Solo: A Star Wars Story Early Reviews - A Fun (If Bland) Spinoff

The first reviews are here for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Solo is the fourth Star Wars movie produced since Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, as well as the second Star Wars spinoff or "Story" after Rogue One. The film originally had LEGO Movie and Jump Street duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller directing from a script by Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan. Solo was just a few weeks away from wrapping production last June when Lord and Miller were dropped from the project and replaced by Ron Howard shortly after.

Rumors about how much of the movie Howard re-shot and exactly why Lord and Miller were fired have circulated ever since, but much of that feels like old hat at this point. Solo has drawn largely positive reactions so far, following its world premiere and screening at the Cannes Film Festival. Young Han Solo actor Alden Ehrenreich has also earned top marks for settling comfortably into the role previously made iconic by Harrison Ford. Meanwhile, Donald Glover (taking over from Billy Dee Williams) continues to draw raves as the film's scene-stealer and the new face of Lando Calrissian in the Star Wars universe.

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If last December's Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a celebration of the franchise that challenged its fans, then Solo is the palate cleanser that takes the series back to its roots in serial inspired adventure, judging by the initial response. Most people at the film's premiere seemed to agree that Solo succeeds in recapturing the old-fashioned fun of Star Wars movies past, with its heist storyline adding a welcome twist to the series' tropes. To find out if critics agree, read these SPOILER-FREE excerpts from the first wave of Solo reviews (click the links for the full reviews).

Molly Freeman - Screen Rant (Score: 3.5/5)

Ultimately, Solo: A Star Wars Story delivers on what was promised: an entertaining enough origin story for Han Solo that explains how he became the smuggler introduced in A New Hope. Beyond that, the movie takes very few risks and offers very few surprises. (Though, arguably, casting someone new in a role as iconic as Han Solo and attempting to deliver a prequel film that pleases fans both new and old is risky enough.)

Meg Downey - CBR (No Score)

The twangy Western gunslinger vibe conveyed by the trailers is basically completely absent. There are some elements of a heist story tossed in and about five minutes of a genuine mud-and-trenches war movie, but otherwise the story is a highlight reel of the same storytelling styles and genre conventions Star Wars has been simmering in for the last 40-some-odd years... The fact is, Solo: A Star Wars Story isn’t really concerned in making a lot of sense to people who aren’t already bought-and-sold for the Star Wars mythos as they walk in the door.

Matt Goldberg - Collider (Score: C)

Solo is technically a Star Wars movie, but it’s one that has set pieces in place of a personality. It’s a film whose base level is “fine”. Despite some unique cinematography from Bradford Young, Ron Howard’s direction is staid, stolid, and completely without personality, which is a problem when your movie is the story of a young rogue like Han Solo. Solo doesn’t do anything egregiously wrong, but it doesn’t do much right, either.

Alonso Duralde - The Wrap (No Score)

“Solo” is less a movie than it’s that page in Highlights Magazine that makes you feel good for finding the chair and the bicycle in the hidden picture. As an intergalactic adventure, it’s mostly adequate, with some very successful elements, but if you stripped the “Star Wars” names and places and put it into the world as a free-standing sci-fi-action movie, it’s doubtful that it would spawn much excitement, let alone sequels.

Solo A Star Wars Story - Emilia Clarke as Qira

Andrew Barker - Variety (No Score)

The most important thing to note about “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is that, in spite of its widely-publicized behind-the-scenes turmoil... the film is not the disaster its production history might suggest. In fact, it’s not even close. Though burdened with a slow start and enough thirsty fan-service to power Comic-Con’s Hall H for a decade, it has a kicky, kinetic heist movie at its heart, and its action sequences are machine-tooled spectacles of the first order.

Angie Han - Mashable (No Score)

Your mileage may vary, but it took this reviewer about seven minutes to decide she was fully on board with this version of Han. Which is fortunate, because Solo really only works if you care a whole lot about Han... For once, this is a Star Wars movie that's more interested in the small picture than the big one. Solo is the most intimate, ground-level Star Wars movie we've ever gotten, and the visuals are correspondingly gritty and grimy.

K. Austin Collins - Vanity Fair

For a movie plagued for months by stories of its troubled production... Solo: A Star Wars Story is a surprisingly smooth ride... It gets off to a slow, muddy, grimly predictable start - but Solo is ultimately, thankfully, one of the good ones. It ought to be: as a movie taking on one of the most likable, movie-star handsome, archetypically familiar characters in the entire galaxy, this would seem a tough property to mess up.

Ann Hornaday - Washington Post (No Score)

Written by “The Empire Strikes Back’s” Lawrence Kasdan along with his son, Jonathan, “Solo” has been conceived as a space western, with all the overcomplicated (but also childishly simple) heists and double-crosses the genre entails. But it never works up an authentic sense of risk or excitement or novelty. With the exception of one or two lines that anticipate the title character’s future adventures, the proceedings have the perfunctory air of biting into the aforementioned apple, and taking tasteful, unobjectionable nibbles.

Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca in Solo

So far, critics appear to be lukewarm to positive on Solo overall. Some reviews are noticeably more positive than others, but few critics are either raving about the film or dragging it through the mud. Most seem to agree that Ehrenreich succeeds in making his version of Han Solo different from Ford's and that Bradford Young's stylishly bleak and grounded cinematography is one of the film's strongest technical elements. And once again, most everyone loves Glover's supporting turn as Lando and is calling for him to return in the future.

The respectful but somewhat unenthusiastic response to Solo so far actually comes as a relief, following the sometimes bitterly divisive reactions to The Last Jedi just five months ago. Solo is at 70% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes after 64 reviews (with an average rating of 6.4/10) and unless things change, the movie should be "Certified Fresh" on the site in the near future (maybe even by tomorrow). That number is lower than the approval ratings for the previous three Star Wars films, with Rogue One being the second "lowest" to Solo at 85% Fresh and an average rating of 7.5/10. Still, it's nice to see that Solo isn't the critical disaster that many fans worried it would be after Lord and Miller were fired last year.

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Source: Various [see the links above]

Key Release Dates
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
  • Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
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