Solo: A Star Wars Story has a few missed opportunities and might not change anyone’s life, but it is an enjoyable film with fun performances.
Director: Ron Howard
Summary: During an adventure into a dark criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.
When Lucasfilm and Disney announced their intentions of making a solo origin movie for Han Solo, fans were a little concerned. This seemed like an obvious choice, and the impression the studio gave was that the anthology films were going to tell new stories within the Star Wars universe to help expand it. A Han Solo origin movie seemed like it would be the opposite of that. Nevertheless the movie came to be, with lots of bumps along the way. Whether or not Solo ended up working in the end was very much in the air because of so many production problems.
The good news is the movie does work, and unlike Justice League where it was painfully obvious which scenes were shot by different directors, Solo very much feels like a singular vision. Alden Ehrenreich had an impossible task to play Han Solo, and while it takes a little while to settle into the change, once it does it’s all smooth sailing from there. Donald Glover steals every scene he’s in as Lando Calrissian and is clearly having so much fun playing the role. His transition is a little easier than Ehrenreich’s. Woody Harrelson is having fun getting to run around as an intergalactic thief, and Paul Bettany is chewing so much scenery as villain Dryden Vos it’s amazing that that there was anything left by the end.
The most polarizing character will likely be Emilia Clarke as Qi’Ra. It’s not that she’s a bad character, but the decisions they make with her are probably going to rub some people the wrong way. It’s not so much a fault on Clarke’s performance but the way that she is written. There are also some serious missed opportunities when it comes to the supporting cast. There is not nearly enough screen time dedicated to Val played by Thandie Newton, Rio played by Jon Favreau, or L3-37 played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. There are also a few deep cuts into Star Wars lore that will leave fans very excited but could leave casual fans very confused.
For a movie that is supposed to be about a lawless man, everything about Solo feels very safe. The movie isn’t looking to change your preconceived notions about the character much at all, and the little bit of world-building it does could have virtually no impact on latter movies unless they decide to explore this time period some more. While Rogue One felt like it took a chance when it decided to kill off its entire main cast, we know certain members of this movie cannot die. There are moments when Han is in peril and the movie seems to slow down because we know he’ll survive. It’s the problem with making prequels, and while Solo does an admirable job of making us forget we know how it ends, the film can’t keep that up the entire time.
Solo: A Star Wars Story feels very much like a production that decided not to take risks when telling the origin of one of the most famous risk-takers in the canon. While the performances are fun and the story is entertaining, at the end of the day it feels very inconsequential to the series overall.
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