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SOLO Reviews Should Put STAR WARS Fans’ Worst Fears to Rest

There was a feeling of pleasant surprise among the overwhelmingly positive first reactions to Solo‘s world premiere last week. Between skepticism over whether anyone could fill Harrison Ford’s vest, and Lucasfilm’s shocking decision to replace directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller with Ron Howard late in the production, some were concerned Disney was about to deliver its first Star Wars flop since buying the franchise.

But there’s a big difference between first reactions–which are shared amid the glitz and glamour of a prestigious premiere–and the analytical guise of critics who have time to gather their thoughts. So with the first, full reviews for the film now out, did it live up to the opening night hype, or did getting away from the glow of the red carpet’s bright lights take some of the shine off the film? It sounds like it depends on what you were expecting from the film in the first place.

We’ll start with our own Kyle Anderson, who describes Solo as “A New Hope without the mysticism,” which he says marks an important development for the franchise.

“The Star Wars franchise under Disney and Lucasfilm is a long game, and they’ve finally learned not every movie needs to be the giant, saga-shattering puzzle piece, but instead can be a solid space adventure, like the best of what are now considered Legends. I wasn’t blown away, but I’m thoroughly compelled to watch more Solo movies, which even a week ago was not what I expected at all.”

Angie Han at Mashable says Alden Ehrenreich is no Harrison Ford, which is the best news possible about the movie, especially because it wouldn’t work if you didn’t care about Han Solo.

“Everyone who feared Ford was irreplaceable as the iconic character was right. Ehrenreich would never be mistaken for Ford in any sense. We’ve seen better impressions of Ford’s drawl on Saturday Night Live. But that’s also the great news about Solo: A Star Wars Story. Rather than try to mimic Ford’s work beat-for-beat, Ehrenreich has found a way to make the role his own, and in doing so to show us this familiar character from a fresh perspective.”

IGN‘s Jim Vejvoda says however that while the movie offers a fun time, it never really justifies why it exists in the first place.

“Its story holds precious few surprises and the title character ends this film as pretty much the same person he was when we met him at the beginning — without quite becoming the person Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi found and pulled out of a wretched hive of scum and villainy on Tatooine. It’s a good thing, then, that the movie remains at least entertaining enough to keep one engaged through all the rote story beats of learning how Han Solo acquired the Millennium Falcon or met Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian.”

At CBR, Meg Downey writes the movie will exceed fans worst fears, but it won’t soar to the heights of its most hopeful viewers, partly because it won’t stop over-explaining things to them.

“Did you ever want to know why Han’s last name is “Solo?” That’s here. The origin of those chained metallic dice on the “dash” of the Falcon? That’s here, too. The Kessel Run? You betcha. Han saying he’s got a good feeling instead of a bad one? Sure thing. It’s a smorgasbord of fanservice moments that practically look directly into the camera and wink, but each time it happens, the gesture gets less and less endearing. In fact, about halfway through the relentless self-referencing and over-explanation of just about every aspect of Han’s character starts to feel less like an attempt to tell a real story and more like an honest effort to make the entire Star Wars universe seem like an engine powered by cosmic coincidences.”

Bryan Bishop at The Verge thinks the movie might definitively prove how important legendary Star Wars figure Lawrence Kasdan is to the success of the franchise.

“But like its title character pulling off a crazy scheme just in the nick of time, Solo is a swashbuckling success, a space adventure that pays homage to the DNA of the original films while carving out its own unique space in the canon. It’s a sheer delight, but it also has the courage to explore the darker aspects of a character who could have all too easily been polished to an inoffensive, family-friendly Disney sheen. Solo represents the most refined iteration yet of the new Disney/Lucasfilm formula–and cements longtime series screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan’s place as the defining voice of the Star Wars universe.”

Over at io9, Germain Lussier has high praise for the film’s cast, action, and emotional impact that he thinks fans of the galaxy far, far away will enjoy.

“Let me be clear: Solo has flaws. But those flaws pale in comparison to the rest of it. This may not be your favorite Star Wars movie, and it definitely won’t change what you think Star Wars can be. It will, however, remind you of everything you love about it and, hopefully, have you grinning like Han the first time he jumps to hyperspace.”

Alonso Duralde at The Wrap says the movie wastes strong performances from its cast with a story that feels out of place in the franchise.

“Solo” is less a movie than it’s that page in Highlights Magazine that makes you feel good for finding the chair and the bicycle in the hidden picture. As an intergalactic adventure, it’s mostly adequate, with some very successful elements, but if you stripped the “Star Wars” names and places and put it into the world as a free-standing sci-fi-action movie, it’s doubtful that it would spawn much excitement, let alone sequels.”

Entertainment Weekly‘s Chris Nashawaty liked the movie even if it didn’t achieve true greatness, possibly because the best part of the film was another character.

“Speaking of Glover, it’s no spoiler to say that the Atlanta star is easily the best thing in this good-not-great movie. More than any big action set piece or narrative double cross (and there are plenty of them thanks to a smooth crime boss played by Paul Bettany), it’s Glover’s mack-daddy, Colt 45 swagger as the rakish gambler formerly played by Billy Dee Williams that will be the thing you’ll be buzzing about after the lights come up (well, that and how much you’d rather see his standalone origin story).”

Kristy Puchko at Pajiba says it’s not a great sign one of the best characters in the galaxy plays second fiddle in his own movie.

“When the best thing about a Han Solo movie is Lando and his robot sidekick, that’s a problem, right? More specifically, that’s the problem at the center of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Somehow, Disney took one of the most charismatic characters in the universe and turned him into a plucky yet dull hero with an uninspired origin story, in which he’s outshone by all things Lando Calrissian. (And yes, that includes space capes!)”

It certainly seems like fans don’t have to worry about their biggest fears about the movie coming true, but what you expect from a Star Wars film about Han Solo will still matter when you see it.

What do you make of these reviews? Does it sound like a movie you want to see more or less? Tell us why in the comments below.

Images: Lucasfilm

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