Last May, Disney and Lucasfilm committed a crime against humanity that almost went overlooked. Seven months after the first (and last) time I watched it, Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) still keeps me up at night, but I consider it my journalistic duty to break down exactly why it is the worst movie released in the past year. This film is an act of disrespect not only to Star Wars fans everywhere but to the legacy of Han Solo himself. Solo is missing the work of four decades of character building that makes the crass pilot such a delight to watch, any kinds of stakes in the outcome of the film, and an ensemble interesting enough to hold a viewer’s attention.
Since A New Hope (1977), Han Solo has been a snarky icon who is always the coolest guy in the room and has a (deeply hidden) sensitive streak. The worst thing about Solo is that everyone’s favorite space smuggler is not even the most interesting part of his own feature film. In this movie, Han (Alden Ehrenreich) is the definition of a one-dimensional character. He fails to learn from his actions, to respond appropriately to major plot developments (hello, the final scene with love interest Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke)!), or to develop at all as a person. This is not the Han Solo of the iconic “I love you”/“I know” scene from The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Solo director Ron Howard’s Han Solo is simply a stick figure, hurling lukewarm one-liners across a galaxy that seems so painfully empty it’s unrecognizable as the captivating universe George Lucas dreamed up.
While Solo’s script creates little for Han to work with, it doesn’t help that he is portrayed by an actor that is as interesting as a root canal. Maybe it’s unfair to ask anyone to tackle a role perfected by Harrison Ford, but Alden Ehrenreich is such a dull Han Solo that Howard could’ve pulled any moderately attractive white man off the street to play his part and no one would know the difference. Amongst charismatic talents like Woody Harrelson and Donald Glover, Ehrenreich is simply not engaging enough to carry a boring, flat role. While the original trilogy found Ford running away with the spotlight in countless moments, Harrelson and Glover absolutely steamroll Ehrenreich in every scene they share together. It’s hard to believe that a Han Solo who can’t carry his own movie will later team up with one of the greatest Jedis to ever live to save the galaxy.
Maybe it is the fact that viewers know that Solo will go on to pilot the Millenium Falcon that makes the film so boring. As his flirtation with Qi’ra blossoms and he tangles with Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), the stakes are relatively low. Yes, he might be attracted to Qi’ra in this movie, but what’s a childish teenage fling compared to the epic romance that every Star Wars fan knows he will later share with Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher)? And Glover is a striking Lando for the moment, but his performance is really just a fun nod to the genius Billy Dee Williams who originated the role in The Empire Strikes Back. Sure, the idea of revisiting Han’s childhood and seeing what drove him to crime is appealing, but Solo wastes too much time on relationships and Easter eggs to actually do his origin story justice.
Solo also spectacularly undoes all of the work that Lucasfilm and Disney have put in to diversify the franchise since The Force Awakens (2015). There are two women of color in the film, with one dying quickly and the other spending most of the film in a mask. The movie fails the Bechdel test so hard it almost seems purposeful. Solo’s love interest, Qi’ra, feels more like a prop than an actual character, and L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), the gang’s feminist robot, is nothing more than a target for constant “social justice warrior” digs. L3-37’s bustling feminist proclamations seem like jokes in the same way that C3-PO’s (Anthony Daniels) nervous, pompous tirades do: she’s just a silly robot who fails to understand the complexities of human life. While C3-PO’s punchlines work, L3-37’s don’t land in a movie that fails to create female characters with much purpose. Then again, maybe Solo is a win for women—their plotlines and personalities are just as stale as those of their male counterparts. The only reason that Solo escaped the fan backlash it deserved is the fact that 40-year-old gamer bros were still preoccupied with their rage over The Last Jedi (2017). Honestly, it’s inexplicable that anyone could spend time and energy hating Episode VIII when Solo exists.
Solo is not only the worst Star Wars film, but quite possibly the worst film released in all of 2018. Solo makes the much-hated A Phantom Menace (1999), Attack of the Clones (2002), and Revenge of the Sith (2005) look like Oscar-winning masterpieces. Ehrenreich’s Han Solo gives Jar Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) the mantle of a complex, heartwarming character worthy of love. Solo was so bad that it literally stopped the Boba Fett spinoff that I was looking forward to from happening. So, my friends, when tallying up the many losses our world took in 2018, don’t forget about Solo: A Star Wars Story. Don’t rob our favorite space cowboy of his well-earned place in bad movie history. And Disney, please don’t ever try anything like this again.
It’s a shame that you didn’t point the finger towards the real culprits if this disaster – Lawrence and Jake Kasdan. Their script of wall-to-wall fitted action belied how weak and transparent the story actually is. Despite polishing up “THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK” where the Solo character owes much to Harrison Ford’s input, Lawrence Kasdan has decided that Solo is really the simple idiot as he wrote him in “RETURN OF THE JEDI” and co-wrote for “THE FORCE AWAKENS”. It is unfortunate therefore that that he has stated that Solo is his “favourite” character – something “shared” by J J Abrams, and we all know what happened there …