WARNING: Minor spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story ahead.
The Star Wars release formula is clear now, and we’ve finally adjusted to it. With the new “sequel” trilogy hitting the big screen recently, Disney has given us a shorter wait with prequels to strengthen the Star Wars film lore. The first was Rogue One, which depicted the stealing of the Death Star plans by a rogue Rebel group. Now, we have the origins of one of the O.G. Star Wars characters…Han Solo. Nobody asked for this film. And with that in mind, it doesn’t push boundaries. This is a run-of-the-mill, average flick. However, maybe that’s what makes it an enjoyable time at the movies. It’s a great romp through Star Wars history, and while it doesn’t bring much to the table that we didn’t already know, that doesn’t stop it from being a thoroughly fun movie.
This film is less about Han Solo himself than it is about the event that precipitated his appearance in the original film. The movie chooses to focus a lot on Han’s relationships with others, which enables you to understand him more than you could in prior installments. That being said, it would’ve been nice to see more of Solo off on his own, especially considering the quality of the side characters. Han himself is good. Alden Ehrenreich was a great addition to the universe and played the character well. I didn’t go in expecting him to be amazing, because he’s basically playing a young Harrison Ford. In the end, he got the job done and was entertaining.
His allies, on the other hand, are lacking in many aspects. Lando (Donald Glover) is decent. It probably helps that the character wasn’t given that much time to be fleshed out in the original films, giving this rendition more room to shine. But he really isn’t in this film that much, either. Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) is just okay. There’s a stiffness to her character, which means we never get to feel any attachment or emotion towards her like we do with Han, Lando, or Chewie. Beckett (Woody Harrelson), Han Solo’s mentor, works good on paper, but the cookie-cutter elements of his character don’t transfer well to screen. The scene-stealer of this movie, though, is Lando’s companion droid, L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). Not only does she single-handedly instigate a hilarious droid uprising on Kessel, but her bond with Lando is clearly developed.
Despite the glaring character flaws, the visuals in this movie are outstanding. While I don’t appreciate the muddy color added to many of the shots, most of the set-pieces and environments are fantastic. There were some aspects where everything seemed a bit too shaky for my liking (come on, people, this isn’t The Hunger Games) but the majority of the sequences were neatly polished. It was genuinely nice to see certain aspects of the franchise be re-introduced and shown in their prime, especially the Millennium Falcon. We’ve only known Han’s Falcon, and seeing Lando’s was certainly a nice touch.
I won’t go too far into detail about Solo‘s villain, Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). That being said, he’s easily one of the most lackluster additions to the franchise we’ve seen. Bettany seems to be having fun with the role, but this film doesn’t operate under the fact that he’s the villain. Han and the crew are simply doing a job for him. He’s simply a gangster. No motives, no emotions, nothing. Just a shell of a possibly great antagonist. In addition to Bettany, Thandie Newton is also squandered greatly. Newton has proven how phenomenal of an actress she is on HBO’s Westworld. However, she’s barely given anything to work with here, which is a great disappointment.
The action sequences in this film are far and few between, but the ones we get are stellar. Most cater to the fans, such as the compelling Kessel Run sequence, and the meeting of Han and Chewie. With that in mind, there are plenty of new, unique additions as well. The train heist sequence, which appears relatively early on, is awesome and one of the best parts of the movie. There’s also a very, very surprising cameo (which I will not spoil). It was a personal dream come true, considering I grew up when the prequels were being released.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is a great addition to the Star Wars universe. It doesn’t serve much purpose other than to flesh out the character of Han Solo, but that’s perfectly fine in this instance. This isn’t a major installment in the franchise. It’s a casual summer flick. The writing is decent, and the side characters are definitely lacking in focus and development. That being said, it’s highly entertaining, gifting us with plenty of action, humor, and fan service. If you’re looking for a good ol’ time at the movies, go see Solo. It’s fast-paced and truly enjoyable.
Solo: A Star Wars Story stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau. Directed by Ron Howard.