As I mentioned in my previous post, my long wait to see Solo:A Star Wars Story finally ended today. Due to a timing issue, I did have to see it in LIEMAX (which I despise) but I won't hold that against the movie.
I was not disappointed at all.
This movie might not be deep, but it is fun.
Like two of the previous three Disney produced Star Wars stories, this movie did its job.
The Force Awakens was a love letter to Han Solo that built a bridge between fans who were children of the 1970s and those born in the 21st century. I thought it was perfect.
Rogue One needed to explain exactly how it was even remotely possible that a rag tag band of rebels could destroy the most powerful weapon in the galaxy using only a small fighter piloted by an untrained whiny farm boy. It did a fine job and also introduced some very cool characters... who we will never see again.
The Last Jedi should have been a love letter to Luke Skywalker that explained his whereabouts for the past twenty years and why Kylo Ren could become so evil that he murderer his own father. Not only did it epicly fail as an homage to Luke Skywalker (turning him into a coward and a tool), but it also provided 45 completely useless minutes of important rebels running around a casino planet after being arrested for parking violations.
Let me get this straight. Two of the most important characters got thrown in jail for parking violations. That made it into the actual movie?
This failure lead me to temper my expectations for Solo. The fact that they felt the need to replace the directors during production did not exactly rekindle my shaken confidence. Still I hoped the character and his backstory was compelling enough that it could not possibly be ruined.
The creative team had some simple tasks:
Show me how Han and Chewy became soulmates
Show me how Han and Lando became frenemies
Show me how Han got the Millennium Falcon
Show me why Han is a hero (even if he will never admit it)
Show me how Han learned it was always wise to shoot first
Not only did this movie check every single one of those off their list, it did it with a perfect mix of action and humor.
They didn't screw it up!
Please take note, this movie is not perfect. It could have been better. The middle slowed down a little too much for my taste and it didn't really do much aside from formulaically check off the boxes above. But that is OK. It was incredibly entertaining and my whole family loved it.
The special effects during the many action sequences were flawless as always. The creators knew this movie should be a fun ride and they did not disappoint. There are "car" chases, space chases, land battles, space battles, close combat sequences, and escapes. Toss in a nice caper element and you have the perfect popcorn movie. Although I don't think anyone will ever list this as a life defining movie (as many geeks did when Star Wars was released in 1977) I also don't think many people will turn this one off when it inevitably gets played on cable TV every 3 months for the rest of our lives. It will be one of those movies that when you are flipping through channels, you will always stop because no matter where you pick it up, something fun is about to happen.
In addition to the action, it is quite funny. It came as no shock that Han's banter with Chewbacca and Lando is amusing. However, what was surprising was how funny Lando's droid L3-37 was. She was genuinely hilarious. I think she may have become my daughter's new favorite character. My son just told me, "she is the best droid in Star Wars so far". High praise indeed... and well deserved.
See. She's delightful! (Easter egg alert)
Looking back, I should not have been surprised that the movie was far better than The Last Jedi. After all, it is written by Jonathan Kasdan and his father Lawrence Kasdan who is responsible for penning The Empire Strikes Back… the greatest Star Wars movie ever. When they needed to replace the previous directors, they chose Ron Howard who knows how to have fun (see Arrested Development). This team knew what was on the line. They could not break geeks’ hearts and ruin Han Solo. Not only did they preserve his legend, they added to it. In addition, they inserted so many Easter eggs for fan boys like me that I am positive that I did not catch them all. You need to pay attention to every detail of every conversation as well as the actors who might seem unimportant at first.
Speaking of actors, I was thrilled with every casting decision. Alden Ehrenreich did not simply perform a Harrison Ford impersonation. He played Han about as believably as anyone I can imagine. Woody Harrleson does well as the veteran scoundrel role model. Emily Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones) is fantastic. She is believable and athletic in her action scenes. Obviously Donald Glover was simply born to play Lando. Let's face it, he pretty much is Lando. I think if anyone else had been cast, fans would have been angry for years at the missed opportunity. He is suave, arrogant, and funny. Like I said... he is Lando.
I still don't know how they found an actor who looked exactly like the old Chewbacca.
If they had consulted me before creating this movie, in addition to the jobs listed above, I would have added a few more:
Include as many Easter eggs as possible (including a Ron Howard one)
Make me teary eyed or give me chills a couple of times
Include a huge surprise
Make me yearn for a sequel
Even without my expert opinion (sarcasm intended) they managed to include all of these as well. In fact, the surprise they included is so huge that I bet even the most avid fan will not see it coming. If someone had given me 50 guesses, I don't think I could have possibly predicted it... and it is AWESOME! (Please no one spoil it in the comments.)
Although Solo: A Star Wars Story may not be a grand slam, at least it isn't the sacrifice bunt that The Last Jedi was. The Last Jedi moved the story along and will be quickly forgotten. This was a double down the line that the runner stretched into a triple. Hopefully the sequel knocks him in.
Geeky Dad's Movie Guide
Number of times I fell asleep: 0 (I did go to the bathroom during one slow part)
Number of eye rolls: 0
Number of face palms: 0 (An attempted cantina-like Easter egg fell a bit flat)
Number of times my kid asked to go to the bathroom or get food out of sheer boredom: 0 (They were entertained nearly non-stop)
Number of times I checked steemit: 0
Did my kids like it: 13 year old son and 11 year old daughter both LOVED it!
Would I see it without my kids: Twice
Full price/Matinee/Rental/Free/Not worth the time: Full price, perhaps a second time as a matinee, and I will buy the DVD.