Solo sucks. It just does.
It's okay to admit it. You know somebody who loves the movie — you possibly even know somebody responsible for making the movie! I understand. It's hard to admit a Star Wars movie sucks... because you love Star Wars. But it sucks.
Acceptance is the first step.
My biggest criticism about this picture is the forced nostalgia. It's grotesque.
For example: When the millennium falcon finally shows up, and it's drawn out to be such a big deal when really: Who gives a shit about the millennium falcon?
It's not even an interesting reveal. Instead of taking the time to make the moment unforgettable and/or unexpected, it's just forced lip service. The aesthetic of the form is lined up for you to think (and only think), "WOOOWWW! There it is!" without actually earning the moment. Fuck that, and fuck you if you bought into it. Sorry, this movie makes me angry.
There were so many scenes like this: Discovering how Han Solo got his last name, the first time meeting Lando Calrissian, the first time meeting Chewbacca, how Chewbacca got his nickname, etc... There's a ton others I'm missing cause I don't give a fuck about Star Wars.
Look, I don't care about Marvel, DC, Star Wars, or Star Trek. Fantasy culture is not for me. But I love a good movie. The Last Jedi, the ending of Rogue One, these were all fun experiences. I can dig it. But Solo was more than "give them what they want, but not how they expect it." It felt like a social chore.
I don't want to watch a movie because there's a creepy feeling in the air that if I miss the movie I will be exiled by civilization where I'll starve to death without procreating.
And this is a purposeful marketing strategy by Disney. Read their annual reports. They call it "FOMO Strategy." It has to do with creating movie experiences / marketing campaigns centered around the idea of increasing social pressure to such a degree that people are motivated to get off their computer chairs and walk into a movie theater. That's why Coco is about Mexican culture (during a year of "Build the Wall!"), why Deadpool is Rated-R, why Star Wars movies are being made at all... It's to instill in you a fear: a Fear of Missing Out.
I've been thinking about this approach to film distribution for a while. And it usually works on me. People talk about some new thing, I wanna be a part of it, etc. Or I see some bullshit being released in 3D or with some gimmicky livestream attached, then yeah, I'll go. But I expect something in return... USUALLY JUST ENTERTAINMENT. With Solo, I was not entertained. If you're pushing a campaign that makes me feel like a schmuck for not schlepping myself to the movie theater, and can't even fucking deliver a decent movie, then goddammit fuck you!
Movies should not feel like a burden to enjoy. I go to escape, not to labor.
Recently, I've been studying The Crusades. I saw a 1935 Cecil B. DeMille movie that had a line which I thought was one of the prettiest phrases uttered in all of cinema. Loretta Young looks up at the camera in an angelic gauzy-diffuse halo and whispers, "Do it for The Crusade."
I couldn't help but think of that when whoever-the-chick was in Solo said to, well, Han Solo, "Go and save Chewbacca." I was like 🤮🤮🤮 That's gotta be one of the dumbest lines uttered in cinema history.
Donald Glover's robot, L3 (or whatever the name is) — YOU GUESSED IT — sucks! Jesus, what a shit character. "She's" supposed to be a feminist robot a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? Give me a break!
This is where The Last Jedi once again dominates in terms of pure cinematic form. In The Last Jedi, notions of race, race relations, and representations of race are dealt with in an elegant / textural manner: The characters just so happen to be of minority races, the situations just so happen to be metaphorical to smashing all forms of oppression, the audience can actually identify with the underdog(s) in that story... Whereas in Solo, it's as if an AI algorithm was spitting out dialogue based on what's trending on Twitter.
And why does L3 have an obviously "fat ass"??? Like... WHY IS SHE THICC??? GODDAMNIT THIS MOVIE SUCKS. ::takes a deep breath:: If you're gonna be a Michael Bay movie, be a Michael Bay movie. But all this pussy half-way pandering bullshit is a waste of my time. Whatever clandestine marketing organization Disney has developed to try & make everything a fucking meme is starting to feel sinister... GET OUT OF MY HEAD!! ::takes another deep breath::
The character of L3 sucks: She sucked when she was alive. She sucked when she died.
That's right: Spoiler Alert bitches, after the fact!
I can keep talking about how much I hated this movie, but I won't.
Actually… A few more quick points.
The young kids as evil pirates thing that was like SYKE! we're actually the rebellion. My eyes rolled so hard they popped out of my skull, bounced down the soda-encrusted theater steps, as I neurotically chased after them, bumping into people I couldn't see, spilling popcorn everywhere, etc. Why doesn't this work?
Because one of the few things I was willing to enjoy about the film was its use of tension.
The tension in the action scenes were designed well-enough that you could get swept up (even if for a brief moment) in the unfolding action. Will they steal all the whatever from the space-train before it crashes over the mountain, etc etc etc... It's a cinematic engine of tension built well. It reminded me of Spielberg's method of creating tension in a big action scene, that has to do with the introduction of new micro-complications in an ever-unfolding giant disaster.
One of the things that was introduced to heighten the tension was the sub-plot of a rival band of space pirates / smugglers. They are the antagonists to Han Solo's new pursuits as a young & free space smuggler. So, obviously, any foe of our friend is a foe to us.
For the tension to work, you have to assume the rivals are physically / technologically capable to defeating Han Solo & his team... But Solo is just one step ahead of them in wits & street smarts, that he's able to defeat the rival pirates. THAT'S THE IDEA. It works when it works.
But then later on we discover these space pirates are actually a band of kids ala Spielberg's Hook or The Sandlot or some bullshit. The formerly-terrifying masked space pirate leader is actually some freckled teenage girl. Look... Forget about all the female / young people empowering stuff right now. FORGET IT. This has to do with basic cinematic law. I simply do not believe they have the physical or technological capabilities to be the top smuggling operation in this fictional universe, once this reveal is made.
It seems like, once again, lip service to Disney's internal marketing big data that shows so-and-so demographic or so-and-so trend is hot, and thus needs to be pandered to in order to ensure customer loyalty.
You can still have the message & good cinema. Both are possible!
Here's one example: Make the leader of this pirate army a weathered looking woman (or teenager), maybe with some mechanized enhancements, or some proprietary weaponry / skill. We should believe that the person hiding in the mask is actually capable of leading an infantry of ideologues without having to depend on Han Solo's benevolence.
Instead, it's just a bunch of normal looking kids with nothing really special about them except bumper sticker phrases that are meant to illicit strong feelings in us about current events (anti-Trump, gun control, mass protest movements, etc).
It's not entertaining, it's not good cinema... Solo just sucks.
Ultimately, the biggest flaw of the entire movie is Han Solo. That's not good when your movie is called, well... SOLO!
The real skinny of it is that I didn't identify with any of the actors in the film. Not Han Solo guy, not Donald Glover, not L3, not the villain, not Darth Maul at the end, nobody. The people who told me they did enjoy the movie, admitted the primary source of their entertainment was their identification with one or more of the actors (Mr. Glover, etc...)
So, in this way, he was poorly cast. I don't even know who played Solo.
Normally, I look this stuff up & link it to boost my SEO and etc, but I'm not even going to do that here. This isn't the fault of the actor. He was cast as Han Solo! I'd take the part, even if I KNEW I was the wrong person for the role.
But from the point of view of directing: The person cast as Han Solo should've been equal part trained actor & wild-animal, as a young Harrison Ford would. You can never recapture the original magic of something, but you can capture similar qualities...
It's those qualities, often abstract & not obvious, that attracted audiences in the first place. I don't have any suggestions for a replacement actor, but it should've been somebody else. Looking the part is not good enough. The person literally needs to be the part in order for good casting to crystallize on screen.
In the future, everybody gets to direct a Star Wars movie.
These extended universes are not only smart marketing techniques by the top media companies in existence, but they're also creating a total imperialized reality around us. The official corporate dream of the war in the stars & super human warriors are becoming our own private dreams. This is something to be wary of moving forward...
Star Wars turned from a scarce trilogy (to some), into the most expensive continuous YouTube content in the world. Any quality that emerges is purely coincidental.
So, what worked? Well.... There were a few jokes I chuckled at (2, exactly); Donald Glover was alright (he never impresses me in movies for some reason); and I had a delicious burrito before the movie, which is always nice. And the movie was so so so bad, that I was picturing in my head (simultaneously) the imaginary Mel Brooks / Monty Python version of the movie. Here's a scene from that movie:
INT. Space Port
Imperial Officer: [typing in computer] Name?
Han Solo: Han.
Imperial Officer: Han what?
Han Solo: I... I don't know.
Imperial Officer: Who are your people?
Han Solo: I have no people. It's just me. Alone.
Imperial Officer: Well, you're going to need a last name. Let's see... Han, Haaann... Duo? No, that won't work. Hannn OneMan? Doesn't sound quite right, does it? Han...
[Alarms ringing, Space Force checking everybody's ID]
Han Solo: Can we hurry this up?
Imperial Officer: Han Loner? Han AllByHimselfPerson? C'mon, you're gonna have to work with me here. Oh I got it! Han Uno! [Computer beeps] Drat, already taken...
[Han Solo looks into camera, winks, John Williams music swells, etc etc etc Directed by Ron Howard The End????]