Solo: A Star Wars Story

Since I missed the press screening of Solo, I headed over to the Reading Town Square to see it with the hardcore fans on opening night. A few were dressed in costumes (I’m so glad I wasn’t sitting behind the tall wookie). They would hoot and holler every time something appeared on screen that was familiar to them. A few times it warranted that enthusiasm, often times, it didn’t. In fact, it felt like a weird checklist of things that director Ron Howard gave us. How did Han get that last name? Oh, so that’s how. What about the Millenium Falcon? Ah, a card game. How did he meet that wookie? Yep, it’s there, too. Yet all of these things thrown together don’t necessarily make for the most cohesive film. It’s just a bunch of self-referencing that got annoying by the end of it all.

I was happy with the casting of Alden Ehrenreich as the young Han Solo. He’s one of the few things I liked about Hail Caesar! A few critics have complained that this younger version doesn’t show the sexy swagger or depth Ford brought to the role. Well…he’s a young kid that’s still wet behind the ears. I mean…think about George Clooney now, versus when he was on the Roseanne show 20 years ago. He may have been good looking back then, but he wasn’t THE George Clooney; but there’s something wrong when he’s my fourth favorite character in his own film (behind Danny Glover’s fun turn as Lando Calrissian, Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra, and Chewbacca).

As for Woody Harrelson being in this, I have to ask — does he have to be in every movie made? I’m getting tired of his voice and expressions always being the same, and in so many movies. I loved him in The Messenger, and he was an interesting character in Three Billboards. But he was in the last Planet of the Apes, and in the last few years, he’s been in: Hunger Games trilogy, Now You See Me, LBJ, The Glass Castle, The Edge of Seventeen, Now You See Me 2, Wilson, Lost in London, and Triple 9. Enough Woody for awhile, Hollywood.

Paul Bettany plays Dryden Vos, a bad guy who has motivations that aren’t exactly clear, but he’s evil enough to be interesting.

Jon Favreau does the voice of an interesting creature, and the creatures in this are all fascinating, as are the set-pieces.

It was nice to see Clint Howard make it back into the cameos of his brother’s movies. I chuckled more at the fact that his line about “having no business being here” was almost the same as his cameo line in Parenthood.

Fun Fact: In 1998, Clint Howard won the “Lifetime achievement award” from the MTV movie awards. The year before, Chewbacca won it.

We get a John Williams score which is always a treat, and the cinematography is terrific.

At 2 ½ hours long, this is the first Star Wars movie (including those disappointing prequels), that I recall actually being bored for long stretches. It made me wonder if people are really going to want to see a Star Wars movie each year. Really, are these the type of origin stories we’re going to get just to make money and sell merchandise? I heard that a Boba Fett film is in the making. After watching this, I have to wonder…how is that going to be interesting?

So when people ask what I thought of Solo...I’ll say it was so-so.

2 ½ stars out of 5.