The muchly discussed Han Solo prequel, Solo, is out in theaters now and it is hard to know exactly how to quantify my feelings about it.... possibly because I was drunk when I watched it in a nearly empty Indonesian theater.
The first sign that something was amiss was when I entered the theater and there was nobody in it. I have watched many studio franchise blockbusters here in Indonesia, and the theaters were always PACKED. For Infinity War, every single screen in the theater was showing only that film, no small feat in a country with as much love of protectionism as Indonesia. I mean, even Peter Rabbit turned out a decent crowd. So that was an ominous sign, and indeed the film went on to plunderously awful box office, particularly overseas. Now, for normal human beings, a film that makes several hundred millions of dollars would seem to be an unqualified success. But you have to weigh it against the cost of producing the movie, which was reportedly $250 million. You also have to weigh it against the success of the franchise as a whole since it's been in Disney's hands, in which case the bar is very, very high. But Solo should have at least been somewhere in the ballpark of Rogue One, if it was to please its corporate overlords. Not even close.
Part of this can be traced directly to the film's batshit production history where Disney fired meatball-visionaries Lord and Miller for basically making a comedy (?), hired Ron Howard, re-shot the entire movie (which no doubt explains that obscene budget), and had an acting coach brought in to teach relative newcomer Alden Ehrenreich how to be both a leading man in an enormous blockbuster, and an accomplished cultural icon/Harrison Ford impressionist. With all that baggage and bad press at its back, the film seemed almost destined to be a flop.
And yet, the movie itself is pretty good. The world-building is excellent, diving into the seedy underworld of the Star Wars universe. The effects are great, the action sequences are for the most part brilliantly staged, no complaints about the acting, Donald Glover was pretty great, hey wait, is that Darth ****!? I mean, it was a little hard for me to concentrate and hold my attention as I had just knocked back four big bottles of Bintang, but I was decently entertained by the spectacle.
And yet, as I was watching it there was a little nagging voice in the back of my head saying, This isn't Han Solo. This is Hobie Doyle pretending to be Han Solo. As much as I didn't want to have those thoughts, because re-casting iconic parts is practically a rite of passage in Hollywood, I couldn't keep them down. And I just generally didn't feel like I needed or even wanted to know about how Han got the last-name Solo, or how he met Chewbacca, or anything about the Kessel Run. Like that one oblique reference that Obi-Wan makes to the Clone Wars, these mythical back-stories are so much better when hinted at and left to the depth of our own imaginations, rather than spelled out for us explicitly as if we are too stupid and lazy and un-creative to be satisfied otherwise.
The whole experience left me asking one question: Why? Why are they making this film? Why do we need this? Why, when you have such an immense wealth of intellectual property in your laps, are you coming back to this well? These complaints are well-established by fans and critics of the movie. And the film's disappointing box office may indeed spell doom for the other big stand-alone films that are apparently going to flesh out Obi-Wan's character arc and, for some unfathomable reason, give us Boba Fett's origin story.
And that would be a good thing. Boba Fett has been perhaps the most enduring one-hit wonder in the entire American cultural lexicon, inspiring massive amounts of creative output based on three-lines spoken by a helmeted dildo who gets knocked into a giant sand vagina and eaten BY ACCIDENT. We don't need a whole movie about how he became a bounty hunter after the Empire made a million clones of his... father? Did I get that right? Who cares! The point is, the best part of Solo was the world-building. Because the Star Wars universe is such a rich place for creating fantastical settings and stories, full of space wizards and aliens and weird planets and seedy underworlds and all sorts of cool shit. Once Disney finally gets the balls to start branching out into that world and exploring it, without feeling the need to explain how a tertiary character from The Empire Strikes Back got his Father Complex, I think I will finally, blissfully feel satisfied.
TLDR: No point to this movie. Start making a Knights of the Old Republic triology.