Title: Solo: A Star Wars Story
Release Date: May 25th, 2018
Director: Ron Howard
Release Format: Theatrical
Running Time: 135 minutes
To many people, Star Wars exemplifies the concept of great and epic science fiction. Under new management in recent years, Lucasfilm has been the target of criticism that they have become ok with sacrificing some of that reputation, in the pursuit of the almighty dollar. Is Solo: A Star Wars Story just a Disney cash in, or does it follow in the footsteps of the classics, as an epic tale that just had to be told?
Han Solo is the main character in this origin movie, but he does the least amount of character development. Alden Ehrenreich does his best young Harrison Ford impression in the film, he’s the charming rogue that Star Wars fans have grown to love, but he’s too much the heroic Han Solo from Episode 7 and not so much the selfish disbeliever from Episode 4. He is bright eyed and hopeful at the beginning, all the way to the very end- despite betrayals and setbacks. Nothing can get him down, and he always seems to have tunnel vision on his objectives. Only towards the end of the film does Han seem to learn anything, but then he’s right back to upbeat and positive.
It’s not to say that Han doesn’t get to impress. He gets to show off his craftiness and ability to think on his feet in many great scenes. He says whatever is on his mind, and that leads to some of the few funny moments the movie has to offer. The movie wastes no time in showing Han surviving some very precarious situations, they keep coming up and he keeps knocking them down as a great action hero should.
Solo: A Star Wars Story has a great supporting cast that includes Woody Harrelson as Hans’ mentor, Beckett and Emilia Clarke as Hans’ love interest/childhood friend, Qi’ra (pronounced Kira, spelled in outlandish sci-fy fashion). Chewbacca is here too, of course, and the bromance between Han and Chewie is subtle but believable. Han meets Beckett and Beckett’s crew of rogues early on in the film, and joins them for the stereotypical “last heist” that will free Beckett and his wife Val from any further obligations. As these things go, this one doesn’t very well- Beckett and Han are forced to make a new deal to avoid the wrath of the films’ (weak)villain: Dryden Vos, played by Paul Bettany.
This is a heist movie through and through. Han has to build his crew to get the big payoff, and that leads to the much-anticipated portrayal of Lando Calrissian by Donald Glover. Glover is beyond smooth, almost better at the character than the original actor, Billy Dee Williams.
They need a ship, and of course, Lando has the best one in the galaxy- the famous Millenium Falcon. Han elects to try to win it from Lando, and two characters who see an equal in each other- clash. Lando, his ship, and his co-pilot droid L3, are all drafted into the plan without much issue.
The storytelling here is great, for the most part. I understand the characters motivations, and although the ending is a little too obvious it’s well done. It’s a couple of the smaller plot points that kind of bog things down and doesn’t work very well for me. Han claims to be an amazing pilot, but besides the climactic Kessel run, we really don’t get to see much of that. Han tells Beckett in passing that he was kicked out of the flight academy, it would have been nice to actually see this happen, to see Han be such a risk taker in the cockpit that he’s banned from flying; that would have meshed well with the actions he takes during the Kessel run.
Another part of the plot that falls short involves Lando’s droid, L3. In typical Star Wars fashion, this droid is full of sass and character. In NOT so typical Star Wars fashion, this droid is a freedom fighter. Every time L3 meets another droid, she tries to talk it out of servitude, and even leads a small rebellion at one point. It seems out of place, and almost comical. What could be a commentary on slavery, turns too slapsticky to be taken seriously- especially when juxtaposed in the movie to Chewbacca faced with his entire homeworld being taken as slaves by the Empire.
Solo: A Star Wars Story overall does its job well. Han gets to be the hero, and despite betrayals and double-crosses, he never loses that heroic spirit. This movie is a great, albeit flawed, addition to the Star Wars universe. The ending has a surprise that many won’t see coming, it may be there to set up future spin-offs, or even a Solo sequel. Whatever the case may be, the Star Wars legacy has another notch on its belt to prove why it’s a fan favorite.
Verdict: Solo: A Star Wars Story is a fun and entertaining adventure. Its story isn’t the strongest in the series, as it suffers from some bogging down of the plot, but it’s a fun addition to the Star Wars mythos.
- Alden Ehrenreich's great portrayal of a young Han Solo
- The Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs
- Donald Glover smoothly becomes Lando Calrissian
- Surprise Cameo
- L3 in general
- Not enough of Han the pilot
- Weak antagonist
- Too obvious of an ending
Decades of video games and comic books have molded me into the nerd with a heart of gold that I am today. I can go full fanboy one second, and then gleefully play devil’s advocate the next- life is just more fun that way.