Solo: Leave Your Expectations at the Airlock

Our Entertainment Editor weighs in on the Star Wars spinoff.


Luke Adelhoch, Entertainment Editor

The second installment in the Star Wars anthology/spin-off films, Solo: A Star Wars Story was met with much indifference from the moment it was revealed. A troubled production history and sparse advertisement raised much anxiety over the final film’s quality. And now that the film has released to an underwhelming opening at the box office, it is shaping up to be the least significant film in the franchise. When I went to see it on Memorial Day, the theater was almost empty, with most audiences going to see Deadpool 2 instead, which I already had the pleasure of viewing the Friday before. And honestly, I’d say that for what it was, Solo really wasn’t too bad.

Don’t get me wrong, this movie has absolutely no reason to exist. Han Solo never had much of a mysterious backstory that needed exploration. He was a smuggler who had plenty of contacts, not an unusual thing in the galaxy. The exploits of his past inspired the imagination of audiences, but there was never a need to truly explore them on screen– that’s part of the Star Wars magic. Solo really didn’t have a lot to work with. But despite this fundamental issue, the film manages to be an entertaining watch, making its two hour run time go as fast as a jump to hyperspace.

The story was pretty safe for the most part, but it was entertaining in its own way, portraying a decently told gangster story in space. The acting was all good and there were even standout performances, like Donald Glover as fan-favorite Lando Calrissian, who proved to be one of the best casting choices in the recent history of the franchise. Alden Ehrenreich was also a highlight– for being given the impossible task of performing the character made a household name by Harrison Ford, he did a great job at playing the character he was supposed to. He might not look too much like Ford, but he manages to convey the spirit of Han better than I expected. And it was fun, if still not necessary for the series, to see how Han became friends with Chewie and how he won the Millenium Falcon from Lando. There’s also an unexpected cameo from another fan-favorite character who was an extremely pleasant surprise to see again. To avoid spoilers, I won’t say who they are– though any fans of the animated Clone Wars and Rebels series will be pleased to see this character acknowledged for their storyline across those shows. The quick pace of the movie also serves the film well, never feeling like it overstayed its welcome.

But there were still a few problems aside from the aforementioned fundamental issue of not having a point. For one, the color palette for the first several minutes of the movie is oppressively blue and gray. It can be really difficult to see a lot of what is going on for quite a bit, although I got used to it somewhere around the middle of that early portion. It was still quite annoying though. A gritty palette is fine and could suit the story of a character like Han, but it still needs to be easy to see what’s going on. And on a more nitpicky note, the trailers kept using a shot of Chewbacca’s head almost hitting a rock as if he could possibly die in a movie taking place before the original trilogy. This wasn’t really a problem in the actual film thankfully, but it was a pretty bad early impression for many, myself included.

So at the end of the day, Solo is just kind of a harmlessly fun but not particularly outstanding science fiction/action/gangster movie. But it rarely captures the special Star Wars brand of magic. I’d say it’s worth a watch, but leave your expectations behind you. This isn’t on par with the non-prequel main series, but it’s still a fun way to spend two hours on a lazy afternoon.