Movie Reviews

I Rewatched Star Wars' Biggest Office Bomb, & Here Are 10 Reasons I Enjoyed It


  • Han Solo proves worthy of his own movie, with Alden Ehrenreich’s fantastic portrayal adding depth to the iconic character while Chewbacca gets a deeper story than the Wookiee is usually presented with.
  • Solo’s action sequences are consistently thrilling and the film’s production design looks phenomenal, a minor miracle given the film’s troubled production.
  • Solo’s extended cast of characters are great Star Wars additions, it has a brilliant blend of old and new Star Wars music, and nails the tone of the franchise more than any other Disney movie.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is the franchise’s biggest box office bomb to date, but upon rewatching it, I found that several elements of it unequivocally work. When I first watched Solo in May 2018, I shared the sentiments of many. I thought the film was unnecessary, yet harmless fun nonetheless. I’ll admit, I have only rewatched Solo once, back in 2019, in light of upcoming Star Wars movies like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker at the time, and my view on it changed to an extent.

I appreciated it more upon my first rewatch and found it had many redeemable elements that saw its status as Star Wars’ singular box office flop rendered underserved. From new characters like Star Wars‘ Qi’ra in Solo to the overall tone of the film, I enjoyed Solo a great deal, though I have not found myself urging to rewatch it in the five years since then. With so many upcoming Star Wars TV shows and the franchise’s return to theatrical releases imminent, Solo fell into somewhat limbo.

Unfortunately, Solo‘s inability to stand out among the mainline Skywalker Saga has only seen its perception worsen. Given that Solo does not tell a lore-altering, lightsaber-wielding story vital to the saga, it is sadly disregarded as Lucasfilm’s only flop with little merit beyond that. That said, I recently sat down to rewatch Han Solo’s big-screen adventure and found even more about the film to love. While it is certainly not the best Star Wars movie of all time, it has several fantastic elements that make its commercial failure all the tougher to bear.

10 Han Proved Worthy Of A Solo Movie

The Lovable Smuggler Proved To Be A Strong Central Character

As I alluded to, perhaps the biggest complaint issued towards Solo: A Star Wars Story is that it was unnecessary. Many did not feel like Han Solo was a character who needed an origin story, and that crafting such a movie was simply a ploy for Lucasfilm and Disney to cash in on the resurgence of Star Wars. I’ll be the first to admit that I echoed these sentiments, but a rewatch of Solo brought to light how compelling it is to see the loveable rogue’s origins, proving that he was a character who could carry his own film.

Ehrenreich is fantastic in the movie and nails the style, sound, mannerisms, and characteristics of a young Han Solo…

This is aided admirably by Alden Ehrenreich, the actor who had the unenviable task of following in the footsteps of Harrison Ford. Ehrenreich is fantastic in the movie and nails the style, sound, mannerisms, and characteristics of a young Han Solo. Seeing how the character got his iconic blaster, his name, his outlook on the galaxy, and his fuzzball co-pilot all elicits a sense of nostalgia for Han Solo and Star Wars, proving that a solo movie for Han simply worked.

9 Chewbacca Gets More Story Than Any Other Star Wars Movies

Han’s Wookiee Companion Is Granted An Arc Of His Own

Where Han Solo is, Chewbacca is not far behind. Star Wars instilled this belief into everyone in the original trilogy and even the sequels, yet subconsciously told us that the beloved Wookiee would have little story beyond this. Although everyone, myself included, loves Chewbacca, it is a sad reality that there is not a single movie in the Skywalker Saga that gives him any kind of character arc and I found myself shocked to realize that Chewie was just… there. He helps, he supports, and he fights for what is right, but his character has little in the way of nuance or development.

Upon rewatching Solo: A Star Wars Story, I realized this trend was finally bucked. More than any other Star Wars movie, Solo gives Chewbacca depth. Seeing the Wookiee go from an enslaved monster to a Wookiee without a home and evolving into a friend of Han, a freedom fighter, and someone who finds home in a fellow wanderer is one of Solo‘s best aspects. This arc recontextualizes every Chewie appearance in retrospect, showing how his origin in Solo sees him become the ever-present, beloved companion of Han Solo and, after him, Rey Skywalker.


We’re So Glad Chewbacca’s Absurd Death Isn’t Star Wars Canon Anymore

Han Solo’s beloved Wookiee sidekick Chewbacca survived the Star Wars sequel trilogy, thankfully re-writing his almost comical demise from Legends.

8 Solo’s Extended Cast Is Fantastic & Has Great Chemistry

Solo’s Ensemble Deserves All The Praise

Beyond Han and Chewie, a rewatch of Solo reminded me how great the rest of the cast is. Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover, and Paul Bettany are all brilliant in the film and add a lot to Star Wars. Clarke’s Qi’ira and Harrelson’s Beckett have fascinating relationships with Han that each dwells in a gray area full of love, deceit, admiration, worry, and greed. In a franchise that is so often light vs. dark, good vs. bad, Jedi vs. Sith, I found the morally gray connections between Qi’ra, Beckett, and Han to be refreshingly great.

Qi’ra is set to appear in an upcoming Star Wars canon video game, Star Wars Outlaws, scheduled for release in August 2024.

Above all others, Donald Glover is a shining light of Solo‘s cast. He perfectly captures the mannerisms and sound of Billy Dee Williams, and watching the beginnings of his relationship with Ehrenreich’s Han is a joy. While Paul Bettany’s Dryden Vos is not a focal point of the film, he fills the antagonistic role well. Bettany brings the required amount of threat, menace, and sleazy politeness needed for a crime boss, and sports an amazing design of facial scars that glow and expand as his tempers rise. Without these cast members, and the ones not mentioned, Solo would not work.

7 Solo’s Action Sequences Are Always Exciting & Well-Crafted

Solo Does Not Have A Single Dull Action Scene

The strong cast and their character arcs are elements of Solo that I knew were great on my first watch. However, only after the recent second rewatch did I realize how equally strong Solo‘s action sequences are. To take things one step further, Solo is not like most Hollywood films where some action sequences are great, some are okay, and others do not work as well; every single action sequence in Solo: A Star Wars Story is thrilling.

The opening Corellia chase sequence is fantastic, with stylish editing reminiscent of The Fast and the Furious, long takes, and a dynamic camera that captures the sense of speed perfectly. The Empire battle sequence after Han joins the tyrannical organization also has a sense of style, contrasting with the sleek depiction of Corellia with a dark, dreary, boots-on-the-ground war scene. Then there is the train heist, which employs a similar fluid camera style with long takes and a breakneck pace.

The ensuing Kessel Run in the Millennium Falcon is a perfect Star Wars action sequence…

Undoubtedly, the crowning jewel of Solo‘s action sequences, however, is the Kessel Run. The skirmish on the surface of the planet begins as a droid rebellion with exciting gun fights and a notably badass scene from Lando in which the camera follows him through the chaos to reach L3. The ensuing Kessel Run in the Millennium Falcon is a perfect Star Wars action sequence complete with dogfights, chase scenes, fantastic CGI, otherworldly environments, and the tense escape from the Maw.

6 Solo Has A Great Mix Of New & Old Star Wars Music

John Powell & John Williams Collaborate For A Brilliant Star Wars Score

Han Solo's character poster from Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

As everyone is aware, Star Wars‘ music contains some of the most iconic musical scores of all time which caused many to worry when John Williams was confirmed not to return to score Disney’s anthology movies, including Solo. However, when I first heard who was scoring Solo back in 2018, I did not share those same worries. The composer for Solo is the great John Powell, who composed my favorite film score of all time for 2010’s How to Train Your Dragon. Throughout Solo, Powell strikes the perfect balance between old and new Star Wars music.

John William’s “TIE Fighter Attack” and “The Asteroid Field” are remixed and laced throughout Solo’s Kessel Run sequence.

John Williams’ Star Wars themes are often brilliant and the same can be said for his Han Solo melody, as it can for Powell’s new leitmotifs for Enfys Nest and Dryden Vos/Crimson Dawn. When rewatching Solo, two moments stood out to me concerning music, causing goosebumps to flood my entire body. The moment in which the Millennium Falcon is revealed includes a rendition of the classic Star Wars theme that instantly induces chills, as does another use of the Star Wars fanfare when Chewie and Han first sit in the Falcon’s cockpit together.

5 Solo’s Production Quality Never Wavers

Solo’s Production Issues Somehow Didn’t Affect Its Quality

The Falcon makes the Kessel Run in Solo A Star Wars Story

With Solo having so many evident qualities, it is worth mentioning how much of a miracle it is that this is the case. I remember my excitement for Solo wavering back when the project was in production when directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were replaced by Ron Howard. This was not a slight at Howard, and I love a lot of his work, but mostly reservations about the film being split between two very contrasting visions after having 70% of scenes reshot by Howard, skyrocketing Solo’s budget in the process.

Despite this troubled production, the quality of Solo is a testament to the film and those involved in crafting it. Solo always looks fantastic, from practical effects and CG aliens to the otherworldly environments and expensive sets. Admittedly, my surprise at how beautiful Solo looks may come due to the era of Star Wars TV shows which, while not looking terrible, often do not reflect their production costs. The same cannot be said for Solo, which does not have a single moment of poor CGI or face any criticisms of looking cheap.


Star Wars: How Much Every Live-Action Disney+ TV Show Costs, Explained

The Star Wars franchise has expanded its narrative ambitions significantly by delving into live-action TV. But how much did each show cost to make?

4 Solo Adds A Lot Of Context To Star Wars’ Iconic Characters

Several Moments From Solo Add Depth To Star Wars Characters

Considering the film is a prequel to the original trilogy, I forgot how much context Solo adds to the original three films. Chewie and Han’s first meeting is one scene I never expected to see in Solo, but appreciate nonetheless. The same can be said for Han and Lando’s introduction, which adds a wealth of context to their antagonistic brotherhood in The Empire Strikes Back. Even throwaway original trilogy mentions like the Kessel Run and the Millennium Falcon having a “peculiar dialect” are recontextualized via Solo‘s central heist and L3 being embedded into the ship’s navicomputer.

Where Solo works most in terms of original trilogy context, however, is by adding more to Han’s character. Beckett’s lesson of assuming everyone will betray you and Han’s reply that it seems like a lonely way to live explains why Han trusts no one other than Chewie in A New Hope. Similarly, Han’s relationship and heartbreak at Qi’ra’s hands explain his laid-back demeanor with Leia in the OT. That is without mentioning the symbolism of Han’s iconic dice decorations in the Falcon which, after Solo, mean so much more and make original trilogy rewatches even better with added depth to a major character.

3 Solo’s Tone Is Perfect

It Balances Light, Dark, And Feels A Lot Like Pure Star Wars

Alden Ehrenreich in battle in Solo A Star Wars Story

When new Star Wars stories are at their best, it is often because they strike a new tone and feeling between what has come before and what is new and refreshing. In my opinion, Solo does this better than every single Disney Star Wars movie thus far. Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker were too focused on nostalgia and repeating past movies, while Star Wars: The Last Jedi arguably leaned too much into new territory. Rogue One,Solo‘s peer in the world of anthologies, is tied massively to A New Hope, meaning it finds it difficult to differentiate itself.

The underworld vibes and heist story offer a different overall tone to any other
Star Wars
movie, but that does not stop the film from having a classic
Star Wars

With Solo, a perfect balance is struck. The underworld vibes and heist story offer a different overall tone to any other Star Wars movie, but that does not stop the film from having a classic Star Wars feel. The latter is achieved through pure fun, a family-friendly tone that works for both children and adults and pure Star Wars thematic elements like fighting against oppression and darkness.

2 Solo Was The First Star Wars Movie To Involve TV Elements

Solo’s TV-Centric Elements Are Rarely Found In Star Wars Movies

One of Solo‘s standouts is the elements of the film that are taken directly from Star Wars TV shows. This alone could be a quality about Solo that works, but what struck me as even more shocking is that the film is the only movie in the Skywalker Saga to implement these aspects. Since Star Wars‘ many TV shows began, they have often been retroactively fit into the continuity, story beats, and character arcs of things introduced first in Star Wars movies. With Solo, however, the opposite is true.

The underworld-centric storyline of Solo: A Star Wars Story is ripped directly from Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ timeline. Only in the latter project is it mentioned that Darth Maul eventually became a crime lord, with Solo building off of storylines such as this. This is a refreshing change of pace for the Star Wars franchise, which so often uses TV shows to flesh out movies. Via Solo‘s story elements, a movie is used to build upon a Star Wars TV show.


Complete Timeline Of All Star Wars TV Shows

There are several TV shows in the Star Wars canon. Here’s a breakdown of every finished, ongoing, and upcoming Star Wars show in chronological order.

1 Maul’s Set-Up Was Amazing & Made For Perfect Solo 2 Teases

The Former Dark Lord Should Have Been A Main Antagonist Of Solo 2

Finally, the last major quality of Solo was the resurgence of Maul. Maul’s inclusion in the final scene of Solo was a massive surprise to anyone, even those like me who were aware he was alive due to extended Skywalker Saga material in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. When rewatching the film, I realized how well Maul’s cameo was foreshadowed. There are several pointed hints from those associated with Crimson Dawn that someone more dangerous than them gives the orders, culminating in the reveal that this unseen force is a former Sith Lord.

Solo‘s box office woes are much more tragic when knowing that Maul’s inclusion was planned to continue. The return of Ray Park as Maul’s physical appearance and the voice of The Clone Wars’ Sam Witwer means Maul looked and sounded better than ever, and a sequel story showing Han and Chewie in the middle of a crime boss war is incredibly compelling. Unfortunately, Solo: A Star Wars Story did not perform well and left me and many others with one phrase on our lips: make Solo 2 happen!

Solo A Star Wars Story Movie Poster

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a spin-off of the Star Wars franchise that focuses on the early years of Han Solo, with Alden Ehrenreich replacing Harrison Ford as the iconic smuggler. The movie explores how Han met Chewbacca, acquired the Millennium Falcon, and became the roguish smuggler fans know and love. Donald Glover brings back Lando Calrissian, Woody Harrelson plays Tobias Beckett, Emilia Clarke portrays Qi’ra, and Paul Bettany embodies the crime lord Dryden Vos.

Release Date
May 10, 2018


Back to top button