1. It's not bad. Hardly an enthusiastic endorsement, we know.
2. Probably helped that we went into the theater with pretty low expectations, what with all of the ongoing stories of production problems: fired directors, reshoots, acting lessons for the star. What a mess. All of that bad publicity can make it hard to evaluate the movie on its own terms. Is it really good? Or do we think it's good mostly because we know it could have (should have?) been much terrible?
3. Donald Glover shines as a younger Lando Calrissian, surprising absolutely no one.
4. We think the problem may be that the filmmakers are telling a story demanded mostly by the needs of Disney's ledger sheet. No one's particularly eager to see exactly how Han Solo met Chewbacca or made the Kessel Run or won the Millennium Falcon from Lando. Are they? Do we need to see every throwaway line from the original trilogy dramatized and adapted into a $200 million feature film of its own? (A similar problem faced 2016's Rogue One, but that movie at least delivered a story with new faces and a killer hook: just how did the Rebel spies steal the plans to the original Death Star?) Better perhaps instead to just tell some random Han Solo smuggling adventure rather than exploring his entire origin story as if he were a Marvel superhero.
5. Lando's maybe-more-than-friends relationship with his droid L3-37 is pretty unexpected, if strange.
6. Some say a good movie needs only deliver two or three memorable moments and a strong ending. By that yardstick, Solo more or less fits the bill. There's a great ice train hijacking sequence in the middle, some fun double-crosses at the end, and also the satisfying moment when Han outplays Lando at sabacc (which seems to be a real game with rules and everything).
7. To us, Woody Harrelson can do no wrong. He's just always great.
8. Some Star Wars fans had a problem with the casting of Alden Ehrenreich, whose previous big credit was a somewhat funny bit in the Coen Brothers' otherwise unfunny "comedy" Hail Ceasar. This argument never made sense to us; actors have long reinterpreted characters and roles. There's been two Dumbledores, five and counting James Bonds. Even so... While Ehrenreich does an pretty good job capturing that Solo swagger and crooked-smile charm, his whiny voice is markedly different from Harrison Ford's surly growl. Turns out to be a bigger distraction than you might imagine. In other words, we think the producers could have done better.
9. These Star Wars Story stand-alone sequels - as opposed to the numbered "official" saga movies - were originally envisioned by Lucasfilm to be a sort of sandbox series to allow up-and-coming filmmakers to create Star Wars stories with different looks and sensibilities. Which is why Phil Lord and Chris Miller (who directed the hilarious The Lego Movie) were hired to do Solo. The idea seemed to be to give the movie a completely different, quirky vibe. But along the way, Star Wars executive changed their mind presumably when they realized that Lord and Miller were making a movie along the same line as The Lego Movie. Shocking, right? Why hire a blacksmith unless you want him to make you a horseshoe. And so, the producers stepped in and asserted creative control (just as they had for Rogue One) by firing the directors and hiring Ron Howard(!). You can sort of see the Lord and Miller screwball tone bubbling underneath Solo. Howard may be an A-list director, but he's all competent polish and little genuine creativity and art (see also: The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams). While we understand the worry about letting Solo get too oddball... the easy answer would seem to be to cut the budget. That is, make those stand-alones cheaper and leaner movies that don't need to gross $700 million worldwide to earn back their budgets. But Hollywood never asked us.
10. What all of this means is that while Solo has to date grossed over $200 million in the U.S., it's been deemed a failure and has reportedly led Lucasfilm to reconsider future stand-alone movies.
11. We can't take credit for this observation, but we completely agree: the appeal of Han Solo in the original 1977 Star Wars was that he's a selfish opportunist who ultimately decides to join the rebellion. But here in Solo, he's already got a selfless heart of gold, his decisions driven by his determination to get back to his old girlfriend. It just feels... off somehow. At the very least, Solo should show how a idealistic rookie criminal gets burned so many times he becomes the cold-blooded smuggler we later meet in that Mos Eisley cantina. But Hollywood never asked us.
12. Fun, but perhaps too forgettable.