Summary: Whether you are deciding whether to go or planning to go, this review of Solo, the latest Star Wars story, can help you.
Solo is not a bad film. It is not a good film. It is a manufactured product. It is to the cinema as a Twinkie is to food. As critic Locke Peterseim said about Guardians of the Galaxy, films from Disney’s “production line all feel the same: all just slightly above mediocre, all carefully packaged so you don’t so much notice the mediocrity but instead smile contentedly, dazzled by all the sparkly familiarity.”
Solo rolls along smoothly, each scene designed by a competent committee that stamped out any sparks of creativity. The CGI was, as always, excellent. The cinematograph always professional crafted. Only the parts requiring imagination were lacking.
First, the script is boring. Without the visuals it could be a “guaranteed to put you to sleep or your money back” CD. The characters are cardboard cutouts, 2-d stereotypes, so it would take a master writer to make them seem real.
The second is a more serious weakness, one common in modern films. The lead is miscast. Alden Ehrenreich (Han Solo) is pretty but unconvincing as a serious criminal. Nobody would trust him as more than a flunky. At key points he gives this childish, goofy grin – after which people trust them with their lives. It has more of Spaceballs-like feel (i.e., a parody) than that of a Star Wars film.
Donald Glover botches the role of Lando Calrissian. Although a talented actor, at inappropriate points he plays the role as comic relief – probably due to inept writing or directing.
Some of the actors do a fantastic job. Especially Woody Harrelson (Haymitch in the Hunger Games films) as Solo’s mentor, Beckett, and Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen in the “Game of Thrones” series) as Qi’ra, his first true love (and much more than that). They give convincing portrays, as if these are people we know.
The plot is the usual gibberish seen in “tent-pole” productions these days. Hollywood knows we will buy any glossy product. Spending effort make the plot sensible is a waste, like feeding haute cuisine to your dog. The bad guys have only toy guns (I waited for one to say “my kingdom for a grenade or machine gun”) and can’t hit anything. The leads run thru blaster fire as if it was a Spring rain, and hit the bad guys as they were clay ducks at a shooting gallery. Han can inexplicably speak one of the million languages in the Galaxy, when required by the plot. In a key scene, all the characters are disarmed – except one who inexplicably has two guns when they are needed. Etc.
Not really a spoiler
Solo has a double-barreled grrl-power ending. After all, Kathleen Kennedy (President of Lucasfilm) says “the Force is female.” Hillary Clinton told us “the future is female.” Disney helps to make it so.
See a better version of this story
“Firefly” was superior in every way. The writing and direction were first rate. The cast perfectly fit their roles. For example, Nathan Fillion nailed the role of a charismatic, powerful, conflicted space outlaw. By comparison Ehrenreich looks like posing male model. Fillion does the role better than Harrison Ford. “Firefly’s” cinematography clearly displayed the characters and action, unlikely the dark murk in which much of Solo takes place. More money does not make better cinema.
These blockbuster films are like America: vast resources, both material and intellectual, expended wastefully. They are missed opportunities on a historic scale. The reason is simple and obvious. We have a free market system. Hollywood produces what we want. Look at the screen and see our moral and mental depth magnified for all to see. When we demand more depth and vision, the people of Hollywood will provide it.
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Ideas! For some shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.
- A philosopher reviews “The Phantom Menace”, a great film with hidden depths.
- The Force Awakens is a film for Boomers. It’s about us.
- The Last Jedi is a finely manufactured product!
- My review, part One: passing the torch between screw-up Boomers and great Millennials.
- My review, part Two: girls rule, giving a New Hope to the galaxy!