I'm generally a big fan of the new Star Wars thing that Disney will keep going until the sun turns into a red giant and burns away the atmosphere, but Solo tested my patience. It's one of those frustrating movies that has a lot of good elements--characters, imagery, plot threads--but somehow they don't add up to a movie that's particularly memorable or entertaining.
In the spirit of positivity, here is a list of things I liked:
- Thandie Newton's character, because Thandie Newton is a badass
- The Imperial lady in the spaceport who says "next" in a really flat tone like she's a computer
- The WWI-inspired war scenes near the start, and in general the way the Empire looks and feels somewhat different from how it's portrayed in the other movies
- The big gross worm crime boss Han works for who talks like Rita Repulsa
- More or less all of the costumes
- Enfys Nest, especially once you find out what her whole deal is
- The giant space octopus
- The bit near the end where Darth Maul turns on his lightsaber and it reflects in Qi'ra's eyes in a really ominous way (yeah Darth Maul is in this)
- The creepy AF servant with half her head missing
- All of the mild homo-eroticism between Lando and Han (maybe the franchise will advance to having an on-screen LGBT character by Episode XXI)
- Continuing The Last Jedi's focus on being vaguely Space Woke
You'll notice that missing from this list is anything involving the titular protagonist. That's because Solo has a Han Solo problem, specifically the fact that it's about Han Solo.
Even ignoring the fact that he gets upstaged by literally every single one of the supporting characters, it's kind of inescapable that "Han Solo before he did all of the stuff that makes him Han Solo" isn't a very interesting angle even if you like Han Solo (which I don't, particularly). It doesn't help that every salient detail about his pre-A New Hope Life that's mentioned in the original trilogy happens in this one movie, over the course of a few days. He meets Chewbacca, gets the Millenium Falcon and does the Kessel Run in twelve parsecs during one singular incident; at a stroke, he goes from a mysterious character who's lived a life of adventure and intrigue to a guy who did one exciting thing one time. And he might have accidentally kick-started the rebellion, just to make the Star Wars universe seem even smaller.
The movie falls hard into the trap many prequels stumble into of using foreknowledge in place of character writing. There isn't any particularly compelling reason why Han decides to partner with Chewie or falls so hard for the Millenium Falcon or likes Lando, except that he has to because the previous movies established that he did those things. He's made entirely of negative space.
Even ignoring the Star Wars connection, it's just a very rote, predictable movie. Gosh, do you think the guy who tells Han to "assume everyone will betray you" will betray him? I wonder if the warrior clad from head to toe in bulky armour and who speaks with a suspiciously modulated voice will turn out to be a woman?
(I still don't understand why that twist was in there; the surprise about Enfys Nest is that she's a freedom fighter, not that she's a woman).
The only upside to Solo is that it introduces a lot of stuff that could be mined for future Star Wars content. Casting noted television actress Emilia Clarke as a member of a syndicate who jets off at the end of the movie to go on unspecified crime adventures seems like a good angle for that long-rumored underworld-focused TV project. And maybe they'll make an Enfys Nest movie some day. It would be a better use of everyone's time than a fucking Boba Fett spin-off.