As promised, I wanted to write a movie review of the newest Star Wars movie: Solo. Same as with my last book review, this is one that the more I take it apart, the more flaws I see in it, and partially that is because I’ve been considering some things others have said. Generally, those “others” are more hardcore Star Wars fans than I.
Let’s be honest: as much as I love Star Wars, I was a Trekkie first, and you know how that love/hate relationship between the two fandoms goes. It’s my love for the Hero’s Journey that introduced me to the greatness of Star Wars, and while there are the basic elements of the Hero monomyth in this one, that’s not really what it was designed to be.
As such, I think hardcore fans will appreciate the subtle nods and Easter Eggs throughout, while people new to the franchise will like it if they are there for the action more than for the storyline. As far as a story that sets up who Han Solo will become by the time the original Star Wars IV: A New Hope begins, it fulfills its purpose. Meaning that Solo’s character arc is the most (and almost the only) one developed.
However, as someone on Twitter pointed out, the storyline by itself is kind of rubbish.
But the action is good, in my opinion, and even had me wringing my hands, twitching at the edge of my seat in suspense a couple of times.
The great thing about knowing the future of the main character is that I know the fates of several of the side characters won’t end well, or at best, they will fade off into some unknown part of the galaxy never to be seen again, and thus the chance of their demise is very real!
Before I get into Spoiler territory, let me go ahead and give it a rating. For those of you new to #JustAddTea, a lot of what we discuss here is directly related to relationships, so when I rate a movie, some of the rating is dependent on whether or not this is a good date movie. As in: can I have a conversation with my date about this movie? Or does this movie allow for snuggles?
So, can two people have a discussion about this movie? Yes! Especially if one’s date is a Star Wars fan. The Easter Eggs are plentiful and it ties in nicely in several spots with what will happen later in the story. Also, the aforementioned suspense of the fate of the side characters leads potentially to those protective snuggles that are so nice when watching something suspenseful.
I’ll give it a 4 out of 5 for enjoyment and as a date movie. But it’s not going up for any Oscars anytime soon… unless it’s for some technical award.
You’re more than welcome to keep reading, but be warned: from this point on there will
probably definitely be SPOILERS!
So, now down to the specifics!
First of all, since I am NOT a serious Star Wars fan, I have not seen the cartoons, nor am I familiar with the Extended Universe books/comics/whatever that are now apparently called “Legends.” Everything I know about Star Wars is from the movies (even the prequels). So that’s Episodes 1-8, Rogue One, and even the Ewok movie from forever ago.
I was a little girl in the 80s, and freaking love me some Wicket! I’m sorry if you don’t agree, but those Ewoks are seriously cute… and particularly deadly.
I only mention what I do and do not know because the biggest question I have from the Solo movie is about the leader of the Crimson Dawn: Darth Maul. Having only seen the movies, the last thing I knew, Darth Maul had been sliced in half and was good and dead… but here he seems alive and well. This leads me to wonder exactly how far back in the timeline does this movie go?
Rogue One ends mere moments before the start of the original Star Wars movie (the aforementioned Episode IV), but with the addition of Darth Maul, does this mean that we’re further back than that? From what I remember Darth Maul was killed while Anakin was still just a kid, in that horrible Phantom Menace movie. And I’m a little angry that I even have to think of that movie in any way connected to this one.
My date and I were both curious about that, though when Darth Maul appeared on the screen, my date let out an audible “whoa,” and in our brief discussion about it afterward, he felt like it tied in nicely with all the previous movies.
I agree with him, to some extent. I like that we finally see how Han met Chewbacca, what it means to do the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs, exactly how Han got the Millenium Falcon from Lando, and why Han was a little iffy about how he’d be received by Lando in the original trilogy.
Basically, I liked the holes it filled in. As one person put it, filling in those missing pieces gave me the Star Wars movie “I didn’t know I needed.”
It was the completely new characters that I’m still trying to determine what to do with, and how I feel about.
Qi’ra, the love interest, is complex, but that complexity isn’t developed fully. Part of this is because she is only important in how her duplicity helps to shape Han as a person. I love the idea of him having a childhood sweetheart that was his motivation for becoming who and what he was, but in the end broke his heart just enough that he wouldn’t want to say the “L word” easily, even if he meant it.
But while the story of what happened to her is hinted at, it is never fully explained, sort of the way Han’s story was left in the original trilogy.
Maybe we don’t really need her story, but the way the movie ends leads me to believe that there is definitely more going on there that will come into play in later Star Wars movies. Perhaps Disney is planning to expand the Star Wars universe out the way the Marvel Universe has been expanded and interwoven.
I’m not sure how I feel about that…
Another feeling I’m trying to ascertain is how I feel about the way it treats all of the female characters.
This movie had some serious badass women in it, and yet, it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. In order to pass, two female characters (with names) have to have a conversation not about a man or love interest. The only time two female characters have a conversation in Solo, is when Qi’ra and Lando’s bot, L3-37, are discussing their respective love interests, Han and Lando. As it turns out, L3-37 isn’t entirely wrong about Lando’s feelings for her, as he runs after her once she is shot during the operation at Kessel, and the irony of that creates a whole new layer of characterization… for Lando.
Somehow the women, even though they are the ones who seem to get the most done, are still only window dressing to help flesh out the male characters’ arcs.
Woody Harralson’s character Tobias Beckett has Val, played by Thandie Newton. She is the one who is the most effective during the initial heist, the one that brings Han into Beckett’s little gang. While fighting off “Viper Droids,” Val single-handedly blows up a train track, sacrificing herself to ensure Beckett can finish the job. And Beckett, her lover, hardly mourns her loss.
At least Lando was upset about the death of L3-37.
The only badass female character whose awesomeness isn’t diminished into a love interest/plot device is Enfys Nest. Instead, however, she is portrayed as a male with even a voice disguiser that makes her sound masculine until a pivotal moment in the plot.
She is another one that I think is left vague to leave room for future stories to flesh out her character. To be honest, I’m not entirely opposed to the idea, but I do wonder how far they can stray from the original source material and still call it a Star Wars movie.
If I’m honest, I kind of like the idea of Enfys Nest or another member of her little marauder horde being the mother of Rey.
I’d even be okay with Qi’ra being Rey’s mother if it tied up that last little thread that was so disappointing from Episode VIII.
Overall, the story does explain a lot about Han Solo and we do see his development as a character, though the actor who played him (Alden Ehrenreich) didn’t quite manage Harrison Ford’s charisma and swagger. I almost feel like we need to continue this story just to see him develop further into the Harrison Ford level of a rogue with a heart of gold.
We do, however, get a decisive moment where he shoots first. Undeniably! It redeems that crazy edit that George Lucas made to the original where he CGI’ed it to make Greedo shoot first.
Han learned through this movie and his interaction with Beckett to shoot first, and that is an important part of who he is… or at least if you’re a die-hard fan, it’s important.
I am curious to see what comes next as it obviously leaves plenty of questions that will need future stories to answer them. Enfys Nest mentions a rebellion. Will she be the start of the Resistance? How does the Crimson Dawn fit into the later stories? That is an organization that was never mentioned (to my recollection) in any of the previous films, so is it important? Or just a plot device for this film? Will we continue to follow Han to see how he gets involved with Jabba (Beckett mentions a job on Tattooine that can only be the job that Han messes up to land himself on Jabba’s bad side)? Will they continue to give us back stories of all the main characters?
So many questions!! And I can’t believe they brought on a new, younger actor to take over for Chewbacca if they didn’t have plans to continue the story for a while longer. Yes, I saw that Joona Suotamo played Chewie in the Last Jedi, so maybe I’m wrong, but it seems unlikely to put Peter Mayhew out to pasture if there were only 2 or 3 movies left…
Would I be willing to watch more movies in this new side story of the Star Wars franchise? I think so, but only if they actually develop the women a bit more instead of just using them as devices to plump up the male characters’ development.