Solo: A Star Wars Story is a busy movie, so much so that I didn't feel like I could absorb it all on the first viewing. I was unhappy with the ending, which is confusing, has too many twists, and ties up everything a little too neatly. This detracted from what was an otherwise a fun movie. I needed to see Solo a second time so that I could better understand the film. In fact, I caught the last showing before it disappeared from my local theaters.
Solo: A Star Wars Story starts out fun as we learn that gangsters on Corellia force kids into a life of crime. Solo looks like he is barely an adult as he schemes with his girlfriend, Kira, to escape from under the thumb of a gangster. Parts of this story aren't as logical as they could be, but we get a thrilling chase scene as Solo and Kira try to flee. Kira doesn't escape, and Solo's only way out is to join the military of the Empire.
Jump to three years later and Solo tries to desert from the Empire, meets Chewbacca, barely escapes death, and joins a gang of thieves lead by Tobias Beckett, played by Woody Harrelson. They hope to make a big score that will allow them all to retire from a life of crime, but things don't go well, which leads to a confrontation with a gangster, Dryden Voss, played by Paul Bettany who we know from the Avengers movies. They try to make a second score, which leads to further complications, including joining up with Lando Calrissian and making the famous Kessel Run.
All this is fun until the ending. On the second viewing the movie made complete sense to me, unlike the first time, and I was better able to appreciate the film and ending. I understand what they were trying to do, but the ending is still a bit too convoluted, forced, and not particularly logical given what we know about the Han Solo character and the universe he lives in.
Does Alden Ehrenreich make a good young Han Solo? I like this actor, but initially he seems unconvincing. On the second viewing it was easier for me to accept him in this role because I understood better how this character is young, naive and too optimistic. However, we have no reason to think that he would be this way given that he grew up under the worst possible conditions. He is very green, but this is not how we imagine Han Solo would be compared to the older cynical version we saw in the original Star Wars movie. I expect him to be cynical from the start.
Other than Solo and Beckett, this movie lacks interesting characters. Voss is somewhat intriguing, but his screen time is short and he seems like a stereotypical gangster. Kira is a generic girlfriend character until a plot twist at the end.
Much has been written about Donald Glover's portrayal of Lando Calrissian. He does a good job, but the character isn't particularly likeable, and it is hard to see why Solo develops a friendship with him.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is often exciting, starts out fun, but doesn't really finish that way. This is a decent movie that could and should have been better given the $260 million dollars they spent on it. There were production problems, the original two directors were fired, and most of the movie had to be reshot. The movie doesn't always seem logical, nor is it always consistent with the Star Wars universe that we already know. One scene bothered me when Solo walks up to a bar and orders a "brandy." It blows my mind that an earthly drink would exist a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
I am changing my rating from from three stars to three and a quarter stars. Instead of giving it a "B-" I am giving it a "B+." Solo could have been better, but it is okay.