He may have been lucky enough to win the Millennium Falcon off Lando — but do reviewers think Solo: A Star Wars Story also has the Force on Han Solo's side? At long last, the release of the Ron Howard-directed entry in Disney’s expanding Star Wars universe is now mere days away, and the early reviews are warping across the internet following the movie’s press screening premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
We’re also beginning to get our first impressions of whether Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan’s Solo story — the topic of much speculation and debate amid Disney and Lucasfilm’s tightly controlled spoiler checks — holds up to the high standard set by the first standalone Star Wars film, 2016’s Gareth Edwards-directed Rogue One.
ALERT! Depending on how you define “spoilers,” some of these review excerpts may contain very light ones. Just a caution before we head into hyperdrive.
With that out of the way, let’s see if the critics are being kind to Solo: A Star Wars Story. Ready? Time to lock the door — and hope they don’t have blasters.
Variety clears the air from the start, no doubt to the great relief of everyone who’s followed Solo’s lengthy and tortuous development, including the now-infamous swap-out of Howard to replace original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
“The most important thing to note about Solo: A Star Wars Story is that…the film is not the disaster its production history might suggest,” Variety’s review reassures. “In fact, it’s not even close. 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.”
The cast also gets plenty of praise from Variety, as does the story’s “moments of real grit and something approaching interstellar realism amid all of the expectedly topnotch VFX.”
The Hollywood Reporter also favorably finds Solo “to be more than a salvage operation thanks mainly to those engagingly choreographed performances, led by an irresistibly charismatic title turn from Alden Ehrenreich,” noting that Ehrenreich may never be confused for Harrison Ford — but it turns out he makes a pretty awesome Han Solo.
Ehrenreich “captures enough of Ford’s genial swagger to earn Solo bragging rights,” the review affirms — “even if the performance could have benefited from flashing a few fewer winks.”
Entertainment Weekly's favorable review is far more muted. Calling Solo “a good (but not great) original tale” in its B letter-grade score, EW describes the movie as “pure fan service” that will please Star Wars die-hards.
But for those wanting “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,” the review cautions. “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.”
More mixed is The Wrap’s review, which calls Solo a “so-so” film with “nothing new to say” about Han’s development as a character.
Describing Solo as possibly “the least epic Star Wars movie to date,” the review gives no love to the set pieces’ length and “lack [of] narrative logic.” But The Wrap does single out Donald Glover’s turn as Lando Calrissian for praise: “…Glover sweeps this film off its feet as often as he can, swanning through it like the Cary Grant of Outer Space.”
On the whole, does it all sound encouraging? We already knew a lot of reviewers’ early impressions were trending positive, after last week’s round of social media blasts hinted at a fun movie with spot-on casting (Glover as Lando, Thandie Newton as Val, Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra, Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett, and Paul Bettany as crime boss Dryden Vos).
As of this writing, Solo: A Star Wars Story is sitting at a 72 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes’ reviewer Tomatometer. RT’s synopsis of the critics’ aggregate opinion is that Solo is a “flawed yet fun and fast-paced space adventure” that will”satisfy newcomers to the saga as well as longtime fans who check their expectations at the theater door.”
Now that we’re only days away from the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, it won’t be long before each of us gets the chance to review it on our own terms. You can bet we’ll make it to the theater in less than 12 parsecs when the next entry in the Star Wars canon takes off May 25.