18 votes

I regret not seeing Solo in theaters

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?

16 comments

  1. [6]
    agentseven Link
    FTFY Fake edit: You're not mad. It was a lot more fun than I anticipated when I entered the theater to watch it. I gave up on Star Wars after the prequels, and as shit as TLJ was, the prequels...

    mediocre and forgettable trilogy (with lightsabers laser swords!)

    FTFY

    Fake edit: You're not mad. It was a lot more fun than I anticipated when I entered the theater to watch it. I gave up on Star Wars after the prequels, and as shit as TLJ was, the prequels were far, far worse. The existence of prequelmemes has made people overlook this hard, cold reality, but the prequels were absolute horseshit and I never thought I'd ever see another Star Wars film again because I hated the franchise so much after what Lucas did to it.

    Fast forward to "these days," and we have TFA, which I thought was a damn fine return, Rogue One, which is just hands-down awesome - and Solo. Yes, nobody asked for it, but damned if it isn't a great effing movie anyway. TLJ is shit, but it's not beyond redemption. For me, the jury is out and I will wait to see what they have in mind for IX before I write it off again.

    I hadn't heard they'd put a stop to the non-trilogy films. That's a shame, since they're actually 2 for 2 on those. I hope they're just slowing things down a bit, rather than just throwing out the idea altogether.

    7 votes
    1. [5]
      ghostsplosion Link Parent
      I like TLJ, but it baffles me how people thought it was worse than the prequels. Those movies were so, so bad.

      I like TLJ, but it baffles me how people thought it was worse than the prequels. Those movies were so, so bad.

      6 votes
      1. [3]
        tomf Link Parent
        So, the Prequels aren't great, but I absolutely hate the new ones. That aside, you should check out the prequel fanedits, titled The Fall of the Jedi. Each of the prequels are cut down to...

        So, the Prequels aren't great, but I absolutely hate the new ones. That aside, you should check out the prequel fanedits, titled The Fall of the Jedi. Each of the prequels are cut down to eliminate the weak points, allowing the story to focus less on Jar Jar and the politics, and more on Anakin's journey.

        I've seen a few prequel fanedits, and I think these might be the best that cover all three episodes while keeping a full feature runtime per. The Phantom Edit (etc) is also great, but it cuts down all three into one, which, in all honesty, is just as good. :)

        6 votes
        1. [2]
          ghostsplosion Link Parent
          Cool, I will have a look at these. I've seen some edits that were on YouTube and were ones that cut out the goofy stuff. They weren't bad. The other one I've seen is the blackened mantle, and that...

          Cool, I will have a look at these. I've seen some edits that were on YouTube and were ones that cut out the goofy stuff. They weren't bad. The other one I've seen is the blackened mantle, and that was really good but a bit confusing in the way it was edited.

          2 votes
          1. tomf Link Parent
            yeah, some fan edits are unbelievable --- there's some real talent in that scene. Others... show promise :) With The Fall of the Jedi, it minimizes Jar Jar, which is important if you buy into the...

            yeah, some fan edits are unbelievable --- there's some real talent in that scene. Others... show promise :)

            With The Fall of the Jedi, it minimizes Jar Jar, which is important if you buy into the Sith Lord Jar Jar theory and also believe that Lucas scrapped that due to the public's hatred / misunderstanding of the character.

            I completely buy into that theory despite them being completely wrong about Jar Jar being involved in the new films. Despite the new films technically being canon, I prefer the Legends timeline of the novels and EP 1 - 6.

            Long story short, the fanedit compensates for Lucas' weak spine. With the books, * Darth Plagueis* fits nicely into the timeline of the prequels and gives some backstory to the politics and also Darth Maul. I actually sympathize with Darth Maul -- he was used and abused and I will never forgive Darth Plagueis or Darth Sidious :)

            1 vote
      2. JuniperMonkeys Link Parent
        I admit, I'm one of those people. My feeling is that the prequels are atrocious movies, and make it clear that if George Lucas ever understood why people liked the original trilogy, he had...

        I admit, I'm one of those people.

        My feeling is that the prequels are atrocious movies, and make it clear that if George Lucas ever understood why people liked the original trilogy, he had certainly forgotten by 1999. With that said, though, they tried. Lucas and his writers wanted to tell a new, ambitious story and they put their all into doing so, despite the blatant reality, over a period of years, that they clearly should not have. From Episode 1's opening on weird Asian-stereotype evil aliens pursuing a tedious and inept master plan to Episode 3's final Charlie Brown-esque kick-and-a-miss at Bush-era social commentary, the movies form a canon of very high-concept disaster. They are earnest garbage.

        To me, Episodes 7 and 8 are just cynical. They're debatably better -- I thought Force Awakens was OK -- but they're just two more loafs pinched off by the Disney Machine, devoid of risk or consequence. "Disney Loves You" and "Disney Hates You" blobs, respectively, with bland tone governed by JJ Abrams' mindless oversight. And then, despite all that, they fucked up immediately. I can't stand the Marvel movies, but as a commercial creation they're majestic, and for some reason the aim-for-the-middle dweebs that The Mouse put on the Star Wars case couldn't even do that right. Plus, the creative team that actually tried (I liked Solo) was hobbled by the fact that someone drove the stupid main-sequence new trilogy steamroller into a fucking ditch.

        Or, in a sentence, I respect the Prequel "try hard and make a big mess" approach, and I think that even in abject failure, a failure so profound that it's culturally significant in its own right, the result is more interesting than 7, 8, and (I'm guessing) 9.

        Separately, I would also argue that Episode 8's just simplistic -- moronic even, equal to if not worse than Episodes 1-3. It's tangential to my actual argument, so I won't stand on that hill. But jesus fuck were both of its space battle scenes stupid.

        2 votes
  2. [6]
    ThreeMachines Link
    I also skipped it in theaters, and watched it over the weekend. Counterpoint: "Solo" is not a very good movie. In its defense, it's a very difficult sort of prequel to make; you know most of the...

    I also skipped it in theaters, and watched it over the weekend.

    Counterpoint: "Solo" is not a very good movie.

    In its defense, it's a very difficult sort of prequel to make; you know most of the characters will be dead by the end of the movie, because you've never seen them in later events. Similarly, you know that Han, Chewbacca, Lando, and the Falcon will all make it out alive and unscarred (except the Falcon, which you know from the moment you see it will make it out very scarred). So, I'll give the movie a bit of a pass on the overall plot and pacing.

    Another issue is that it works a little too hard to explain Han Solo's background; we see him get his name, his gun, his ship, his best friend, his best frenemy, his career, his catchphrase... I'm honestly amazed they had the restraint to not also explain him getting his vest. One or two of these would have been great, but trying to fit them all in one adventure is lazy storytelling. The best defense for this is that Star Wars has always had this problem, where everything that gets four frames of screentime has a novella backstory. (This is also a broader cultural problem in "fandom" multimedia franchises; Harry Potter is another prime example of strip-mining the source material for backstory tie-ins.)

    But the real dealbreaker, the thing that actually totally sinks this film for me: why is Darth Maul in it? I honestly missed most of the rest of the movie because I was so distracted by trying to figure out 1) is that really Darth Maul? Didn't that dude get bisected at the torso? And why does his lightsaber have a blade thing on it? 2) Why is he in this movie? Now, apparently this would have been an incredibly satisfying twist if I had been watching "Clone Wars", but you really, really can't make movies with the presumption that everybody's seen the cartoon tie-in!

    What kills me about this is that they made this exact same mistake before, except somehow they made it worse this time. A lot of people were really underwhelmed by General Grievous in Episode 2 because of his weird asthmatic voice – because very few people had been watching "Clone Wars" to know that Mace Windu had injured his (organic) lungs.

    This movie was made by a committee of continuity wonks and it doesn't have much to show for it.

    6 votes
    1. [3]
      cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
      Sounds like someone needs to watch The Clone Wars. It's official Disney Star Wars canon (and quite good!). Spoiler warning!!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IkZf6XJ26c...

      why is Darth Maul in it? is that really Darth Maul? Didn't that dude get bisected at the torso? And why does his lightsaber have a blade thing on it? Why is he in this movie?

      Sounds like someone needs to watch The Clone Wars. It's official Disney Star Wars canon (and quite good!).

      Spoiler warning!!!
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IkZf6XJ26c
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jIjG-e7mZM

      p.s. He is technically no longer a Darth and so just goes by Maul now, and he runs the Shadow Collective.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        ThreeMachines Link Parent
        No, I know why he's alive now, because I read his Wookiepedia article after the movie. But it's absurd that somebody who has seen all previous movies in a series needs to either pull up a wiki...

        No, I know why he's alive now, because I read his Wookiepedia article after the movie. But it's absurd that somebody who has seen all previous movies in a series needs to either pull up a wiki page or have watched six seasons of a spin-off cartoon to understand a (pretty significant) plot point.

        2 votes
        1. cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
          It's not really all that absurd... It was a plot twist and you could have simply taken it at face value and left it at that. I'm sure they will explain/expand on it in the next Solo movie, if/when...

          It's not really all that absurd... It was a plot twist and you could have simply taken it at face value and left it at that. I'm sure they will explain/expand on it in the next Solo movie, if/when they do one. But for those of us that do enjoy the additional content and extended universe lore, it was pretty cool to see Maul on the big screen again.

    2. TheInvaderZim Link Parent
      Thats fair. I really enjoyed the Maul twist because its very well explained in the EU, but its rrally not hard to see how itd be frustrating otherwise. I disagree about the grievous comparison,...

      Thats fair. I really enjoyed the Maul twist because its very well explained in the EU, but its rrally not hard to see how itd be frustrating otherwise. I disagree about the grievous comparison, though. Grievous was a villain of convenience, introduced to fill a hole left by count dooku, who was himself introduced to fill a hole left by (I think) Lucas rightly chickening out about Darth Jar Jar. Maul, though, was done properly - he could have been someone new, and was introduced at the right time, in the right way, for it to be someone new, they just happened to pick Maul.

      As for the rest of your complaints, I dont disagree, I think I just enjoyed the rest of the movie well enough to look past them. It didnt bug me that they introduced all those concepts in such a short period of time because I got a kick out of how they were all used in the story.

      I dont mean to handwave. I respect the disagreement.

      1 vote
    3. Pilgrim Link Parent
      Sounds like a great way to get more people to watch the cartoon tie-in

      Now, apparently this would have been an incredibly satisfying twist if I had been watching "Clone Wars", but you really, really can't make movies with the presumption that everybody's seen the cartoon tie-in!

      Sounds like a great way to get more people to watch the cartoon tie-in

      1 vote
  3. Defluo Link
    I also watched Solo on a whim one day on netflix and actually enjoyed it. I'm not even a big Star Wars fan, I thought the original series was neat, the prequels were absolute dog crap, and Rogue...

    I also watched Solo on a whim one day on netflix and actually enjoyed it. I'm not even a big Star Wars fan, I thought the original series was neat, the prequels were absolute dog crap, and Rogue One was by far my favorite Star Wars film. Maybe it's because I'm not a big Star Wars fan that I liked Solo. I liked the story with a smaller scope in the world. The world building in this movie actually makes the rest of the Star Wars movies more interesting. In the other movies the empire never really seemed that bad. In this movie you got to see and feel the oppression and see the desperation.

    5 votes
  4. Pilgrim Link
    I saw it in theaters like I've seen every other Star Wars movie since Phantom. I thought it was very good and the theater experience only enhanced it. I also re-watched in on Netflix recently and...

    I saw it in theaters like I've seen every other Star Wars movie since Phantom. I thought it was very good and the theater experience only enhanced it. I also re-watched in on Netflix recently and it was enjoyable a second time. Disney shot this movie in the foot by putting it out mid-summer. They should have kept it as a Christmas release.

    My favorites from the post-Disney era are: TFA, Rogue, Solo, Last Jedi.

    I didn't mind the nostalgia trip that was TFA - that was exactly what I wanted. For the Last Jedi, I was put off by several plot holes but I keep reminding myself that SW is a fantasy story set in space, not science fiction. Ultimately, I'm going to wait until the next episode comes out before condemning Last Jedi, but so far it's the weakest of the new ones.

    2 votes
  5. babypuncher Link
    I don't think you're crazy at all. For me, Solo and Last Jedi are easily the best of the Disney Star Wars movies. They were the first movies that didn't feel like Disney was just copy+pasting the...

    I don't think you're crazy at all. For me, Solo and Last Jedi are easily the best of the Disney Star Wars movies. They were the first movies that didn't feel like Disney was just copy+pasting the original trilogy, and I liked that.

    2 votes
  6. Gully_Foyles Link
    I might have to give it a shot after your reading, I loved the Solo books growing up. That said, I've been unimpressed by all the newer movies, including Rogue One, and haven't even watched The...

    I might have to give it a shot after your reading, I loved the Solo books growing up. That said, I've been unimpressed by all the newer movies, including Rogue One, and haven't even watched The Last Jedi yet.

    1 vote