Solo: A Star Wars Story focuses on the lovable rogue and his hairy side-kick in their first adventure as partners. And whilst it spends a little too much time setting up references to people, locations, villains and iconic moments from the original Star Wars trilogy – the film is definitely a fun ride. It’s worth noting that the film being successful is itself a triumph after the trouble behind-the-scenes, as the original directors (Phil Lord and Chris Miller) were fired mid-way through filming, with Ron Howard taking over the reins.
And whilst some were worried about Alden Ehrenreich taking over the iconic role from Harrison Ford, he does a spectacular job. He doesn’t attempt a Harrison Ford impression, nor does he give us a drastically different vision of the character. Ehrenreich’s performance as Han Solo is charismatically cheeky that balances well with the dynamic he has with his equally iconic partner, Chewbacca – played here by Joonas Suotamo. Ehrenreich also has some genuine chemistry with his childhood love interest, Qi’Ra, played by the wonderful Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), who isn’t simply defined by her relationships, but has her own agenda. However, their scenes are stolen by Donald Glover A.K.A. Childish Gambino as Lando Calrissian. The writer/singer/director/jack-of-all-trades brings a surprising amount of levity to the role through his relationship with L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), but also brings the suave elegance that Billy Dee Williams also had as Lando during The Empire Strikes Back. Unfortunately, Woody Harrelson gives us a near uninterested performance as the leader of the group, and disappointingly falls rather flat compared to the rest of the cast. Paul Bettany also gives us a half-hearted attempt at a charismatic villain, but doesn’t quite manage to stick the landing.
Whilst the majority of the cast are great, the substance of the film doesn’t reach to much. It doesn’t have the heart or courage of the original trilogy, and nor does it explore new characters in depth as well as The Force Awakens. Solo does have several action set pieces that are entertaining enough to satisfy most audiences, but they don’t boast anything particularly mind-blowing. The beginning of the film felt very much in tune with Rogue One, gritty and dirty as Han experiences the Imperial war machine first hand. But from then on, the grim reality of what life is like on the worlds they visit is overlooked by quippy one liners and the fast paced nature of the plot. And although the action sequences (aside from the scene on top of the train featured in the trailers) aren’t exactly stand-out, the film does have a few surprises up its sleeve. There is definitely a surprising moment that fans of the franchise won’t see coming, but for the sake of spoilers – we’ll avoid that.
But Solo: A Star Wars Story is also a visual treat. Ron Howard and cinematographer Bradford Young have crafted a feast for the eyes. Whether it’s the grimy, dungeon-like underbelly of Han’s homeworld Corellia or the snowy mountain planet of Vandor. So even if the story might not be an award-winning odyssey, it’s at least a fascinating watch. This is a Han Solo origin story rather than just a tale in the wider Star Wars Universe, and whilst some fans will be happy with that – it ruins the mystique around the lovable rogue from the original trilogy. It spends valuable screen time answering questions and setting up key parts of his character that simply weren’t needed. And although it’s a satisfying adventure, it doesn’t feel like as special to the Star Wars Universe as The Force Awakens, or even Rogue One. But, it is an enjoyable film, if a little forgettable in places.
What did you think of Solo: A Star Wars Story? Let us know on Twitter @HeroesDirect!
Whilst it might not be a necessary addition to the Star Wars Universe, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a fun ride.