‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ is exactly what it should be

I’ve seen all ten of the Star Wars films. I played the Pit Droids and Bounter Hunter games. I’ve been meaning to watch the Clone Wars and Rebels TV series, although I did watch Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars in 2003. I actively browse /r/PrequelMemes on Reddit. Although I haven’t learned any of the Star Wars languages or read any of the novels, I’m a fan of the series.

I was a little disappointed to see some of the initial criticism that Solo: A Star Wars Story received. I’ll admit that even I was skeptical when I heard that another Star Wars film would be debuting so soon after Episode VIII: The Last Jedi in December. However, I was pleasantly surprised after seeing it a couple of days ago. (Spoilers below.)

In a sense, it’s not really fair to compare this to the eight already-debuted main Star Wars films, but rather to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story released in 2016. These anthology films are not (necessarily?) intended to have sequels, but instead to explain aspects of the (canon) Star Wars universe. They operate on a different scale.

In short, Rogue One fell short for two reasons: it was too complicated and forced too much fan service. There were a ton of characters–virtually all of whom die in the end of the film–and none of them were particularly likable or relatable. When their deaths occur, there’s no emotional punch because the audience feels no strong connection to them.

Rogue One also had too many throwbacks to the other films in the series. They were not subtle, nor were they as clever as they intended them to be. Thus, they had the unintended effect of breaking the fourth wall.

Luckily, Solo had none of those problems. Walking in, audience members already knew Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando. Less than a handful of other main characters are added in, but none of them attempt to steal the show. It just works. And while there certainly was fan service, it was mostly subtle and enjoyable.

The ending with Darth Maul was interesting. I know enough about the Star Wars TV series to know that he didn’t really die in Episode I: The Phantom Menace, but I don’t really know much more than that. It leaves it open for a sequel to Solo, but it also creates the possibility for a movie with Maul in it. I’d watch it!