Upon hearing the announcement for Solo I was a bit apprehensive. And that feeling of apprehension didn’t go anywhere as casting choices were announced and plot lines released. To be quite honest, I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to watch the movie in the first place. But as a life long card carrying member of the Star Wars franchise fan club, I decided that it was my civic duty to see this new installment. Although Solo surprised me in certain aspects, I still left the theater feeling a bit disappointed.
Right from the start of the film, I felt like the romance between Qi’ra and Han was the most superfluous storyline known to man. It really just left a bad taste in my mouth. Gone was the smart mouth, free spirited Han. He was replaced with a man deeply in love with a woman he grew up with. How are we supposed to connect the fact that he was madly in love with a woman and willing to risk it all for her and then magically falls in love again a few years later with Leia? Don’t get me wrong, stranger things could happen – in space no less – but it just didn’t feel organic to Han’s character that we have grown to love over the past few decades. I just wish they would have followed the footsteps of Rogue One and had their love be more on the platonic side, like that of Jyn and Cassian. The love arc was one of many character inconsistencies for Han Solo. Another being the idea that Han was always willing to fight to do the right thing. Han is a good guy but he always looked out for himself first. To see him continuously volunteer and actively fight for the right thing to do was a bit strange to me when previous content always felt like Han was more a reluctant participant.
Another issue I had with Solo was the treatment of the characters of color. We all know that Lucas Films has issues casting people of color as leads in the franchise but Solo was the ultimate tease. Killing off Thandie Newton, playing the character of Val, was the biggest waste. Here we had a bad ass black woman with the potential of helping to carry the film and instead of utilizing her, she ‘sacrificed’ herself as essentially just a ploy to move the plot along with nary another mention.
Despite my issues with his character choices, I was pleasantly surprised with Alden Ehrenreich’s performance in the film. I went in with pretty low expectations and he was able to be charming and even funny at some points of the film. I loved watching the development of the relationship between Chewy and Han. It made it all the more heartbreaking to think back to The Force Awakens when Chewy watched Han die.
Lando Calrissian, as everyone on Twitter expected when photos were released originally, completely stole the show. Donald Glover just nailed the body language and charisma of Billy Dee Williams. His banter with L3 was hilarious and I loved when they were on screen together. It was frustrating because Han and Lando had more chemistry than Han and Qi’ra did. However, what I did not appreciate was the intentional queerbaiting that was done with Lando after the film premiered. (If you aren’t familiar with the term queerbaiting, there are tons of great articles out there and you should definitely check them out.) The fact that anyone would assume people are straight in space is sort of baffling to begin with. People are sleeping with whole ALIENS. We don’t know what their sexuality/genitalia entails.
The surprise cameo by Darth Maul was definitely a huge moment for me. I very vividly remember going to see The Phantom Menace as a child in theaters and thinking his fight scene with Qui-Gon Jinn was the most bad ass thing I’ve ever seen. The moment that movie came out for purchase my brother and I begged my mother for it and we watched it over and over again. There have definitely been tons of nostalgic moments in the new wave of the Star Wars films, but this was definitely an unexpected surprise. And it does make me curious as to whether Qi’ra will become a more known character along with more features by Darth Maul. Although the one character I want on screen more than anything is Sana Starros but I believe we have a long way to go before that dream becomes a reality.
Solo definitely delivers in terms of action but the story runs a bit on the predictable side. I would recommend going to see this film just for Lando and the surprise cameo by Darth Maul. Otherwise I fear the Star Wars franchise is beginning to run into a bit of a rut if some significant changes aren’t made.