Another year, another Star Wars movie. Now that Disney owns pretty much everything, it’s to be expected that they’re going to milk the lucrative SW and Marvel franchise for all its worth. Honestly I haven’t been following much about all the behind-the-scene dramas, apart from the fact that the original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller being fired after several months of production. They still get producing credit but ultimately it’s Ron Howard who gets directing credit as he was brought in for reshoots and finish the movie.
As a casual SW fan, I have enjoyed the newer movies (The Force Awakens, Rogue One and The Last Jedi). So after seeing this one, my favorite is still The Last Jedi, but I really quite enjoyed SOLO. The movie opens with the traditional “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…..” line and we learn that the galaxy is in disarray, ruled by organized crime syndicates competing for the valuable hyperfuel known as Coaxium. On planet Cornellia, Young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) try to escape planet Cornellia for good and we’re treated a pretty thrilling chase scene. Soon we learn how our titular hero gets his name, in a scene that’s treated rather nonchalantly to make any real impact.
The rest of the movie takes place three years later on another planet. Han (sans Qi’ra) encounters a gang of thieves led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrleson) and his cohorts Val (Thandie Newton) and a four-armed alien Rio (Jon Favreau). Soon we learn how Han first meet his hairy BFF Chewbacca. Not quite a meet cute but a hilarious and fun intro to the most famous bromance in the galaxy. I have to say the relationship between Han and Chewy lends to a lot of favorite parts of the movie. There’s such a rush of nostalgia the first time Han and Chewy are on the cockpit together.
Everyone pretty much already loves Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian even from the trailer and he delivers! Glover is an effortlessly charismatic actor, but he also didn’t overshadow Alden and the movie is still about Han’s journey. I do enjoy the banters and rivalry between the two, especially involving their most prized possession the Millennium Falcon. Lando’s droid ‘friend’ L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) is quite the scene stealer. A feminist, sarcastic robot with a mind of her own, she’s definitely light years away from the cute and submissive droids we’ve seen in the galaxy. There is one particularly hilarious moment between her and Qi’ra that got the whole theater laughing.
Now, how about Alden as Han? There are reports an acting coach had to be brought in to help his performance. Well, I don’t know if swagger is something you can teach, but I certainly think Alden’s got enough charisma and that devil-may-care smugness you expect from the role. I know he’s got comedic chops from what I’ve seen in Hail, Caesar! but I think he’s versatile enough to be an action star. I think it’s unfair to expect him to behave exactly like Harrison Ford as he’s not yet the Han we saw in A New Hope. There is a moment in the movie where I’m like, ‘yeah I can see how he becomes the sexy scoundrel we know and love.’ I’m glad Alden made the role his own instead of just an imitating Ford verbatim. I also like the fact that the movie gives just enough background story on Han without overwhelming us with details.
The supporting cast are pretty good too. Harrelson is always a fun actor to watch and he’s got that unpredictability the role requires. I haven’t seen Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones, but I can see why she’s cast here. She may seem like a sweet, demure girl at first but there’s also whole darker side of her. Unfortunately the romance between her and Han isn’t particularly memorable here, I mean it’s serviceable at best, not even half as interesting as Han’s relationship with Chewy or Lando. Paul Bettany is suddenly everywhere (like Josh Brolin!) as he was also in Avengers Infinity War, here he plays crime lord Dryden Vos (some cape action going on here as well) who has a history with Beckett. I quite like Rio too, and I wish he had more screen time in the movie.
Overall I had a blast with this movie. It’s a proper space adventure, you can even call it a space heist flick. I enjoyed the high-octane action scenes, specifically the chase scene in Falcon. It’s fun and nostalgic. Howard may not be Hollywood’s go-to action director but I remember enjoying the car scenes in Rush, and I think he did a great job here balancing the action and humor. The story might be on the light side and lacking the profound emotional moments like in The Last Jedi, but I think it fits well in the SW universe.
10 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review – SOLO: A Star Wars story”
I really thought I was going to enjoy this film but I found it to be quite boring. I actually sort of dozed off halfway through the film, it got a little better towards the end but by then I just didn’t care. And the lack of a big action sequence for the finale was kind of surprising since all of the Star Wars films ended with a bang. Maybe the reason was because they ran out of money because of the reshoots.
I thought performances were fine but the pacing and story were pretty weak. This might be Howard’s fault, I found his last few films to be quite boring.
Ahah that’s funny how our taste in action is so different. I actually think there are enough action sequences to keep me engaged. I don’t mind it not ending w/ a bang and the cameo reveal was quite a surprise to me in the end. The last film by Howard I saw was RUSH and I liked that one a lot, but I heard that whale film was pretty bad.
The whole train sequence reminded me of a Western. I didn’t love it, but I had fun with it too.
Hi Brittani! Yeah it was wasn’t it? That bit in the desert in the end reminded me of a Western, too.
Great review! “Serviceable” is a perfect way to describe the central romance. I honestly never knew how seriously to take their love, since neither of them seemed to care about loving each other too much. But I agree that the film had some thrills, and I did have a blast with that train robbery. I wasn’t a huge admirer of the movie, but I cannot believe they were actually able to release it, given all the drama behind the scenes.
Hi Alex! Yeah I think initially the romance seemed ok but overall it was just meh. But I love the relationship between Han and Chewy & Lando. I think the drama behind the scenes was as interesting (if not more) than the final product but well, it seems that the movie is still considered a flop given the enormous expectations for Star Wars movies.
This is a wonderfully written review that makes some salient points about the central performance. I also admired your perspective as a casual Star Wars fan.
I think that Solo: A Star Wars Story is a fascinating inversion of the burgeoning adolescence theme of the saga. Unfortunately, in execution, the theme has no emotional resonance due to a deficient central performance. But, the film picks up the slack with its world building and cinematic craftsmanship.
You can find out more by reading my review below.
If you find the piece to your liking, then please comment and follow.
Hi Sartaj! Interesting that you pointed out the ‘burgeoning adolescence theme’ as it seemed that way w/ Rogue One too. Y’know I actually didn’t expect an emotional performance for the character of Han, I think unlike Luke or Leia, he’s a rogue character so I didn’t expect to be too emotionally invested in him per se, but more intrigued/amused by him, if that makes sense. I thought that the backdrop of how his friendship with Chewy started was explored nicely and to me that’s the ’emotional’ piece of the film (more so than the romance). I do think this film is lacking an overall profundity that the other SW films had been able to achieve.
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