What is a Han Solo movie?
It would be a movie about heisting something, or smuggling something, or running away when things go wrong. It’s about a pilot who is at his best when he’s found a mission with a razor-thin chance of success, and when he’s walking the line between that and failure. It’s about a man who gets in trouble, a lot. It’s where he makes his money, but it’s also where he feels most at home.
When he’s in trouble, he’s first going to lie his way out, or at least fudge the truth a little. If that doesn’t work, he’s going to fly away from the trouble, and if that is also impossible, he’s finally going to fight.
Lie. Fly. Fight.
Okay, but what about a Han Solo origin story?
Take the above, but your main character is now a little naive and also not nearly as good at being a bad guy as he makes himself out to be.
That’s the central tension in the character: Han Solo is good at being bad, but it’s not where his heart lies.
At its core, weirdly, perhaps even paradoxically, this is a movie about trying to fit in.
What Han Solo isn’t, is an ideologue. He’s not someone who cares much about who’s in charge, as long as they don’t step on his toes and he’s allowed to stay out of their way. He just wants to carve out a nice-enough life in a galaxy full of not-that-nice places.
What we’ve learned about the character from the main Star Wars movies is that Han isn’t a rebel, and, if what Episode VII tells us about him is true, he returns to a life of crime after saving the galaxy from a pair of Death Stars. That’s pretty crazy.
I’m happy to report that the screenwriters get that.
As a writer, I’m a firm believer that if you can get your story together a lot of the other pieces come together. And that’s what happened with this movie.
So, go see it.
I don’t want all of my reviews to come down to me telling you to go see it, but I think that’s one of the most telling things a reviewer can say.
“I liked it, and I think you will too, random Internet stranger.”
To be fair, I’m also telling my somewhat disheartened Star Wars-loving friends to go see it, too.
It’s a fun story, and it’s a fun movie, and it’s the first one out of the last four that came out that I left the theater thinking to myself “Wow, that really felt like a Star Wars movie. I had a really good time.”
And, that’s something that shouldn’t be ignored.
I’m a literature nerd, and so it’s hard to go into a movie and really start enjoying it. But, if the movie starts to pull me out of my head and into the story its telling, that’s great. That’s the feeling I go to the movies to feel, and it’s not one that all, or even many, movies live up to.
I also feel like I get off-track sometimes, but if you want a really literal review of a movie, there are plenty of other places to get one.
Or, maybe I should just get back on track.
This movie has received a fair amount of negative criticism.
Some of which I agree with, but while I’ll definitely acknowledge the flaws the movie has, most of them are in areas that I care little about, while the movie succeeds in most, if not all, of the areas about which I care. So, on the one hand, I think it’s important to point out that this movie isn’t perfect.
I don’t think Alden Enrenreich ever really captures the spirit of Han Solo. Or, maybe that’s not fair. He never moved, or spoke, or emoted quite like Harrison Ford would have done. That might be an unfair standard. Harrison Ford might not be one of the greatest actors ever, but he certainly had a distinctive style, which Ehrenreich never fully embodies. I didn’t like this, but some people did (warning, Spoilers!).
A second category of complaints is that their film isn’t technically perfect. Perhaps a case could be made that it isn’t even technically sound. I’ve literally heard people complaining about the lighting.
I, personally, wasn’t bothered by any of this. The movie is clearly pulled between the competing visions of original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller who were fired in favor of Ron Howard. Consequently, the movie lacks a certain amount of cohesiveness that better movies have, but it limits its scope to the point where I think it’s not really an issue. If it is, it’s an issue that doesn’t matter to me.
Finally, many people are complaining about a pseudo-feminist character in the movie.
In other circumstances, I might agree with them, but critics of this character are mistaken.
This character is portrayed as over-the-top and pretty ridiculous. The other characters clearly think this, and as a result, this character bears the brunt of most of the jokes in the movie. I don’t find them to be preachy, per se. They’re certainly outspoken, but they’re never really put on a pedestal or in a pulpit.
Furthermore, their beliefs are both reasonable given Star Wars lore and tie them into the larger universe. Beyond that, I just don’t see why the audience should take them seriously if the other characters don’t. They’re functional and funny. Leave them alone.
Overall, I like this movie.
It doesn’t bite off more than it can chew. It’s a like a teenager who isn’t trying to be someone else, and isn’t trying to be someone they’re not but hasn’t yet quite figured out who they are meant to be.
It’s a small story, a fun story, and most of all, it’s A Han Solo Story, and it worth seeing on those grounds alone.