Solo: A Star Wars Story
When I decided to write this column on the latest installment in the Star Wars universe; Solo: A Star Wars Story, I went in wanting to do a straight movie review. That didn’t happen for one simple reason. The movie is getting unfairly savaged with outsized expectations, and I am here to defend it. In the interest of full disclosure; yes, I am a huge Star Wars fan. Even the “bad” movies I can watch over and over again. The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and The Last Jedi, I think is safe to say are the generally accepted least favorite of the entire Star Wars Universe (SWU). Each of those movies made upwards of $300 million in domestic gross, but none were considered masterpieces. In the case of “Phantom” and “Attack”, Director George Lucas did irreparable harm to his legacy as the creator and steward of Star Wars. This was less so with The Last Jedi. Lucas had long stopped directing these movies by this time, but the level of disappointment fans had with it were nearly as bad as the aforementioned titles. For all the economic success of these films, there can be no denying the witless characters, unimaginative narration and emotionally vapid acting, and the bad effect they had on the whole SWU. This is not what we have in Solo. While it isn’t my favorite of all the choices, it is as different a film as Star Wars: Rouge One was. There is a different tone and feel to it. Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo leads an enjoyable and engaging cast. In fact, the actors were all good and spot on throughout the entire cast. Perhaps the best choice was none other than Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. Glover gives life to Lando and fleshes out what we learned about him from his appearance in The Empire Strikes Back during the original trilogy. He’s a gambler and conniving character who deep down does have a heart of gold and tries to do the right thing. We also get the chance to see how Han and Chewbacca met in a humorous fashion. While Solo isn’t heavily steeped in the usual Star Wars mythos (the Force, Death Star, Light Sabers), it still successfully manages to capture the heart and essence that makes Star Wars what it is while maintaining its own distinct flair. That is why I have such an issue with the level of criticism it is receiving. Creatively and fiscally, pundits and critics alike are asking “what happened?” What happened is that the movie made $100 million dollars so far on this opening Memorial Day weekend. Sure, there were some reports that it was projected to do $130 million dollars and obviously fell well short. I think that is the problem. It is unrealistic to think that every movie is going to constantly beat expectations. People see that a movie has “Star Wars” in the title and think blockbuster hit every single time. That is just not going to happen with the volume of material released including movies, television shows, cartoons, books and comics. Proclaiming that it will do $150 million on its opening weekend is plain simply naïve and I am sure a huge amount of wishful thinking. What can be expected is for fans to enjoy seeing a new take on some old favorites. If you go in with the mindset that you just want to see a good movie with some nice acting and enticing special effects, that is what you get with Solo…. along with one unexpectedly amazing cameo that is sure to have fans talking that I won’t ruin for you here. Be open-minded going in and embrace a slightly different Star Wars experience than you are used to. What you have is a solid hit that tells a good story that introduces the back story one of the most important characters in the whole SWU with some swashbuckling, smart alecky Han Solo style fun.