I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, it makes me sad that while I used to be so on top of seeing movies in the theaters, it hasn’t been the kind of thing I’m reasonably able to do anymore. Sure, I could call on my mom or other babysitters to come and watch baby girl while the Boy and I went out to see a movie. But instead of using those times for going to the movies, we’ve chosen to use those occasions of free Nan-time to keep up with our theater subscription. So we’ve found ourselves waiting for things to come available on the streaming services, or through the premium channels that we have access to through our cable subscription (side note: someday we will cut the cord. It’s going to happen. Totally.)
So it should come as no surprise that I’m an avid follower of a new genre of internet article that has become increasingly important in the last few years. This is the lists of movies and television shows that are coming available or are leaving the various streaming services or premium channels. Additionally, there are websites for determining whether a movie is available for streaming or purchase on demand, and my most recent favorite of these is JustWatch.com, where you can choose your country, and then search to see what’s available where. Suffice it to say, all this is background to the fact that last month I saw that Solo: A Star Wars Story was coming available on Netflix, and since it’s a movie that the Boy and I had wanted to see in theaters, but not been able to (especially because Baby Girl was so little when it was released), we had been waiting for this moment to come around.
And it was the kind of thing that while we were anxious to watch the movie, we had also already pre-judged it a little bit (or, at least I had). Because the movie probably had a budget of around $300 million, and worldwide brought in just over that. Which, if you are “A Star Wars Story” is definitely disappointing, and worth being written about in the trade rags. So disappointing that Disney, which had been planning on churning out Star Wars content beyond the main series with other spin-offs like this one, or the Rogue One movie, cancelled all the other spin-offs going forward.
Could this movie really be that bad? The quick answer is perhaps yes and no. If you look at Rotten Tomatoes, you’ll find that the movie had a 70% approval rating from critics, and 64% approval from the audience. Obviously not the best scores, but still better than the mixed bag 91%/45% split that The Last Jedi got, and not as universally acclaimed as the 93%/87% that makes The Force Awakens such a relief after the general suckiness of the prequels. So what was the deal?
When I think about this movie, it has a few things going for it. First off, you’ve got the story of how Han Solo and Chewbacca meet. That particular scene is a terrific one, and feels very true to the story that the other movies were trying to tell. Second, you’ve got a super charismatic performance from Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. Glover steals every scene that Lando is in, and it makes the whole thing feel like a proper fun time. The third thing the movie has in it’s favor is it’s setup as a heist film. Han is a smuggler, and generally a not-so-great dude when introduced to us in the very first Star Wars movie. So it makes sense to establish him as a thief from early on.
Where the movie messes up is harder to pinpoint. Probably the most specific thing I can level against it is that too much time is spent developing (or under-developing?) characters that you get the feeling we won’t ever hear from again. There are confusing timeline issues (spoiler alert), characters who are killed off just when you’re starting to decide you’re warming up to them as characters in this universe. The plot feels a little contrived, but…I don’t know. At the same time, it is a fun movie. We didn’t come away from watching it feeling like we had wasted our time. Instead it felt more like “Huh. Ok, cool, I guess?” As in, we enjoyed ourselves, but I get the feeling that if we hadn’t seen the movie knowing what we know now about it, we wouldn’t be too sad. As in, we liked it, but not enough to encourage others to go out of their way to see it. I think the way that we watched it was probably the best possible situation – wait until it was available from a service we already use, and thus watch it “for free”. No muss, no fuss, no worrying about whether we wasted our time or money.
So – have any of you seen Solo? What did you think? Were you as disappointed as the box office seems to indicate the movie-going public was? Did you come out feeling as meh about how good a time you had while watching it? Were you confused? Disappointed? Wondering what could possibly have gone wrong? Us too friend, us too.