I know I’m late to the discussion, and that this post is probably too long, but after waiting for the Redbox release, I wanted to share my thoughts (with spoilers) on the this film.
To be clear, these are just my personal feelings on the film and should have no bearing on your opinion of it. I’m saying what I’m saying merely to express, not to convince.
In my humble opinion, this was just a badly written picture. It’s the first Star Wars film in almost 20 years I have almost completely disliked. Because it’s not just a bad Star Wars movie. It’s a bad movie all the way around. I’m so disappointed, because I have tons of admiration for Ron Howard.
First of all, Han had no character arch. When the character’s survival is guaranteed in an origin story, it leaves nothing interesting about him if he doesn’t change over the course of the plot, since none of the other stakes of that plot will matter in the long run. It would have been far more engaging if he’d started as a straight-laced guy, joining the Empire for misplaced ideological reasons, only to become disillusioned and disaffected, developing into the Han we meet in Ep IV. By contrast, whether or not you enjoyed the prequels, there’s no denying Anakin changes over the course of those three episodes. Han is pretty much the same guy at the beginning of Solo that he is at the beginning of Episode IV, just younger.
The scene where Han meets Chewbacca was covered in crap. Literally. Or at least some aggressively unpleasant looking mud. The whole visual aesthetic seemed to be to cover everything with filth because … well … I guess because they could. And because that seems to be their current approach to reinvention. In essence, take a product, cover it with extraneous junk, then falsely call it something new.
I was very annoyed by Darth Maul’s cameo. Though he was about the best thing in Phantom Menace, and it was a shame that they killed him off, they did kill him off! Any other scenario of him surviving in the TV shows or comics felt like sloppy writing that was trying to have its cake and eat it too. Maul felt pretty pointless in this film anyway, so why have him there? Besides, (again, for me personally) if it isn’t in the feature films, it isn’t part of the “true” story, so for me, Darth Maul should have still been dead.
Another problem is Qi’ra’s re-appearance. Han has no idea where Dryden Vos might be keeping her. Then, without anyone having to figure anything out, poof, there she is on Vos’s yacht. Deux ex machina for sure.
Four words: L…3…3…7.
Uuuggghhh. Where do I start? To the same degree that I liked BB8 in VII or VIII, or K2SO in R1, I disliked L3-37 in Solo. She was such an annoying caricature of everything obnoxious about people concerned with social issues. The well being of an exploited group (droids, in this instance) could have made for an an compelling vignette. Instead, we got a cartoonishly one dimensional social justice warrior. It isn’t that I wouldn’t side with her in the effort to liberate those without voices. It’s that she’s so single mindedly self-righteous. She makes those ideas which could have been compelling laughable, with shallow blither that she attempts to be iconoclastic, but amounts to nothing but cliches.
The alluded Lando / L3-37 thing was also really weird and gross. And then the “Don’t look at me. I can’t perform when you look at me.” robot phallic joke while she was cutting the fence? Unbelievably…STUPENDOUSLY…awful!.
Even if all these problems hadn’t been issues, the script still would have been filled with characters you don’t care about, and thus make the stakes that didn’t matter before end up mattering even less.
Lastly, a minor personal gripe: Han pronouncing the Wookie language (Shyriiwook?). In my own conceptualization of Star Wars, there was reason you never heard Han or Chewbacca speak to the other in the other’s language. It was because though each understood both languages, each was only physiologically capable of pronouncing their own. Having Han vocalize some guttural Wookie utterances undercuts that idea, and it makes me kinda sad.
This just about ties “Phantom Menace” for me for the worst Star Wars film to date among the Numbered Episodes and the Anthology Films. I think it will be the first Star Wars film of which I decline to purchase any physical or digital copy altogether, only spending that little bit of money on the Redbox rental.
Oh, well. At least they got one thing right. Han definitely shoots first. 😄
PS- I thought the visual effects were great. And so on the very, very, very off chance Harmy did any effects work on Solo, I’d also like to make it clear that I had no problems there and that I only took issue with the story concepts and their narrative execution. 😉