Despite galactic shortcomings at the box office – with headlines like: ‘Solo’: How Big a Box Office Dud Is the ‘Star Wars’ Spinoff?, How can Star Wars get back on track after Solo's disappointing debut?, or ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ falls far short of box-office expectations – Disney delivered a fast-paced, (mostly) well-written westernesque action flick detailing the dawn of the universe’s most notorious pilot, Han Solo, and his hirsute companion, Chewie.
Disclaimer: This review will contain (some, but vague) spoilers.
Solo takes us deeper into Star Wars, exploring the universe’s vast black market. Rife with smugglers, gamblers, and scattered dissidents of the oppressive Galactic Empire, this illicit underworld is not only Han Solo’s origin, but the Rebel Alliance’s as well.
The film follows a downtrodden, juvenile Han Solo (played excellently by Alden Ehrenreich) trapped in the slums of the galaxy. Deprived of basic freedoms in the dystopian Galactic Empire, Solo is forced to spend life as an Aladdin-like street rat on the city streets.
With his young love, Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke), Han plans their escape from the grimy ghetto. As their plan goes south (sort-of), Qi’ra is captured at the border as Han successfully escapes.
Solo displays Han’s cavalier attitude to politics as he attempts to join the Empire (whose grasp he just escaped!) with hopes of becoming a pilot. His rebellious spirit, however, gets him booted from flight academy; he’s demoted to ground trooper where he meets his mentor and seasoned smuggler, Beckett (Woody Harrelson).
Abnegating sins that plagued the last Star Wars film (The Last Jedi), Solo revolves strictly around Han and his story; none of the film’s characters feel like superfluous addendums written in to fill the "woke" requirement. In fact, the entirety of the SJW leftist politics that made the last Star Wars movie a bore were all contained in a single character here – a droid.
Great casting decision, Disney. No actor or actress in Hollywood has the acting prowess to portray social justice warriors as well as a robot.
The progressive news outlet, Vox, published their frustrations with the movie’s honest take-down of SJW politics with the headline: We need to talk about the woke droid: Solo addressed the ugly metaphor at the center of the Star Wars universe — and not particularly well.
In other unexplained interpretation, some left-wing commentators (and even one of the movie’s writers) suggested Lando Calrissian (superb performance from Donald Glover) is pansexual. Vox even published the headline: What a pansexual Lando Calrissian reveals about the evolution of Star Wars. I’ll leave this to viewers to decide for themselves, but from what I saw in the film, Lando’s romantic fancies weren’t "explored" to any degree other than a running-joke where his droid was in love with him.
One of the film’s best scenes (along with the first time we see the Millennium Falcon), was Han Solo’s first encounter with his hairy companion Chewbacca. Tossed into a pit by the Empire to be "fed to the beast" (who turns out to be Chewie), Han bonds instantly with the shaggy beast.
As the film progresses, the two run-aways display great on-screen chemistry as they evolve into the strong, iconic duo seen in later Star Wars films.
Solo does land with some shortcomings. Aside from being generic, the writing at times feels impetuous. For example, in one scene, as Han is about to kill the space gangster Dryden Vos, Qi'ra bewilderingly disarms Han, only to kill Dryden herself. Why? This is presumably left for upcoming sequels to explain but feels like laziness from the writers’ part.
Aside from hints of banality in the plot, Solo is a mostly well-written, superbly cast, fun movie. The humor works well, the pacing is excellent, and the action scenes are some of the best in the Star Wars franchise. Don’t let its shortcomings in the box-office deter you from what’s a delightful 135 minutes in the Star Wars universe. And, if anything, the film’s on-point satirization of social justice mania is worth the price of admission.
Follow Harry Khachatrian on Twitter