SOLO: A Star Wars Story – Review


When it comes to the Star Wars we are now beginning to see much more of an expanded Universe emerging with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but there are two things I want to say about that. The first thing is, it seems rather unwarranted and the second is that it seems unnecessary. It’s unnecessary because, well Disney didn’t have to take the action they did. This set of announced movies is mainly in line with the fact that Disney decided to erase virtually all the expanded story lines that had been written over the years, with virtually none of them in continuity, so they could start from scratch. Disney were right because in one sense there was an expanded Universe storyline taking place after Return of the Jedi and it would have made the planned sequel trilogy impossible. However, a lot of really good expanded Universe storylines have been erased. It’s also unwarranted because many of these storylines are stuff that, well I wouldn’t mind a comic or a book about, but I’m not sure I want a full movie, I don’t need to know everything. It certainly isn’t going away any time soon since the weekend of this film’s release, it was announced that there will be a film set around bounty hunter Boba Fett, which seems a completely idiotic idea in my opinion, because most of what made him so interesting is the fact that we didn’t know that much about him.

Now, that’s not to say that I am thinking the new expanded storylines are bad, far from it, some of them have been excellent. Star Wars Rebels, the animated series that Disney XD was running came to its conclusion with its four season run and was actually pretty good, despite the fact that it had made a few hiccups along the way and I wasn’t entirely a fan of the ending of the series. I already reviewed Rogue One, which I said I thought was a pretty good film, but I always said from the start I was never quite sure that I wanted to see a Star Wars film about Han Solo’s younger days, but yet, here we are.

The film has been mired in production troubles, with directors walking off the film in the middle of production and Ron Howard has stepped in to take over the job, which meant the film required several re-shoots. The thing is though, has Ron Howard really made the thing work?

Much like Rogue One, Solo is basically based on one line of dialogue from A New Hope. It’s the story of a young Hans Solo, played by Alden Ehrenreich and his rise to prominence as a top smuggler. He’s brought onto a job by his boss Beckett, played by Woody Harrelson in the hopes that he can earn a quick buck to go back to his home world to rescue his girlfriend Qi’ra played by Emilia Clarke and recruits a team, including the Wooky Chewbacca (yes, the film goes into the origins of how the two first met), played by Joonas Suotamo and a young Lando Calrissian, played by Donald Glover.

The film is essentially the story of Han Solo’s line, that the Millenium Falcon had outrun the Kessel in twelve parsecks. Yep, we actually get the story behind that! This film is a bit weird. That’s not to say it’s bad, far from it, Solo is actually a pretty decent film, all things considered. It has a decent flowing three act structure, the characters are pretty good and for the most part in tuned with the versions of themselves from the original trilogy. We see a lot more into the nature of Harman Lando, we see origins of the Millenium Falcon and if there is one thing they do get right, it’s the relationship between Han and Chewy, which is done expertly well in this film. The thing is though, Solo is a painfully average film. Solo is such a side story that I am amazed it got turned into a film, let alone one that is over two hours long! This film is more something I would expect from a comic or an expanded Universe novel than I would an actual film. Rogue One had a similar issue, but it at least managed to feel a lot more like an epic and a big part of the Star Wars story, in fact, you could even watch it in a marathon between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Solo doesn’t feel like it has any place in a marathon, it’s just kind of there. It’s not really doing anything wrong per say, but it’s not offering much to get over excited about. It’s also painfully obvious to anyone who has any vague history of Star Wars how it’s going to turn out. We know certain characters don’t appear in the trilogy and we know certain characters are going to be in the trilogy, so as a result, there just aren’t as many stakes. With Rogue One, we didn’t know the fates of the rebels that got the Death Star plans, so anything could happen to them, but Solo doesn’t quite work, at least in that regard it doesn’t quite work. It does paint somewhat of a picture of how Han got to where he is today and how it affected his character, especially considering the character is now beginning to come full circle. The thing is though that Solo’s biggest issue is the fact that it has tons of nods and winks to the audience, which is the worst part of any prequel story. This is something that was particularly an issue in the Hobbit trilogy, where they wanted to remind you constantly that it was a prequel to the Lord of the Rings. This one has the same issue, that it is constantly reminding you that it’s a prequel to A New Hope and it throws in tons of references and little nods to the audience, and its actually kind of distracting. It’s a case of “yes, I am a Star Wars fan, I know what this means, I know what is going to happen, please get on with this story”!!

The new characters themselves are actually not too bad. Qi’ra is a bit bland, but she is a cool character overall, the film hints at her having a dark side, but the film never really goes all out with it, which leaves the thing feeling rather weak. It almost wouldn’t have made as much as a difference if they just played her as a straight good guy, though, Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, at least puts her all into this performance. This also goes to Becket, who is pretty typical of Woody Harrelson’s roles, considering he did remind me a bit of his character in War for the Planet of the Apes. The other characters to really talk about is one of the film’s main villains, Dryden Vos, played by Paul Bettany. Now Paul Bettany is one of the best parts of this film, he is absolutely loving every part of his role. He gives an excellent performance and really just enjoys playing this character. His role has apparently been expanded, no doubt due to Ron Howard’s influence on the film and honestly, it was a pretty good job because if he had been in this film any less, it would have been to the film’s detriment. The big thing to talk about though is Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo. Now I wasn’t that aware of this actor prior to seeing him in the Cohen Brothers film, Hail Caeser, which I reviewed all the way back in 2016 and I haven’t seen him any film since that movie, but man is he good in this role. While he is not constantly doing a Harrison Ford impression, he does get down a lot of the speech patterns and particularly the mannerisms and the fighting style of Han Solo. Just little subtle touches really make you feel that he is a younger version of this character and he has definitely pulled off what Ewan McGregor managed to achieve when playing Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The film aesthetically is very similar to The Force Awakens and Last Jedi, in which is seems to be more similar to the original trilogy, with a slight visual update. It actually works for the most part, many of the areas that say, Lando Calrissian and Han Solo hang out are very similar to the Cantina from A New Hope as well as several other tiny touches. The Millenium Falcon, for example, goes through a bit of a transformation and sever of the scenes are done brilliantly to reflect A New Hope. One of two particular ones for example, feel like they were deleted scenes from those movies.

Now, to give a minor spoiler, which I won’t go into too much detail about, there is a cameo in this film by a famous Star Wars character towards the end of the film. Now, despite the fact that is probably the most awesome moment in the entire film when you first see it, when you really stop and think about it, it doesn’t really do much. At this stage we have no idea what the whole situation means, it doesn’t tie into any of the other films per say and we don’t know where it’s going to lead. Is this going to be a new movie, is it a comic?? Now while the mystery on the other hand does have the ability, there are only so many ways it can be paid off and I am not sure all of them work, so I am very keen to see where it is going, but I am also not holding my breath.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is alright. It’s perfectly passable and Star Wars fans will get some kick out of it. I do appreciate the fact that, like Rogue One, this is a film with no Jedi in it, which I appreciate, considering that I think Star Wars has become too defined by the Jedi, which was especially an issue during the prequel films. If you are a fan of the classic trilogy, there is probably something in it for you, though the nods and winks to the audience feel a bit too forced and the film doesn’t have the epic nature that a Star Wars film should have, which is mainly down to the fact that the film’s plot is a lot more linear than many of the previous films.
If this is a sign of things to come, I think we might get Star Wars fatigue, similar to how the Superhero films have led to Superhero fatigue. Let’s hope that future films will really nail it.

Well, that’s it for this week and since I have done a few films over the last few weeks that are very action heavy, so next week I’m going to do a review of a Fan film review for the first time ever with Voldemort: Origin of the Heir, yes I do know Dom reviewed it already but I want to throw my opinion in there as well

Thanks a lot for reading my review. I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it and they couldn’t release this film on May The 4th, what a rip-off.

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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