The movie did not open well, apparently.
Solo reminded me of Vera Cruz — Robert Aldrich's comically cynical western from 1954 — with elements of the Hope/Crosby Road movies and (naturally) Casablanca. It is absolutely larded with the sorts of details that continuity freaks slaver over, but rolls from scene to scene so briskly that when it was over and we were in the parking lot I was surprised to discover the film was 30 minutes longer than I thought. I'm with Kate Taylor: Solo is the simplest and most satisfying Disney Star Wars yet.
So why was I in no hurry to see it?
It's a strange thing — Disney is producing franchise content with, I would argue, commendable panache. The roster now includes four movies with sturdier stories and more compelling characters than the Majordomo managed in his last four SW movies. Yet the Mouse's marketing department struggles to make the pitch.
The one Solo trailer I saw elicited a universal “meh” from my family. It wasn't until someone replaced the orchestral score with the Beastie Boys' “Sabotage” that my feelings toward the material's potential changed. The running joke was “'Sabotage' improves everything,” but it was indeed an indication of just how lost Disney's promo people seem to be when it comes to presenting this property.
Until I was actually sitting in the theatre chair, this movie did not feel like essential viewing. Unless “Star Wars” is at the beginning of the title, the rest is peripheral — an unintentional side effect from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Solo (I'm hoping still) has potential to launch a series, but the fact that Rogue One was an unambiguous one-off does not improve the odds.
Now consider the stills. If you enter “Solo” into Google Images, you'll get plenty of shots that look like this:
garish red palette. Solo has at least one set-piece that was visually surprising, along with plenty of sequences with kinetic oomph, but you wouldn't know it from what we see online and elsewhere.
And finally I think the franchise is desperately missing Ralph McQuarrie's unscalable vision. I can't imagine McQuarrie ever giving the go-ahead to perching a lead character on top of a thumb-drive, or inside a peeled-back sardine-tin. And that's just vehicle design.
It's a shame — aside from the occasional ho-hum visual, Solo joins a growing list of deeply satisfying Star Wars narratives.