First (really third) thoughts on Solo: A Star Wars Story

With me, when a new Star Wars movie comes out on DVD/streaming, the question is not whether I will purchase it, but when. Though it became available Saturday night, I had to wait until last night to purchase access to Solo: A Star Wars Story due to conflicts (which included my eager interest in the current offering from PBS Masterpiece on Sunday night: part 2 of The Miniaturist – very unexpected and highly recommended!).

I saw Solo only twice in the cinema, not because I didn’t love it (I did!) but because of timing, and the annoying lack of people as excited about it as I was. So last night I had my third viewing, managing to watch about a third of the film and wanted to share these thoughts. 

  1. The land speeder Han steals in the opening scene is cooler than I remember, and I’ll be purchasing the LEGO version “for my child” at the earliest gift-giving opportunity. (Shh, don’t tell him.)
  2. Han’s experience of war is bad. Really bad. It seems as if the filmmakers went out of their way to make Han’s experience of war the most abysmally mundane experience possible, complete with incompetent leadership, pointless-seeming maneuvers, criminality and explosions everywhere (not Han’s preferred method of “flying”). And mud, plenty of mud. Without turning the war scenes in Solo into a nightmarish, morbid diatribe against war as a concept (a difficult move for a franchise called “Star Wars”), the filmmakers successfully created a dark, futile and depressing war experience for Han that gives his later (earlier? prequel-speak is so confusing) reluctance to join the Rebellion in A New Hope a much firmer context. Turns out Han from ANH is not just a coward, as our instincts always told us. He’s got experience of war (really muddy, stupid experience) under his belt to draw on in his decision, and that makes him a slightly more sympathetic, if still roguish character to a viewer who is taking a very long view of the franchise.
  3. Enfys Nest and her crew are first described as “Marauders”. This is an equivocal term for audiences populated by the Harry Potter generation, and of course it is a pointer to Enfys’ increasing ambivalence and eventually ironic role in the narrative of Solo. More on that another time. You can hear more about the intersection of Harry Potter and Star Wars (and a fresher take on Solo) in Episode 12 of the podcast Reading, Writing, Rowling, on which I was a guest.

That’s it for now. More Solo to enjoy! Share your thoughts about the film in the comments below.

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