its distinctive name because it has always been called that).
- The movie commits the error of treating objects that are iconic outside the film as being equally iconic within its world: the Falcon is treated as important even though it is just a mass-produced freighter that Han admits he has seen many of already, and Han getting his blaster is treated as an important moment even though that blaster was actually the standard Rebel sidearm in previous films (for example, Luke pulled one on Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back).
- There is an obvious missing scene that results in Han betting Lando on a ship in a Sabacc game, even though at this point he does not have a ship to bet. He then loses the game and through the plot, contrivance ends up getting the Falcon anyway, with Lando not questioning where the ship Han owes him is. There's a clearly dubbed-on line from Han about how the ship he bet is "in the shop", presumably so that the audience will think that he was just bluffing about the ship, but this just opens up another plot hole as to why Lando would trust someone who so transparently lied to him.
- Ironically, this plot point actually would have worked to show how like Han and Lando are, with Han betting a non-existent ship and Lando betting the Millennium Falcon despite the ship currently being impounded if they had actually been going for that comparison from the start instead of it being something pieced together during reshoots.
- The film is mostly supposed to show the Falcon making the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs, but fumbles this, because the method shown, has nothing to do with the Falcon being fast, and also forgets to explain why Han is suddenly an ace pilot in this scene.
- One major plot point concerns robbing the kind of train that runs on rails, which feels out-of-place in a fictional universe full of repulsor craft so cheap even Luke Skywalker, a podunk farmboy, owns two of them.
- The ending's big reveal is... a cybernetically-enhanced Darth Maul, presumably as a setup for an Obi-Wan anthology film. The reveal is somewhat dampened by him dramatically standing up and turning on his twin-bladed lightsaber, just to turn it off again. This comes across as being done for the sake of the audience rather than because it makes any sense for him to do it in the scene itself. In addition, having Darth Maul in the movie is also very confusing for those who haven't seen the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, because one should not have to go outside of work to understand it.
- Late on, the apparent secondary villain, Enfys Nest removes her mask. The scene is shot like it's supposed to be some kind of dramatic unmasking, but nothing of importance ever comes of it. Either Nest's true identity was meant to have more significance in the original cut of the movie, or the surprise was just supposed to be the fact that she's female, even though this was an extremely cliched twist by 2018.
- The main villain, Dryden Vos, was supposed to be a CGI cougar-man played by Michael K. Williams, but during reshoots, this was changed to him just being "some guy with a scarred face" played by Paul Bettany, as Williams was busy filming The Red Sea Diving Resort and could not return for the reshoots. As a result of this, Vos gets very little screentime and is honestly a very weak villain.
- It contradicts existing material; for example, it shows Chewie randomly putting on an ammo belt to explain his wearing of an ammo belt, even though he was already shown wearing it in Revenge of the Sith.
- Qi'ra is a very bland, uninteresting, and pointless love interest of Han Solo. Considering the size of the Star Wars galaxy, her just happening to bump into Han at a random party years later feels ludicrously contrived.
- It retroactively messes up the already-hated scene in The Last Jedi where Luke hands Leia the golden dice from the Millennium Falcon because the backstory given to the dice means Luke is handing Han Solo's widow a pair of dice Han kept lying around his ship to remind him of an ex-girlfriend, though the dice could have been just a symbol of good luck.
- The film provides a ludicrous and somewhat cringe-worthy origin of Han Solo's surname: he got it from an Imperial officer who thought of it at the top of his head and gave it to Han. Never mind why a surname would be required to enroll in the Imperial navy, seeing how we've seen many beings in the Star Wars universe who have only a single name.
- Really poor cinematography; scenes are frequently too dark and washed out, and the color wash makes everything look drab and flat.
- Bad release date: It was released less than a month after Avengers: Infinity War (another movie distributed by Disney) and a week after 20th Century Fox's Deadpool 2, causing this movie to underperform at the box office.
- Some of the acting is good, for example:
- Donald Glover does a good job as Lando Calrissian.
- L3 is a very likeable character with a super funny personality. Heck, she might be the droid with the most character and style in all of Star Wars, annd her death was very emotional too, although somewhat pointless.
- Very epic and well-done soundtrack that was performed by John Powell, with a few themes composed by John Williams.
- The costume design is at least very faithful to the original trilogy.
- Despite the bad cinematography, the special effects aren't too bad at all.
- Some of the action sequences are pretty cool from here to there.
- The scene in which Han is given his iconic surname, despite being cringe-worthy as mentioned above, is surprising as well, given that no one would have expected that reveal.
- The movie admits that Han did in fact shoot first.
- The idea of a Star Wars movie focusing more on the criminal underworld instead of being the typical "Empire vs. Rebellion" story is interesting.
- Similar to the 2017 live action Death Note film, the idea of a western set in the Star Wars universe is a great idea, but it was poorly executed, though it would be done well with The Mandalorian a year later.
- While it can very confusing to audiences, there is a pretty cool cameo from Darth Maul.
- Decent direction by Ron Howard.
Solo: A Star Wars Story received fairly indifferent reviews from critics who praised the film's cast (particularly Ehrenreich and Glover), visuals, musical score, and action sequences, while some criticized its storyline, some of its cinematography and screenplay. On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, Solo has an approval rating of 70% based on 478 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A flawed yet fun and fast-paced space adventure, Solo: A Star Wars Story should satisfy newcomers to the saga as well as longtime fans who check their expectations at the theater door.". On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 62 out of 100, based on 54 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported that 89% of filmgoers gave it positive score, with 73% saying they would recommend it.
- According to MatPat from Film Theory, L-337 was the one who drives the Millennium Falcon, causing the Star Wars franchise to go down.
It was released right after the mega-hit Avengers: Infinity War (another movie distributed by Disney) and alongside 20th Century Fox's Deadpool 2, and because of that many movie-goers ignored Solo in favor of those two movies. Many also stated that the film's marketing didn't do much to build hype either. As a result of these factors and the lukewarm critical reception, the movie was a massive box office disappointment and the first Star Wars film to make a box office loss, with estimated losses of $50-80 million. A large number of mainstream audiences dismissed Solo as "filler" or a story that didn't need to be told.
The film's financial failure was reported to have caused the indefinite suspension of the entire Stories film line, though Lucasfilm later denied this. The Hollywood Reporter quoted an insider source as saying "They haven’t slowed down development but they are licking their wounds. It doesn’t mean those spinoffs don’t happen. It just means they’re trying to figure out how to make, and market, them differently." A Stories entry based around the Mos Eisley spaceport is known to have been canceled. In June 2018, in response to the film's poor commercial performance, director Ron Howard tweeted he was proud of the film, and sorry that fans were not turning out to see it, but was happy for those who had enjoyed it. The following year, Howard stated that online trolls were partially to blame for the film's underwhelming box-office performance.
It is believed that Disney intends to focus on developing films one at a time and shift towards "proven" directors after a string of problems with up-and-coming directors on Star Wars projects. Disney has hired and then fired Josh Trank (rumored to be working on a film centered around Boba Fett until the failure of the 2015 version of Fantastic Four and his behind-the-scenes antics; the film was canceled and some of its ideas were used in The Mandalorian), Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Solo, replaced by Ron Howard) and Colin Trevorrow (The Rise of Skywalker (originally Duel of the Fates), replaced by J.J. Abrams), as well as hiring Tony Gilroy to rework Rogue One after being dissatisfied with Gareth Edwards' gritty war story version.
After the teaser poster is released, it was discovered that the film's heavily resembled a series of "Legacy Recording" album covers created by French artist Hachim Bahous in 2016.