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Movie Review: 'Solo: A Star Wars Story'

First of all, it seems weird that people are worried that Solo: A Star Wars Story brought in only $103 million in its first four days of release -- $103 million is a lot of money!

“Ah, but Fletcher,” you say, “it’s not Star Wars money.” And that’s true. It’s not.

And I don’t have the answer for why it didn’t earn Star Wars money, but it is apparent that this is the first Star Wars installment that simply isn’t necessary for us to understand the Star Wars universe. I could easily see people saying, “I just saw Avengers, we just had another Star Wars movie a few months ago, I need a break, I can skip this one.”

And frankly, they’d be right. This is one of the more unnecessary movies I can remember seeing. We know Han Solo’s story. He’s not a mystery. We don’t need to fill in every little crevice of backstory with details about how he got to be the galaxy’s greatest anti-hero or how he got the name “Han Solo.” I was fine just accepting that that was his name.

Still, it’s kind of fun. Essentially what we have is a space western, complete with gun-twirling. The first two-thirds are mostly lasers and explosions, which is only a little bit tedious, and the last third takes some really interesting turns, even if I didn’t completely love where it ends up.

Alden Ehrenreich thankfully doesn’t try to do a Harrison Ford impression -- although he also doesn’t get anywhere near Ford’s stratospheric charisma -- while Donald Glover does charm everyone off the screen as the interstellar gambler and smuggler Lando Calrissian. For the most part, we get to see everyone get into and out of trouble a few times, and they’re all clearly enjoying themselves as they do it.

And maybe that’s good enough. Maybe it’s fine to have what’s basically a disposable installment of Star Wars. Maybe our problem isn’t that Solo is underperforming, maybe our problem is that we expect every Star Wars movie to be capital-I Important, when really it’s OK if we’re just out to have a good time.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.