Look, my expectations were low. Really low. I just didn't get why we needed to see anything of Solo before he arrives, perfectly and amazingly formed in Tatooine, blowing away bounty hunters before they get the chance to......you know.
But to be fair, and especially given the very public production issues, this was an enjoyable blast of retro Star Wars fun. There were some solid set pieces (the recruitment of Solo and his Imperial journey followed by the train heist were both really excellent and the Kessel Run, while not being what I wanted it to be had some cracking shots), some decent surprises (the Lovecraftian surprise near the Maw...….) and for the most part, it had the tone and feel of the Original Trilogy - a gritty, grimy texture to it, with most aliens being physical and more human (and therefore more tangible) rather than childish space beasties. And Lando. Sweet, sweet Lando. Where does he get his wonderful capes?
However, the film really ebbed and flowed, with every peak having an equal or greater trough - most of which were based around two key problems for the film: the first being several of the new characters - some just didn't work. At all. The new droid, L3, just baffled me - the humour, her ridiculous relationship with Lando, she was the anti-K-2SO. Lady Proxima was about as threatening as the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland. And Emilia Clarke is just horrible - I can't warm to her in anything and she brought her Sarah Connor back in full effect. Finally, the less said about a very surprise cameo the better - .
The other was Solo himself. In Star Wars, he was the perfect scoundrel, a rogue, with the humour coming from a mixture of misplaced bravado and his own nature. Trying to tell us how this type of character developed (which is what the film was going for - he ain't fully formed and this is a rollocking adventure of a young Ford) is incredibly difficult and ultimately why this film should never have existed. And while Ehrenreich does an admirable job, the character just doesn't work, it doesn't reconcile to or lead us to think of that original characterisation - he veers too much between broad as hell sob story of a difficult childhood, to chancer, to heartbroken good guy......none of which convinced me at all that that they were part of what made Ford's Solo.
I thought it looked very nice (I liked the dark and murky look, all adding to that grungy, physical texture, with some cool OT designs and revisits), I thought it sounded dull (that score was completely anonymous apart from when the odd burst of OT anthem came through), most of the fan service was nicely played and while diverting as a space adventure with some interesting set pieces, it just completely didn't land the character of Solo.
Better than it should have been, but it still left me with the feeling of just 'why bother....?'