Spoilers for Solo follow - you have been warned.
So a year after it's release and months after it went up on netflix, I finally got around to watching Solo.
For context: for most of my childhood, I was a huge Star Wars buff. I played Star Wars: Galaxies growing up, I was in the massive crowd that saw The Force Awakens opening night, I spent the better part of 2 years as part of a prerelease community for Star Wars: The Old Republic. There was a time where I could name nearly every planet of consequence in the canon and knew most of the expanded universe's timeline.
But the new trilogy has been... well, nothing. I found it to be a mediocre, hole-filled mess most of the time, too busy being Disney's Star Wars^tm politically correct safe-kid to actually be good movies on their own. Rogue One was an enjoyable exception, but still not particularly amazing... but the point I'm driving at is, the last couple of years, I've pretty thoroughly come down from the Star Wars high.
When Solo came out, I assumed it would be more of the same - panned by critics, it was presumably going to be another politically correct, lackluster, rehashed or nonsense story, this time using Han Solo's name as a marketing tactic. No desire to see a childhood hero Anakin Skywalker'd, I skipped it, and didn't even care to watch it when it popped up on Netflix.
Tonight, out of pure boredom, I decided to give it a watch and was surprised to learn that I couldn't have been more wrong. Which is to say, I enjoyed the crap out of it!
It had romance! Snappy writing! Memorable, enjoyable, non-trope characters (mostly!) Although it had some of the same flaws as Rogue One (namely that it started to drag on), it also had something that Star Wars hasn't truly seen since the original trilogy: heart and soul.
More importantly, it did something that no movie in the franchise has done since the original trilogy, and actually engaged me with the story. And this is where the spoilers come in.
First, credit where it's due: although the story tended to go on and on, at no point did I feel like any of it was unnecessary - it just felt like it was too constrained by being a single movie.
I was invested in seeing an actual romance in the story (since apparently ONLY Han Solo can do that), which saw a satisfying, and rather complex resolution. The dirty, street-level setting and story was an awesome break from the epic, world-shaking conflicts that the movies have clung to until this point (or whatever the hell The Last Jedi was). It was powered by characters, and I appreciated that.
To top it off, the reveal of Maul at the end of the movie was totally intriguing, and (IMO) beats any other reveal in the series hands-down. I was a fan of his appearances in the cartoons, and seeing him on the villain's throne in a movie, I think, would've made for a much spicier and more intriguing story than whatever/wherever/whoever Snoke was. From getting his ass kicked by the Emperor for the plot, to getting beat down by ol' Ben (for the plot), the guy's a damn competent villain that still hasn't had a real shot.
Don't get me wrong, it had its flaws: as mentioned, it was REALLY long, and I don't mean to imply that every character was perfect, or that the plot wasn't totally ridiculous in places. But the story was good enough, and the movie enjoyable enough, that I could overlook it, and that's more than I could say about the movies that caused me to not see it in the first place...
Which, to my final point, is the greatest disappointment: with the cancellation of all the non-trilogy entries in the series, it's safe to assume that Disney's learned all the wrong lessons from Solo.
Rather than attributing it's A- performance to the point that people just haven't much enjoyed their epics, remembered what happened the last time someone tried to do an origin story in the series, or were feeling Star Wars fatigue, and didn't go to see it as a result, they'll blame the format, the story, the stakes, the setting, the characters - all the things that made the movie worth watching at all.
So, with Episode 9 coming out sometime this year and us presumably going to see a mediocre conclusion to what has at this point been a completely mediocre and forgettable trilogy (with lightsabers!), all I can say is, Solo sadly will stand out in my mind as the only movie in this era that carries on the legacy of the originals. I'm disappointed, more by circumstance than anything. I think, had Solo come out 5 years ago, it would've been hailed as the proper return to the franchise that it deserved to be, far more than any of the other franchise entries have succeeded in doing since.
What'd you think of Solo, Tildes? Am I stark raving mad?