Review: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

There’s nothing wrong with Solo: A Star Wars Story, except maybe that it comes across as completely and totally routine. It plays everything safe. Nothing really unexpected happens here. This is a competent, entertaining, well-paced and reasonably plotted space adventure. It is not bold or inventive or subversive or anything else. As so-called Star Wars "anthology movies" go (all two of them), this is a step down from Rogue One in terms of vision and ambition, even if it is inherently more fun. This is comfort food, plain and simple.

The original directors of the film, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, helmed The Lego Movie, which was inventive and subversive. They were fired well into production of Solo under the catch-all Hollywood headline of "creative differences." Franchise torch-bearer Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan — among the most grizzled Star Wars veterans still in the game — apparently did not agree with the style of the young whippersnappers.

Enter Ron Howard, who came in to replace Lord and Miller. Howard delivers a straightforward Star Wars action-adventure that fits right into this universe. He disappears as a hired pro. Aside from the obligatory cameo by his brother Clint, you wouldn’t even know he was there. John Williams is notably absent (aside from lifting key themes from Williams’ past compositions, John Powell’s score doesn’t sound as Williams-esque as Michael Giacchino’s work in Rogue One), but this movie otherwise feels like all the rest.

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