Movie Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

This is…*sigh*…not bad but also not what anyone was hoping for.

Solo will likely always be overshadowed for its price tag/wallet and was predetermined to suffer such a fate no matter how good this was. It’s unfortunate and a disservice to those who helped construct this artwork but where there are stalls in production and the termination of directors, there’s generally fire.

Ron Howard, under the tight reins of executive producers, ended up reworking nearly three quarters of the film.

The entire tonality of the film was flipped on its axle, leading stars actively questioning their roles, a major red flag for any production. Disney had botched this.Image result for solo star wars movie poster free use

But Disney, or any large megacorp, for that matter, would rather surge through the hurricane than wave the white flag and that they did. I discussed Disney’s reluctance to see straight on John Carter this summer (Was actually one of my better works this year. Worth a click).

Solo runs much smoother than broadcast but I use smooth as a detriment here. While Solo doesn’t scream panic on the screen, the story lacks narrative depth, no doubt a byproduct of a mosh pit of tonalities. The film was originally directed as a comedy since directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were expressly told to distance itself from a Star Wars taste and to instead look toward a character novella surrounding the famed smuggler.

And while I’d have no issue with a Star Wars comedy, producers were thoroughly against it. Some reports said Lord and Miller of Lego Movie fame were targeting a western more than anything. Whether space cowboy or straight comedy, all involved could agree that Han Solo deserved his own enterprise but there was enough vitriol in the disagreement to take an ax to the directing duo altogether, leaving all agreed to the “we need something different” statement but undecided on what qualified as different and what served as walking the plank.

In news that may shock some, the question of ambiguous texture arises on more than one occasion, making even “the dumb friend” in the group question what kind of park ride he got on. While Rogue One carries the Star Wars title, it also proudly states its individuality many a time across filming, a boastful demeanor which continues to magnetize audiences to this story in a familiar universe. Removed from that nostalgic environment, Rogue One still works on a narrative and character level. Being included in the Star Wars pages is simply a bonus.

Rogue One also didn’t reject the label like inheriting such a surname carrying tragic history.

Solo can’t decide if it wants to embrace the label with pride or trash it like a hand-me-down. If those are the only two options, given the Solo character is already part of the cannon, the former seems the right course of action but for whatever reason, the studios were deadset on something they deemed organic when the fragrance they’ve been churning out for forty years is still fresh.

And if western comedy is what you’re going with, that’s totally fine! Hell, might even be something *gasp* innovative.

Innovation scares people just like things and creatures people can’t understand. The unknown is unpredictable, not part of the plan and that upsets the schemers. (Sidenote: I’m in love with The Dark Knight. Truly a masterwork.) Films like Solo aren’t complicated or at least shouldn’t be. Complications arrive because of the parties involved.

And that truthfully sums it up, folks. Disney got too cute with this one and a bout of indecision during a dinner date with one of its finest suitors ended with some thrown handkerchiefs and dramatic exits.

Despite a clear miss at the shooting range, Solo, unlike John Carter, survives as an average endeavor. I give credit to Ron Howard, a man who’s been in the business a long time, and a crew who did what they could to make it all work. Star Wars has a family of its own and I believe those in Hollywood given the opportunity to add to the legacy do so with the utmost respect and reverence for the material.

Woody Harrelson’s bounty hero, along with most of the cast, can’t escape generalities, however, a pit Disney essentially pushed them into. I can almost visualize producers taking a far too active role in directing, correcting the cast’s portrayal of their vehicles at every turn, relaunching them onto a different set of tracks. If producers knew what was best for them, they’d put forward the funds and let the artists focus on the art.

Alden Ehrenreich is the picture’s best figure, an earnest and honest effort. There’s wit, showmanship and charisma here. Shame the script couldn’t have given the guy more to work with. Han Solo is begging for a comedy, howling for more one-liners. The producers stubborn resilience to frame this as a serious smuggler score rattles the mind.

Emilia Clarke, Paul Bettany, Harrelson and company don’t execute anything poorly and I can’t emphasize enough that I hold no resentment toward the cast for this one. It’s hard to win five-card poker with a pair of sevens.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Batman BeginsThe MatrixL.A. ConfidentialHerTaken)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Spider-Man: Far From Home, Dumb and DumberPokemon Detective PikachuThe Matrix Reloaded,Wanted)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (The Matrix RevolutionsTriple FrontierI am LegendIp Man 2Ip Man)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide Squad)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (XXXThe SilenceThe Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath Race)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (DoomThe Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: Evolution)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (XXX: State of the UnionThe SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe Gunman)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The ExtendablesThe Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcast)

My score for Solo: A Star Wars Story: 77. 

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a broken thoroughbred rounding the final bend of what was a promising start to the franchise. The original trilogy has aged tremendously and the prequels, while displaying poor acting and writing far more often than fans would like, are still watchable. The Force Awakens is arguably great despite being a near carbon copy of A New HopeRogue One may be better than any of the new trilogy installments.

Solo is the adopted stepchild who never finds a role to play in the family and despite promise, its parenting and circumstance prevent it from ever reaching its full potential.

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