Synopsis: Han Solo works his way into the criminal underworld, while he honed his observant sarcasm, meets life-long allies, and makes hard sacrifices.
• An ultimately worthwhile ride that does not necessarily ask for anyone to like it. Ron Howard arguably saved the film from oblivion.
• The self-aware elements of the story helped to make up for any narrative weaknesses.
• The supporting characters like Qi’ra (Emilia Clark) and Becket (Woody Harrelson) provided important dimensions, confirming the antihero-western storyline.
• The western-like visuals were well implemented.
• The ultimate leader of Crimson Dawn was a good twist, and an arguably well implemented misdirection to set up for that surprise cameo.
• Those expecting an adaptation of the now Legends novels might have been disappointed for whatever reason.
• The narrative felt sluggish for the first half of the film, while the story was a bit overlong. Indeed, saying Han went three years before deserting felt a stretch.
• The underlying themes of survival were underused.
• Did not fully overcome the weakness of the origin story plot, negating much of the suspense. It was a bit predictable at times.
In spite of the somewhat slower than expected narrative, Solo might be considered an extreme for the prequel and origin story genre. Many if not most of these films tend to be overly predictable, while Solo was also a film that nearly fell apart during production. Ron Howard might just have been the only director capable of saving the film from utter darkness. Indeed, he made Willow (1988) a fantasy classic, deservedly so, when George Lucas’ script was far from original. It was a nearly impossible task to save the project, when it was unclear if anyone really wanted the Han Solo origin story. So, Howard (re)built the film in a way that did not ask anyone to like it, while highlighting the sometimes brutal choices some had to make for the sake of survival. Han Solo clearly learned a lot from his failures as an early smuggler, practically loosing everything, love, a mentor, good allies, everything for the sake of survival and the ship he always wanted. Han did not get it all. Perhaps that harsh beginning made loosing his own son to the darkside as unsurprising as it was infinitely painful later in life. Well, maybe Solo ironically did not stand that well on its own, but it told the story it needed to tell.
Star Wars Franchise
Rotten Tomatoes — 70%