Jacob Gehman’s review published on Letterboxd:
I really like Solo: A Star Wars Story as a standalone film. Its greatest failings are those that come into play only when you look at its relationship with the original Star Wars trilogy. On its own terms it's fun sci-fi action, featuring heists, outlaws, conmen, gambling, and all sorts of shady dealings. It's got a charismatic lead, a Bond-style villain, and a sweet rapper whose character is bad at cheating. Oh yeah baby. But when you start thinking about all the things they shoehorned into the script to wink at the original Star Wars trilogy, the film starts to feel too cute. And let's be honest, the cute nods aren't just fun references; they become constant reminders of a classic trilogy that Solo could never hope to match. Shouldn't have to match. Yet the deluge of references increases the need to draw the comparisons.
Story flow is fine, acting is fine (except for Woody Harrelson, who I still find to be rather mediocre here), soundtrack is pretty OK, and I love the absence of the opening crawl exposition.
Question: Do you prefer this or the prequel trilogy?
Disney era Star Wars gets a lot of shit, but these films seem to operate on a different level of competence than (most) of the prequels. Like, I can just sit down and enjoy Solo, whereas it takes some effort to enjoy the prequels. The first two prequels have distinct highs, but some pretty cavernous valleys, while the third prequel is hard to just pull out--you gotta figure out a time when you are going to watch the two preceding films before you can zone out to the third.
I do think that there are two specific levels of watching a film:
1. The watching experience
2. The post-credits reaction experience
The former is pretty crucial; a film that isn't fun to watch kind of fails as a film. But the latter--at least, for those of us who are nerdy enough to think about films afterward--isn't an inconsequential part of the overall enjoyment. I mean, I enjoyed Solo much more than The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones while watching, but trying to write about it afterwards? Fucking brutal. Just nothing there to think about, notice, dive into. The first two paragraphs of this review are just me listing things. Could I write more about the heists? Sure. But there's no real point to it. Could I go through all the actors and compliment their performances? Yeah, why not. But I did that a bit the first time I watched, and there nothing left to say on that front. So in a lot of ways I guess the prequels do provide a lot of fodder for post-credits debate, analysis, and ruminations. The former is more important, but it does decrease the enjoyment when I come out of a film with nothing to say.