The Solo reviews are in. They’re a tad mixed – many seem to think it’s a little too safe – but they’re hardly pans. That seems to bode well, given that “a fun Star Wars movie” is all we’re looking for here.
Some of these reviews do get rather detailed about the first part of the film, but only one really touches on anything I’d consider a real spoiler. Still, consider yourselves warned.
The Atlantic’s Christopher Orr with the nut graph:
Best of all, the movie is different. There’s no Death Star or Starkiller Base, no Imperial vessel or HQ that needs to be infiltrated in order to turn off a shield or tractor beam or interstellar tracker. There’s no mumbo jumbo about the Force, no lightsabers, no First Order, and scarcely a mention of the Empire. This is a movie set in the universe of Star Wars that, for once, doesn’t feel it needs to be a rehash of Star Wars.
Solo is zippy, light summer fun, and yet also offers gritty moments that will stick in your brain long after your popcorn container hits the trash on the way out. It manages to feel both contemporary and classic. It’s rather like an old-school “expanded universe” novel brought to life — a tight little story stuffed with references to other Star Wars media.
Solo takes a solid 30 minutes or so to find its footing, but once it does — right around the time Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian comes into play — this adventure makes the jump to lightspeed and doesn’t slow down.
Though Solo doesn’t break the mold, it’s a consistently entertaining galactic crime caper that benefits in particular from well-constructed action scenes and (as always) top-notch production and costume design.
Our most spoiler-free entries, from Bryan Young:
Since [Lawrence] Kasdan has been the chief architect of Han Solo’s life, he was able to take knowledge of his ending and offer us a beginning that adds dimension and context to every moment we see him in. From A New Hope to The Force Awakens, you will never see Han in the same way again.
…and Making Star Wars’ Jason Ward:
Solo: A Star Wars Story feels like the kind of movie Lucasfilm would have made under George Lucas. Perhaps that is because it was kicked off by George before he sold the 4 billion dollar monkey on his back to Disney. But as a fan of the work Lucas did on The Clone Wars I felt like I was watching something from Lucasfilm in that era of their storytelling but in the best and strongest sense of that vibe. There’s a modern Star Wars feel as well as something uniquely classic Lucasfilm about it.
Defining the “mixed” part of the equation, The New York Times’ A.O. Scott calls it “a curiously low-stakes blockbuster, in effect a filmed Wikipedia page.” (It’s certainly not a Wookieepedia page, because then it would probably be about 5 hours long.) This one also contains the most explicit reference so far to the film’s biggest spoiler, but it did make me giggle a couple times so we’ll call it even.
IndieWire’s Kate Erbland is positive, saying that “even without lightsaber battles or Jedi or anyone aligned with the formal Rebellion, it still captures a humor and pace “Star Wars” audiences expect.” (Spoiler quantity: Medium.)
io9’s Germain Lussier says that Han and Chewie’s friendship “is basically the heart of the movie”.
Variety’s Andrew Barker was mostly positive, but found “the free-spirited story at its center is too often larded down with the weight of the past.”
Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers is chairman of the “too safe” brigade, saying Solo “is more mild than wild, a pleasant way to pass the time instead of a game-changer”.