Solo: A Star Wars Story ★★★

As has become an annual tradition, I took my dad to see this dusty space-western full of train heists, double crosses, and charismatic characters, and we had a goddamn blast. This movie is good old-fashioned swashbuckling fun, filled to the brim with creatures, costumes, and designs that tickle your brain and keep it buzzing for hours after the credits have rolled. It's a damn fine film that feels more like OG Star Wars than anything else in the Disney era (which thus far has produced three movies that feel VERY humanoid driven, as opposed to a universe populated with all forms of life). I couldn't believe just how genuinely fun this was, and how much it gave me that feeling of being 10 again. In a vacuum, as its own movie, SOLO works really well and is an absolute blast that I can't wait to come back to throughout the years. Like the original trilogy, it feels like a movie I can just have playing on my TV constantly and never truly get bored with it.

That said, SOLO doesn't exist in a vacuum, and it's keen to remind us of this as often as Corellianly possible. I don't have nearly as strong of feelings about some of these scenes as other people seem to, but they bother me none the less. The best way I can characterize this annoyance without getting into spoilers is to put it like this - I hate that Disney wants to Marvel-ize Star Wars. Star Wars, for me, is not an intricate puzzle of details that all need to be filled in so I can truly understand the grand scheme at work. Puzzles have boundaries - beginnings and endings - and while entertaining, they are inherently limited. The joy of Star Wars for me has always been that it is a universe in motion, an ever expanding world with limitless potential for stories and characters. We enter into this world in the midst of conflict that doesn't have a clear beginning or ending. By making more prequels and attempting to explain so many background details from the original trilogy, Disney is giving this universe a sense of shrinking, rather than a sense of expanding. And Star Wars should ALWAYS be an expanding universe, never a shrinking one.

There are very specific scenes that I have major issues with in this regard, but the rest can mostly be chalked up to "that's cute - I don't need it, but I'll take it." And if the quality of these prequel type movies is going to be as high as this one, I ain't mad. I'll address those specific scenes in a further, spoiler-review from my second viewing, but for now the important thing is that all the ways in which this movie aggravates me are related to its nature as a prequel, and otherwise it is solid as hell and an absolute blast at the movies. And truly, we're discovering that this fanbase almost has factions among it - those that want Star Wars to march forward into its ever expanding universe, and those that want to sink into the details of a small corner of it that they love dearly. With TLJ, Kennedy and company made a promise to my side of the fandom, that they will continue to boldly go where no one has gone before. And with SOLO they've made a promise to the other side of the fandom that they will toil away in every last detail of their beloved Skywalker franchise until there isn't a single hair on Chewbacca's body that doesn't have a 5-act hero's journey. As far as I'm concerned, as long as the movies they make for both fandoms continue to be this good, I'm mostly OK with having to gripe about some of these details every other year while still whetting my appetite for yet more wars in the stars.

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