Solo is a fine film and that might be good for the Star Wars universe. This is the first Star Wars film I did not see on opening night, ever, and the first I did not think I would like.
I did like it: much like, no hate, no love. That’s new as well. In a movie series with the prequels (hated too much), no fan should be too critical. Solo is not Empire Strikes Back, but it is not Attack of the Clones.
A few friends embrace a fandom (Harry Potter or Star Wars) as if they Matter. As Pope Francis is to the papacy, so Solo is to the Star Wars canon: making the whole thing less serious. That’s bad news for the papacy, but great news for the Star Wars film series.
If you are my age (old), then you waited years for each new film in the originals and your young adult life for the prequels to cause a mid-life crisis. Now here, in the youth of old age (54), we are getting loads of Star Wars films. This means they cannot be portents of anything. They can return to summer film fun.
Some critics thought Last Jedi was a great (or very good) film. Some fans hated the movie. Solo cannot possibly stir this kind of passion, because Ron Howard made the film. No movie made by Opie inspires hate. Ron Howard gives us a good time and this summer needed a good time.
Solo has a solid cast, though Alden Ehrenreich comes a bit too close to playing Harrison Ford playing Solo. Ehrenreich is no Chris Pine. Woody Harrelson is subdued for Woody Harrelson and gives the film a bit of gravity as an aging gun slinger. Donald Glover plays Lando as if the only thing the character had was a cape, lacking Billy Dee Williams’ ability to make a smaller character legend. Williams made a cartoon human, Glover plays the cartoon amusingly. Emilia Clarke playing Qi’rai starts as the “love interest,” but her forward story is the sequel we need.
The plot plods: there is one surprise. We get speedier chases and space monsters: all good. We see nothing we have not seen in other Star Wars films.
Solo shrinks the drama of the Star Wars universe by telling a small story. That’s odd for a movie about Han Solo, but needed. We are left with two plot-lines that can make more decent smallish films (no Star Wars films can ever be “tiny”): Lando and Qi’rai.
Popcorn can be eaten, Diet Coke swallowed. You come, you see, you enjoy. That’s bad news if Star Wars is your religion, but all good if it was just a good time for you from the start.