My long-winded thoughts on Solo (and background)..
First, I wasn’t as offended by TLJ as some. I hated Luke tossing the saber, the extra 45m dedicated to Finn and Rose, and the plot holes, but the overall arc for Luke didn’t bother me as much as it did others. It’s the first time I’m not looking forward to watching a SW movie in the home setting (as evidenced by not even purchasing it to date), and I would consider it my second least-favorite (behind only Ep2).
Solo – I had really high expectations from the trailers. Solo is probably my favorite fictional character ever. Lando is the the character I’d most like to see more. Donald Glover wearing fur in a stoic pose in the trailer made me think it really had a shot.
I avoided most material leading up to the movie. I saw the trailer, and I thought it looked promising. We lined up a babysitter and made our plans. We were committed. While bored, I checked to see the reviews the movie was receiving. Low 70s, and the worst reviewed SW movie since whatever. Yikes. My expectations were shattered, and I went in expecting to be disappointed.
Our timing was poor, and we ended up having to eat dinner at the theater rather than going out before the show. That meant eating lackluster over-priced cinema fare, but it also meant that we would be able to see the camaraderie at the theater before the showing!… wait… where is everyone? The environment felt pretty stale when we walked in. Darth Vader and 2 Storm Troopers were there, along with a character I didn’t recognize (later found out he was meant to be the main villain from this movie). There were so few people to demand their attention that I actually feared for a minute that we’d have to interact with them while we used the kiosk to grab our preordered tickets – but we must have done a good enough job ignoring them. It felt like there had been a half-hearted effort to create some excitement, and it just didn’t take and felt very forced.
The theater wasn’t even full. We were in the Ultra Screen theater at 7pm on a Friday night opening weekend. The 2 seats to my right were both empty, and there were other scattered empty spaces throughout the theater. This was in the Madison areas newest, most cutting-edge theater. Non-sequitor: I hate most previews, as I feel like it’s seeing a (often better) 2-minutre version of the movie, but the Queen movie looks great! The guy adjacent to my wife let out the theater’s only “woo!”, which one other excitable fan echoed in reply. That was it, except a few grumbles.
The movie opens and I feel like the first thing everyone is watching for is whether we’re convinced that Alden is Han Solo (or Harrison Ford). I think the first scene does well to make us believe he is Solo. I spent most of the movie watching mannerisms and speech patterns very closely. Overall I think he captured Han Solo, and (probably to his credit) refrained from trying to do a Harrison Ford impersonation. To that point, it was less distracting than I expected, and he never allowed me to persuade myself that I was watching an imposter.
Lando was good, but to me it felt like Donald Glover was doing a bit of an impression, but still did capture the style of Lando. L3 was pretty annoying as a character, but thankfully she was really the only one, and didn’t have a huge role. I actually found her equally annoying to the droid from R1 (but most people loved him).
I had fun. It was a good ride. My annoyances lie in things others tend to like – mention of the Tanaka sisters and Bossk.. cool and everything, but it also makes the world feel that much smaller to me, and takes me out of the moment for a second. The mention of Teras Kai on the other hand was pretty cool! I think I was one of a dozen people that played that game growing up. I’m inconsistent on what easter eggs I like, I suppose, so that’s on me.
In contrast to TLJ, I can’t wait to get this movie into my home. The theater experience isn’t one I particularly enjoy. The sound is usually pretty great, but the seats where the effect is best felt are at a premium. The picture quality to me is lackluster, especially for space scenes. Maybe it’s where I’m sitting, but the colors look washed and the blacks are gray and poorly defined. My $600 TCL at home (love it) does a much better job of producing a quality picture. I can also control the volume to my liking, and I don’t have to pay $8 for a beer. SW is the only movie I’ve gone to the theater for over the past 4-5 years. I don’t have fatigue. I want more, but I want them to be high-quality.
I can’t believe that I enjoyed this movie as much as I did, and I can’t understand how they would have let their keystone product suffer at the hands of Rian Johnson. He does seem hell bent on “tearing apart the past” or whatever, and hasn’t been subtle in that message. I’ll take more Ron Howard any day.