The crossover movie that speaks to kids and adults is a tough trick. Guardians of the Galaxy is the model. The characters have to be winning, It has to be smart but not obtuse, and what can be mutually enjoyed (action, wise-crackery) must be primo.
Solo fails all of these prerequisites. At the outset, we get “Long ago, in a galaxy far far away . . . “ Followed by several more paragraphs setting the scene and presenting the quest, which in this case, is the obtainment of everlasting life and power enough to challenge evil in the galaxy.
I’m fucking with you. The quest is for fuel. Yup. Fuel. I mean, not as bad as one of the Lucas pictures (1, or 4, who knows?), where, if memory serves, the primary issue was taxes. But still, pretty bad.
The dull goal is matched by duller characters. Young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) apes the original via the sole utilization of a smirk. He’s a better choice for a young Paul Rudd, not Harrison Ford. He’s not as bad as Hayden Christenson as Darth Vader the teen, but he’s close. After him, bad guy Paul Bettany, well, his thing is that he gets angry. And then there is Woody Harrelson, the grizzled smuggler and thief, who keeps telling Han, “Don’t trust anybody.” Then he pulls him close, points to his own head, snaps a Polaroid, waves it, blows on it, shoves it in Han’s pocket, and says “Anybody!”
After these dolts, it’s just a bunch of facsimiles of all the weird variations one can find in the galaxy. “Hey look, it’s clarinet head!” “And there’s suckhole face!” “And does he have 5 arms?” “Ah, I get it! That’s why they called him ‘handy’ a minute ago.”
And then there are the droids. In the first picture, we had the gold guy who spoke with a British accent and was amusing, like having a character from Downton Abbey in the future. He said things like “Goodness! Oh my!” and “My heavens!” whenever someone shot a laser near him. I could see a droid maker coming up with such a program, a little pizzazz in the automaton that normally performs light-dusting and household repairs.
Now, however, all droids have been imbued with feelings and opinions and agency. Who the hell wants a droid that may start a wage strike? The writers, that’s who. It’s too ridiculous, even for this pretty ridiculous vehicle.
The script itself is similarly idiotic. The characters just bounce from place to place for small and uninteresting reasons. “Who is that?” Is generally followed by a long definitional response. “That was close!” elicits “Not as close as the parseck gleep glop on Miki Roo Roo!” Characters say banal things to Solo throughout, followed by or including “kid”, as in “You got moxie, kid!” Or “I’ll give you this. The kid’s got guts.”
That leaves the action sequences, which are required to dazzle. They don’t. They’re rote and uninspired, delivered in a look dark as dishwater. Worse, the soundtrack is phoned in, as if the John Williams score was presented as Muzak on an AM radio in Harrelson’s pocket.
This entire picture feels like a 4-D Disney ride that would be fun for 7 minutes.
But trapped in it for over 2 hours? Excruciating.
And you know Han and Chewy make it. They have to. So, there’s no drama. Nothing hangs in the balance.
Donald Glover does a decent young Billy Dee Williams and Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) lends some gravitas to the endeavor.