"Solo" Is The 3rd Best Star Wars Movie Ever

How to handle the origin story of every kid's favorite character? Set it in a very small part of a galaxy far, far away.

May 15, 2018

When I received an email inquiring whether I would be interested in seeing an advance screening of Solo, my response came in the form of a question: “are you asking if I would like to fulfill a childhood dream of seeing a Star Wars movie before anyone else and then telling everyone I know what I thought about it before they see it?”

After viewing Solo, I realized childhood Star Wars dreams have nothing to do with this film. It stands completely on its own merits. It is so good, it does not require watching any of the previous Star Wars films. What eventually happens to Han Solo (BENNNNNN!) is no matter. Solo is about the here and now. Yes, it fills some gaps in the Star Wars universe, but that is for fans that will see this movie regardless of any criticism or praise. What’s truly great about Solo is it can be watched on its own and enjoyed simply for the ride.

When the initial directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired 11 months ago, rumors swirled that the Solo spinoff was going to be an outright disaster. The finished project, however, is the tightest Star Wars film ever made. Ron Howard’s product begs the question: did LucasFilm simply overreact or did Howard just do the best cleanup job in film history?

Solo is straightforward. A very young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) dreams of escaping his meager beginnings with the love of his life (Emilia Clarke). Everything about Solo (and Solo) pays service to that goal. It is so simple and that’s what makes it great. The only sadness of Solo is that, like Rogue One, it is a reminder of how great the previous prequels could have been in the hands of writers and directors who grew up as fans of the franchise rather than their creator.

For the most diehard of Star Wars fans, Solo accomplishes its mission. While establishing what makes Han tick (sarcastic and selfish, but with a good heart down in there), it touches down on planets previously spoken of but never seen, nods at every previous installment of the canonic franchise (including the Clone Wars and Rebels animated series), and it answers the questions fans have always asked (what exactly IS the Kessel Run?).

Solo makes none of the mistakes seen in previous works. It is a very small footprint of that galaxy far, far away. It doesn’t get bogged down by the Force or jam dozens of characters into the script to draw the “hey, I remember that guy from [insert previous film here]!” response. In fact, Solo’s cast is very small compared to previous Star Wars incarnations. Han ends up with Tobias Beckett’s (Woody Harrelson) gang (Thandie Newton, Jon Favreau) to complete a deal with gangster Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). And that’s where Solo takes off and moves non-stop to a conclusion that will easily roll into a sequel. Yes, that’s right. The story demands Solo 2!

The best part in Solo is Lando Calrissian who Donald Glover plays perfectly. Of all the actors that have played the young version of a beloved Star Wars character, Glover’s work as Lando stands well above the others. He is pitch perfect for this movie.

Solo should serve as the blueprint for upcoming films in the franchise: Keep it simple. Make a film that doesn’t *require* previous knowledge, but includes some fun nods. Enjoy the ride.