As all fourteen of my regular readers know, I'm easily entertained. Butterflies, flowers, dumb eighties sitcoms, there's a good chance I'll sit through them all as long as they're not Kardashian-type "reality" TV shows.
So yes, I was entertained by Solo: A Star Wars Story, and would definitely watch it again. But I'm also not dumb (shut up, I'm not), and I know when a movie has serious flaws.
Even when I can't figure out what they are.
"Who's the girl? Does Leia know about this?"
Let's face it, as soon as you heard the name of this movie you knew what it would be about. Sure enough, we get an origin story, with Alden Ehrenreich playing a young Han Solo trapped on his home world, which seems entirely taken over by spaceship building industries. (On a related note, the Star Wars universe is even worse than other science fiction ventures in having a world be just a region. A desert world, a snow world, a city world ... don't any of these planets have other continents? How does an entire world have just one climate?)
Han is a small time crook who, even back then, should never be told the odds, and he just wants to get off-planet with his girlfriend (!) and become a pilot. But things go horribly wrong, and now he's sworn to return after joining the first organization that will give him the pilot training he needs. Not his first bad decision, and not his last.
Although there are surprises along the way, the rest of the story pretty much hits the beats we expect: Han makes friends with a big walking carpet, meets a certain charming swindler who owns a certain ship, gets a gun, learns not to trust anyone, gets first shot at the Kessel Run, so on, so forth ...
It is fun seeing the way some of our beloved conventions about Han come about, and there are indeed some surprises along the way. And a few big surprises. (One of my favorites was finding out just how the Millennium Falcon ended up with such a superior navigation computer.) Yes, "fun" fits--it was fun, and I'll happily sit down to watch it again.
"Chewie, change the light bulbs!"
But Solo: A Star Wars Story just didn't ... gel. For one thing, the movie seemed too dark. I don't mean in tone--I mean it literally seemed dark for long portions of the film--maybe it was the theater where I saw it. The effects and score were good, but not great, which also covers the plot and just about everything else. Alden Ehrenreich did a credible job, but do you want to be the guy who follows Harrison Ford? Me neither.
The rest of the cast did well, especially Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, and Donald Glover, who, despite what others have said, made a great Lando Calrissian. We also get Paul Bettany, who's provides us a fun villain in Dryden Vos.
"If this doesn't work out, I'm thinking of playing Indiana Jones."
I suspect if it had been made independent of a franchise, Solo: A Star Wars Story would be considered good space opera. But it wasn't, and as Star Wars movies go it seems weak ... not to mention a whole movie should have been devoted to Han and Chewie forming a friendship, rather than a few scenes.
Entertainment Value: 3 out of 4 M&Ms. Great action sequences, good cast, missing the heart that made the early Star Wars movies so great. Hardcore Star Wars fans have devolved into a mutual hatred society, so I might have liked it more because I'm more of a casual fan.
Oscar Potential: 1 out of 4 M&Ms. Ain't gonna happen.