If you would like to read our earlier review of Solo: A Star Wars Story, click here.
Synopsis: Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in Solo: A Star Wars Story, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes. (Disney)
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, and Emilia Clarke
Writers: Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan
Director: Ron Howard
Rating: PG (Canada)/PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 135mins
So this film has been in theaters for a week now and has not been well received for the most part by audiences. Beit the recent superhero film releases or the turmoil behind the scenes, there are plenty of reasons why this would be the case. Perhaps the biggest reason why would be that this new film, a prequel focusing on a younger Han Solo (Ehrenreich), fails to justify its existence. Being one of the most recognizable characters of the Star Wars universe, this film had to feature a compelling enough story that would subvert our preconceptions about him. We already know the future so the story should make us care about the present. Unfortunately, this did not happen here.
Instead of being a film about Han Solo, as the film’s title suggests, this film saw him as a character in a larger story, for whatever reason, which was slightly disappointing though not surprising. The story squandered a major opportunity early on, choosing to simply brush over him by placing him in a derivative heist film with a few other story threads that never materialize into anything. Knowing what we know about most of the characters, the film doesn’t bother to give them any development here, expecting us to care based on past history. Han wants to be a pilot, he says just as much in the trailers, so saying that he becomes one by the end of the film wouldn’t be much of a spoiler. The film only seemed concerned with getting him from point A to point B without paying too much attention to whatever happened in between.
Han’s journey, if it even is his, won’t change any preconceptions one may have about him as it doesn’t present any new information about him other than an underdeveloped relationship with a woman named Qi’ra (Clarke). His arc as a character wasn’t original by any means and the derivative story made it feel even more contrived than it was. One of the film’s major selling points, other than a young Han Solo, was also a young Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). What was disappointing about this was that despite making quite the impression here, he was rarely on screen. The same could be said for Lando’s droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). The film was obviously setting up for future films but that does not excuse their use here as they were far more interesting than the characters this film chose to focus on.
Being a Star Wars film, it did not lack in spectacle, however, it was generic and felt lifeless like it was simply checking items off a list while characters went through the paces. It wasn’t that it was necessarily bad, it merely lacked any stakes, like the rest of the film, or any emotional impact. The film was still somewhat entertaining at times, however, the majority of the film was brought down by mediocre writing and dialog which occasionally bordered on cheesy. This was also the case with the film’s humor as it seldom worked and mostly felt forced. The film also featured what may be a surprise cameo for some, however, it will be an afterthought after everything that came before it, fan theories aside.
The story may be lacking here, however, the performances were not to blame as they were the best part of the film. A lot has been said about Ehrenreich’s portrayal of Han Solo though this version of the film is perhaps not the best benchmark. He showed potential here, however, he was not given much of a chance to shine here. This may be due to the writing, direction, or possibly Ehrenreich but Han became swept up by what was supposed to be his story. Woody Harrelson was okay as Tobias Beckett, a role that could have been played by anyone else without much of a difference. Clarke was okay as Qi’ra despite not making much of an impression. Glover was best while having plenty of charisma and screen presence in limited screen time as Lando Calrissian.
Overall, this was was a derivative, lifeless, mediocre, but still somewhat entertaining Star Wars film at times with decent performances despite not working at all as a Han Solo story or even a Lando Calrissian one worth caring about. Instead of what it ultimately could have been, this will simply be a forgettable entry that will just be swept under the rug by the time Episode IX is released.