Solo: A (Very Bad) Star Wars Movie
I had a very frustrating experience on my way home from Solo: A Star Wars Story. Despite relatively calm traffic on a Sunday afternoon, I found myself constantly waiting at unnecessary red lights. Every time I came to an intersection, the light would change at the last second, and I would have to endure another 30-40 seconds of excruciating waiting. This is an inconsequential amount of time, but as the red light continued, my frustration grew. Around my 5th or 6th forced stop, I was struck by the realization that this was my experience with Solo: A Star Wars Story. A cavalcade of mild frustrations that, when piled on top of each other, fills me with such rage that I considered just plowing into the brown Buick Lucerne driven by an elderly white couple that just HAD to turn left and make me wait.
Let me first say the things that Solo does very well (and there are several). It is a Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, and Woody Harelson conduit that has managed to satiate my appetite for the next week or so. Each gives a serviceable performance and each finds a way to bring their characters off the page and onto the screen. I even think Alden Ehrenreich does a decent enough job and even shows a few flashes of brilliance (his first meeting with Dryden Vos in particular). There's also a nugget of a decent idea here. I want to see a young Han Solo and Lando Calrissian pull off an elaborate job with the help of their robo justice warrior sidekick, but it all completely and totally falls through.
For everything that Solo gets right, it's other flaws can be summed up in one phrase, none of it matters. Of course, everyone knows that Han and Chewy will make it out alive, they're in another 4 movies, but there are plenty of examples of great stories with inevitable endings. The sinking of the Titanic isn't any less tragic because we knew it was going to happen, and the miracle at Dunkirk isn't any less thrilling. In those movies (and many more) we have a reason to care beyond the overarching narrative of the plot. In Titanic, we care because we understand Jack and Rose and desperately want them to succeed, while Dunkirk puts you in a horrific situation with visceral detail.
Nearly every character (especially our hero) in Solo is one dimensional. We are given no reason to care about them beyond our recognition of their name. Of course, there's an attempt, but it almost always falls flat. Don't tell me that Han Solo is a good guy, show me. Rather than adding new facets to characters, every tragedy our heroes encounter is quickly forgotten to further the plot. We see no semblance of humanity in these people, instead, we see a screenwriters playthings.
There's certainly a fair amount of blame to pass around. First to the executives who fired Phil Lord and Christopher Miller the dynamic duo behind The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street, second to Ron Howard for being the directorial equivalent of a frozen store brand cheese pizza, and finally to us poor schmucks for still going to see it.
There are a handful of egregious things about Solo, the heavy-handed messaging, the incomprehensible action set pieces, the copy and paste score, the horrendously dumb opening sequence, the plot machinations, but the thing that truly makes Solo terrible is the culmination of its parts. It's a "money first" approach to filmmaking that willingly sacrifices creativity for familiarity.
It's a bad Star Wars movie because it's a bad movie.