Solo: A Star Wars Story (Movie Review)
Solo: A Star Wars Story is the story of a young Han Solo and how the charming outlaw came to be. Solo stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Paul Bettany, and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca. The reception from fans of the Star Wars property were not happy to hear that Disney & Lucasfilm were conceptualizing a prequel story to one of the most beloved and quotable characters in all the Star Wars universe. Much controversy has plagued the film from the firing of original directors Lord & Miller (The Lego Movie), to reports of the films 80% of reshoots. Fans biggest uproar came at the leads expense when Alden Ehrenreich was cast as Han Solo. The box-office for the film was not terrible but nowhere near the money the studio hoped to make for the second franchise film out of the Skywalker Saga films. Below we have our review of the film so be warned, there will be a few spoilers from the film mentioned below.
Warning Spoilers ahead
Solo: A Star Wars Story is one of the most anticipated films for Star Wars fans for a few reasons, one of them being how Lucasfilm plan to tell a prequel/origin story for the character of Han Solo. The plot is simple, I think. A young Han grows up poor and enslaved and escapes but leaves behind someone he cares about. His plan is to work his way up by any means in life to buy a ship and rescue said person, thus the story takes off from there. For the most part the film is a fun action adventure with great performances but a few key plot points in the film hurt the storytelling. First off, the whole reason for Han being in such precarious situations is quickly resolved in the middle of the film and then we move into a whole new movie entirely. This isn't a big deal because for the most part both parts of this film are told really well. The only character that suffers from this decision is Han as his whole reason for being there is sort of resolved and the story decides to focus on another aspect of the character that wasn't really well established in the first half which is his heroism. Other than a few lines here and there from Emilia Clarke's character Qi'ra we the audience aren't supposed to think of Han as a hero at least not until the later films when he shows up with Luke and Leia. Other than that one key story element the film does an exceptional job delivering a Star Wars film that isn't too much like the others although it does borrow the heist element from Rogue One.
Now lets talk about characters, beginning with the most important one, Han Solo. As I stated above, Han Solo is a very tricky character to write for as you have many sides to him you can dig into. The film started him out as a survive at any cost kinda guy to a hero by the end. That is fine but then his decision at the very end of the film to not join the rebellion makes no sense after the film completes his entire arc as hero. That choice was very lazy writing by the writers to just have him say no to the offer just because. As far as Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, we give him the stamp of approval. Yes, he doesn't look like Harrison Ford but he definitely reminds us of what a young Han Solo should be, cocky, arrogant, and selfish. People looking to hate his performance will only be doing so because he is not Ford and not because of what elements of Solo he brings to his take on the character. Woody Harrelson as Beckett was fun and a true Woody Harrelson character we see the actor play very often. His arc is also completed by the end of the film with Han sort of replacing him/taking over his role as a "scoundrel". A lot of his emotional arc is all over the place or quickly brushed aside but he also has a lot of parting words that stick with Han and mold him into the Solo we know. Chewbacca as a character is tricky, you can completely sideline him like they did in Las Jedi, use him for comedic timing in The Force Awakens, or you can actually give him a personality and motives which is what the film did. Chewie has one of the easiest but well told stories in the film, he is a prisoner of war and helps Han escape. They use each other to get what they want but throughout that time they grow closer and closer as friends and it was fun watching that friendship become what we know from the original trilogy. From the very first time they meet, to when they both fly the Millennium Falcon it really is an origin story of the both of them. Chewbacca has motives for helping out Han which is explored in the film a few times. This is where things get bad, Donald Glover as a young Lando Calrissian is not good. Although many fans were excited for Glover to take on the role it just wasn't a good fit. His character felt out of place, and although I know his character was trying to be a dashing smuggler who belonged in a higher class in the galaxy he wasn't all that interesting. He had flashes of what Lando would become but one scene in particular in the film I couldn't tell if I should take it serious or as a very bad joke. This will carry mixed reactions from a lot of people but I don't blame Glover at all, after all this film is the result of many reshoots, and probably poor to minimum editing choices. Donald Glover embodied the role physically but it was just missing something extra for me to say "this guy stands out". Paul Bettany as the villain was nice, his role was very minimal and he never felt like the big bad. Bettany as Drydon Vos was more of a henchman to someone else but that reveal was greater than Bettany's time on screen. I think his performance out of everyone else suffered most of all because the stakes of his threat felt meaningless when we know that our core originals survive and make out of this situation from him and his boss.
Overall, the film was fun and told a good story that anyone can follow. The film had tons against it going in but they manage to pull it off with only a few minor storytelling setbacks. Anything in this film that wasn't good probably has a reason for it as the film fell victim to many changes behind the scenes. CG was great and the acting was good for the most part. Woukd I recommend this film to a friend or stranger? Yes.
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