Solo: A Star Wars Story ★★★

For better and often worse, they finally made a Star Wars movie that feels like all those 90's extended universe novels. It's loaded to the gills with the kind of fan service that has been the founding principle of the Disney Star Wars. Some of these references are fun (Teräs Käsi, the way Lando says Han's name), some deeply misguided (the origin of "Solo"), and some inevitable (the Kessel run, "a big gangster on Tatooine").

I definitely understand the backlash on this one. It's oddly cast and isarguably the worst written movie in a franchise that has never exactly been strong in that department. The pacing is a mess and characters are introduced and killed off with little rhyme or reason. Just as things look like we're going to get a relatively standalone installment in an increasingly unwieldy franchise, we get taken to yet another nondescript desert planet (they make up, at conservative estimate, two thirds of this particular galaxy) and get subjected to a whole bunch of sequel fodder nonsense.

All that said, this is probably the most fun I've had with a new Star Wars since Phantom Menace and definitely since Revenge of the Sith and both of those had extenuating circumstances. Phantom Menace came out a few days before my twelfth birthday and the combination of excitement over new Star Wars of any kind, getting to see it in theaters multiple times, and y'know being twelve carried me through. I saw Revenge under the influence of a substantial amount of illicit substances. Solo is a bit different.

I grew up in the odd twilight years of Star Wars. We had novels, comic books, and toys but it still felt like a shrinking niche for die hard weirdos. The quality was neither particularly high or consistent but that didn't matter, it was STAR WARS. I still remember completely buying into the Shadows of the Empire, the mediocre novel that gave us an everything but an actual movie marketing blitz and included such characters as Dash Rendar (he's Han Solo but he has a beard and is a redhead!) and Prince Xizor (a crime lord that could secrete pheremones!). Solo feels like something from that time, hackery and all.

This Han Solo doesn't feel like my Solo (the one I remember is much more charismatic and a lot more scuzzy) but this feels pretty close to my Star Wars.

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