Solo: A Star Wars StoryI saw Solo: A Star Wars Story this past weekend, and I must admit to being impressed. I should also point out I was—in no way—sure that was going to be the case going in. Truthfully, it has to get pretty bad for me to consider anything associated with Star Wars to be a complete failure. (I’m looking at you crappy prequels!) That being said, this film had such a troubled path to the big screen that it was truly anyone’s guess.

Directors leaving (or being fired from) projects isn’t anything new in Hollywood. Then again, it isn’t every day you hear things like the director brought in to replace them re-shooting 70% of the movie. That happened here, and it wasn’t the only troublesome news during production. Couple that with the fact that the franchise is only now seeming to eek past several months of fans being polarized by the last film, and there was cause for trepidation.

Thankfully, at least as far as I’m concerned, most worries were for naught

Solo: A Star Wars Story might not have been perfect, but it was a rip-roaring good time. The cast was phenomenal. The story was engaging and suspenseful. The film was visually very pleasing from a cinematography and effects standpoint. And, perhaps most importantly, it truly FELT like a Star Wars film, while simultaneously expanding the franchise universe. It also included a lot of fanservice moments as a hat tip to longtime Star Wars fans, much to my delight. It was funny, suspenseful, and action-packed. Honestly, I really enjoyed it.

And, before you’re tempted to write off my assessment as that of a fanboy, Harrison Ford agrees with me. The boots of Han Solo are admittedly big ones for anyone to try to fill, and there was a lot of worry Alden Ehrenreich wasn’t going to be up to the task. Reducing all that to a word, however, leaves me saying only this: hogwash. I honestly thought he did a great job. He was really engaging, and made it his own. Truthfully, I thought the entire cast shined.

I still have great worries over whether or not the movie will be a success. If it’s not, however, it won’t be because of a lack of quality. There’s been a lot of bad press surrounding Solo: A Star Wars Story. That’s bad, considering we unfortunately live in a world where people form opinions about things before even experiencing them. My advice is to actually go out and experience Solo: A Star Wars Story for yourself. Put aside preconceived nonsense, and I have a hard time believing any Star Wars fan wouldn’t enjoy this one.

It gets a bit spoilery from this point on, so continue reading at your own risk

Still with me? OK. If that’s the case, I’m going to assume you’re OK hearing some details about the ending of Solo: A Star Wars Story. I guess you can consider this your final warning, before I start talking about…

The Reemergence of Darth Maul. Or, technically, I suppose it’s just Maul now, since by this point he’s no longer an apprentice to the Sith. Some of you are (undoubtedly) thinking this is a serious “Jump the Shark” moment. That’s completely understandable, considering the last time we saw him in the Star Wars universe he was plummeting into an abyss after having been sliced neatly in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi during the climax of The Phantom Menace. I assure you, however, him being alive is perfectly in line with canon.

In fact, his survival and eventual rise into the criminal underworld of the Star Wars galaxy was portrayed in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars cartoon series. I’m not going to go into a huge amount of detail here. Frankly, there are better places for you to read about that whole storyline. Suffice it to say, however, it’s not at all strange for him to be alive and well with a mostly mechanical lower half at the time during which Solo: A Star Wars Story takes place.

In fact, using him to both set up a possible sequel as well as tie this film into the larger universe of the series was a great move, in my opinion. If you need a ruthless villain, it’s hard to go wrong tapping a character who was sadly underutilized previously. I have absolutely no problems with it. In fact, I’m pretty excited about it.

Is Solo: A Star Wars Story a balm for the beleaguered fandom?

So what did you think of Solo: A Star Wars Story? I almost hesitate to ask, considering the fandom can be so polarized at times. Truthfully, though, I consider this film a great addition to the larger mythos. In fact, I’m thinking it should help to satisfy many disillusioned by Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

One big complaint with that film was that it was so different from quintessential Star Wars. While I personally think some of that heartburn was misguided, I can certainly understand where those folks were coming from. I feel like Solo: A Star Wars Story might help salve some of those wounds, though. It gets a lot closer to that feeling of nostalgia people were missing, in my opinion. As always, though, your mileage may vary.

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