Solo: A Star Wars Story chronicles the early adventures of one of the most iconic eponymous characters in pop-culture, tracing the origins of the charming vagabond who shot first—a long time before he shot first.
Flawed but not fatal, Solo's fun enough while it lasts, and that's fine too.
Nobody really needed a Han Solo origin story, to begin with, but here we are. However, to move forward, we’ll have to trace ourselves back to the first “Star Wars Story”: Rogue One. (Now don’t get cocky, it’s no secret that the ‘77 surprise blockbuster hit Star Wars was the first Star Wars Story, but you know what I mean). The film may not have been qualitatively on par with most Star Wars films, but definitely broke box-office records—and that’s mostly because when it released worldwide, it didn’t have much to compete with around the time. That’s not really the case with Solo: A Star Wars Story, which arrives hot off the heels of consecutive superhero movie blockbusters Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2, and with the unstoppable amount of blockbuster-potentials only weeks away, its days to make an impact are numbered.
[…] it becomes clear why screenwriters Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan might have passed [Phil] Lord and [Chris] Miller’s madness for [Ron] Howard’s adaptability to pre-established structure.
But that’s beside the point. We’re a part of a generation that’s just about been hit by superhero fatigue, and—judging by Disney’s consistency with Star Wars movie releases—a possible waning of interest in the Force. Hear me out though: because of my undying motivation for Star Wars films to do well, I’d like to think I can be somewhat critical when it’s time. Additionally, the story behind Solo’s production woes doesn’t really help its case. Director Ron Howard (Inferno, 2016), however, seems to have done right by Disney’s vision of taking the universe forward, especially considering he was replacing the maverick directorial duo Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Lego Movie, 2014).
Sure, the switch and complete-180 might still sting, but when Han’s interactions—and relationships—with the mysterious Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke; HBO’s Game of Thrones) and thief/mentor Tobias (Woody Harrelson; The Edge of Seventeen, 2016) only go about adding to his lore, it becomes clear why screenwriters Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan might have passed Lord and Miller’s madness for Howard’s adaptability to pre-established structure. Plus, one can never merely have enough substantial Wookiee-narrative, and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo; Star Wars: The Last Jedi) receives an equally fun origin-arc that traces how his relationship with Solo became the tightly-knit kind we all know and love.
"Would that it were so simple!"
Alden Ehrenreich stars in Solo: A Star Wars Story, a Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Motion Pictures release.
Han Solo is a character that Harrison Ford (Blade Runner 2049, 2017) seemed forever to share an intense love-hate relationship with. Despite it, however, the very fact that Ford took liberties is how the swashbuckling space-smuggler holds a distinct identity now. Except, we do not see Ford in the iconic role anymore—it’s Alden Ehrenreich (from the hilarious meta-movie scene in Hail Ceasar!), and he’s filling in some pretty scary shoes. Now, Ehrenreich might not have channeled in any Ford, but by the end of the film, he does convincingly channel Han Solo, and that’s really what matters.
[L3-37 is] one of the more smartly written [droids] in the universe and comes off as just the right amount of reckless and funny.
But of the characters we’ve come to know, it’s Donald “Childish Gambino” Glover (Spider-Man: Homecoming, 2017) who steals the show as sassy-scoundrel Lando Calrissian. Glover nails the duality of his emotional heft with the whimsical outer strategist—so much so that the character is humanized enough to come off as occasionally vulnerable and highly strong-willed at the same time. Of course, with his magnetic charm comes Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s terrific voicing of the droid he owns: L3-37. She’s one of the more smartly written ones in the universe and comes off as just the right amount of reckless and funny. Her interactions with Calrissian are some of the film’s high points, and through her, there’s some real sneaky innuendo that’s never been talked of within any of the Star Wars movies before. Her presence alone is worth all your money, and that’s not even an overstatement.
Like the eponymous character, Solo isn’t perfect. It boasts less-than-great music, and Howard and his team can’t really replicate the dazzling vistas of Rogue One. But if you’re willing to forgive the steel-blue desaturated look, you’ll find an entertaining heist film by way of a space-western that ably traces Solo’s transformation into the much-loved-rogue he’s known as. If only viewers got an extra thread of how he came to be the known as the best pilot in the galaxy (we’re made to wait till the Kessel Run here), it would have been a lot more fun. But that’s fine too—we have an action-packed, reasonably humorous film, and that’s not too bad either.
There are a lot of things going against Solo here—between the production horror stories and the often flawed output, there will be endless nits to pick. Put those aside, however, and you’ll get a fun space-western heist adventure that serves up a very competent one-time watch, if not more. That Ehrenreich is good enough as Han is just icing on the cake.