Solo: A Star Wars Story reviews range from 'dull and dutiful' to 'consistently entertaining'
She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.
Solo: A Star Wars Story made its international premiere Tuesday at the Cannes Film Festival, and shortly thereafter, the first reviews for the standalone movie hit the internet. The film’s been under intense scrutiny from Star Wars fans ever since it was announced — scrutiny that only heightened when original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were abruptly fired and replaced with Ron Howard in the middle of shooting. (Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan wrote the script.)
But despite all the behind-the-scenes drama, Solo has finally made it to the screen, and the reactions are mostly positive, if mixed. According to the first reviews, it seems like the film isn’t all that different from the Millennium Falcon herself — a little rough around the edges and kind of clunky in places, but ultimately able to get the job done.
EW’s Chris Nashawaty gave the film a B, calling it a “good-not-great movie” where the parts that worked (like Han’s friendship with Chewbacca or Donald Glover’s swaggering Lando Calrissian) outshone the parts that didn’t (like the romantic subplot between Han and Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra). Still, he writes, “it’s all fun and rollicking enough until you walk out of the theater into the daylight and realize just how trivial and insignificant it all really is.”
Before Solo: A Star Wars Story flies into theaters on May 25, check out a few (spoiler-free!) review excerpts below.
Chris Nashawaty, EW: “What you’re really left with, apart from a yearning for the young Ford at his most cavalier, is a slightly fuller and more rounded understanding of who Han Solo is – where he came from, what makes him tick, and how he’d much prefer to shower alone than with a Wookiee. In other words, it’s pure fan service. And if that’s what you’re after, then you’ll be more than satisfied. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for the sort of jaw-dropping visual grandeur and epic poetry of The Last Jedi (not to mention the original trilogy), then you’ll probably be a little nonplussed. Solo feels like a placeholder, a wafer-thin palate cleanser before the next big course. It’s the very definition of ‘solid’ and ‘competent.’ Nothing more, nothing less. Trust me.”
A.O. Scott, The New York Times: “I don’t want to make this about me, but there are a lot of questions that, in the 41 years since I saw the first Star Wars movie — fine! the fourth one; “A New Hope”; jeez! — it has never occurred to me to ask. Where did Han Solo get his last name? How did he and Chewbacca meet? What was the winning hand in the game of Sabacc that gave him possession of the Millennium Falcon? How exactly did he make the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs? Solo: A Star Wars Story answers all of these questions and more. This isn’t a bad thing, but it makes this episode, directed by Ron Howard from a screenplay by Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan, a curiously low-stakes blockbuster, in effect a filmed Wikipedia page.”
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: “Solo: A Star Wars Story keeps throwing curveballs to distract us from the fact that we know all too well where this is heading. There’s no arguing that the actors are a likable crew, even if Harrelson, Glover and Bettany are the only three who don’t play it safe. This is a Han Solo who wants to be loved even of he doesn’t want to be liked, and when he puts his arm around the immortal Chewie it’s tough not to go ‘aww.; But only a glimmer of the hardassed charmer that Harrison Ford immortalized finds its way into this episode. Howard and the Kasdans play the series game without ever raising the stakes, defaulting to dull and dutiful when they might have blasted off into creative anarchy. Even the new score by John Powell (Jason Bourne) only soars when it samples the original John Williams theme. And somehow Han Solo – the roguish Star Wars hellion famous for breaking all the rules – finds himself in a feel-good movie that doesn’t break any.”
Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter: “Despite the intermittent lags, the production proves to be more than a salvage operation thanks mainly to those engagingly choreographed performances, led by an irresistibly charismatic title turn from Alden Ehrenreich who ultimately claims Solo as his own even if he doesn’t entirely manage to convince us he’s Harrison Ford.”
Andrew Barker, Variety: “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. Its performances, starting with Alden Ehrenreich as the young Han Solo and extending to the film-stealing Donald Glover as his wily frenemy Lando Calrissian, are consistently entertaining.”
Lindsey Bahr, AP: “There’s a lot for fans to digest as the film speeds through a check-list of Han’s origin components, like how he meets Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and how he comes across the Millennium Falcon. There are other key elements that probably are best left to the experience. And that experience, in director Ron Howard’s very capable hands, is a largely enjoyable one. You can’t help but wonder what the end result would have been if Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who were fired deep into production, had gotten to see their project through to the end, or what it would have been like had Howard been involved since the beginning, but there are no obvious cracks or seams.”
Glen Weldon, NPR: “Should you harbor burning questions about infinitesimal details of Han Solo’s backstory that are entirely and hilariously immaterial to the Star Wars saga’s broader tale, or if you’re prepping for a Han Solo-themed pub quiz, know that fan service doesn’t get more serviceable than Solo: A Star Wars Story. For everyone else: Donald Glover’s Lando is really, really smooth and funny!”
Kate Erbland, Indiewire: “Most of the film’s supporting characters introduced in the film appear in service to the Kasdans’ ever-evolving criminal tale, one that has far-reaching implications for Han. (These range from the beloved, like Donald Glover’s tremendous take on Lando Calrissian, who could easily handle his own spinoff; to the brand-new, like Lando’s whipsmart and rebellious droid L3-37, who’s played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge in scene-stealing fashion.) It’s not as dark as the franchise’s other standalone film, the satisfying and sad Rogue One, and even without lightsaber battles or Jedi or anyone aligned with the formal Rebellion, it still captures a humor and pace Star Wars audiences expect.
Alonso Duralde, TheWrap: “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.”
Kristy Puchko, Pajiba: “When the best thing about a Han Solo movie is Lando and his robot sidekick, that’s a problem, right? More specifically, that’s the problem at the center of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Somehow, Disney took one of the most charismatic characters in the universe and turned him into a plucky yet dull hero with an uninspired origin story, in which he’s outshone by all things Lando Calrissian. (And yes, that includes space capes!)”
Read EW’s full review here.