Nico’s Movie Review: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’
Didn't I just review a Star Wars movie?
Well, if you remember my opinion of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I'm a pretty big Star Wars fan, so it's not necessarily a problem we've got another so soon.
The problem is though, Solo: A Star Wars Story barely feels like a Star Wars movie.
This film seemed cursed from the start, and I won't go too in depth into the production problems it suffered, including going through three directors and rumors that Alden Ehrenreich's performance as the legendary Han Solo was so bad they had to hire an acting coach mid-production.
So, what do I think of it? I'll try to explain.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is, in essence, the origin story of Han Solo, the devilish rogue character we've known and loved since 1977. It sets out to explain where he came from, where he got his skills at flying and shooting and conniving, how he and Chewbacca met, and so on. Now, there's a very solid case to be made that a character like Han Solo is much more interesting when his background is shrouded in mystery, but the suits at Disney obviously don't agree, as this movie makes no effort to preserve the mystery.
I'm trying to avoid mentioning details of the film's plot at all, so I don't spoil it for anyone, so I will be speaking in somewhat vague terms. Solo starts by introducing us to Han, and...some girl who he clearly cares about (Emilia Clarke). They're trying to get off their scummy planet, but in the process they get separated. Han then goes on to join the Imperial Navy in an attempt to learn how to become a pilot, with the ultimate goal of returning to his planet to get Q'ira (his girlfriend) back.
Eventually, Han comes across Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his gang of thieves, and in a way they take him under their wing. Once this happens, I'd like to say the film starts to "unfold" and settle in to its own, but it really doesn't. To put it bluntly, the first third of this movie was completely unbearable to me. I didn't care about what was happening, and it just flat-out did not feel like a Star Wars movie at all. It gets better as it goes on, but my biggest criticism of this film is that it feels disjointed.
It seems like half the time, things just happen in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and as a viewer it was very unsatisfying. I wouldn't call it confusing, but I did find myself thinking repeatedly "oh, we're doing this now?" We jump through scenes and characters so quickly, nothing really feels meaningful. There's nothing beyond Han, Chewie, and eventually Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) for the audience to cling on to, because we aren't given enough time to feel invested in the characters or actions. And honestly, I wouldn't have felt invested with anyone at all if I wasn't already familiar with the classic heroes, which is incredibly lazy film-making.
Now, this is a very negative review, but I promise it comes from a place of love. And I will say, I actually like Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo. He does a pretty decent job of emulating Harrison Ford's mannerisms, and he definitely has the sarcastic and reluctant hero part down. I believed him as a young Han. However, it was incredibly annoying how they kept re-creating some of his classic lines from the original trilogy in an obvious and transparent attempt to make a connection ("I've got a bad feeling about this", "I know" to Princess Leia, etc). I promised myself after the third or fourth time that if I heard Woody Harrelson say "Great shot kid, that was one in a million" I was walking out of the theater.
Donald Glover as Lando was also really entertaining. Billy Dee Williams, I felt, didn't get enough screen time in the original trilogy, and Glover does a great job with the character. Lando is a character that isn't all that different from Han, but he puts on this air of grandiosity with capes and extravagant facial hair, and Glover's performance sells that.
I will say I feel like making Solo at all feels like a misstep. These "Star Wars Story" films would be better served either dealing with new, interesting characters and stories set in the universe (like what happened in Rogue One) or by making movies that help fill gaps a character's story, like the upcoming Obi-Wan Kenobi movie. Han Solo's story didn't have any gaps, in relation to the overall Star Wars arc regarding rebels and the Empire: he was simply a smuggler who got caught up in the mess after some space wizards wanted his ship.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is unavoidable for Star Wars fans, in a way. Either you'll see it and love it, or you'll see it and love to complain about it. I was really disappointed by this film, but I'll probably end up seeing the obviously set up sequel anyway since 1) I'm a Star Wars die-hard and 2) I'm curious to see what they do with a few of the characters that I can't mention due to spoilers.
If you're not a die-hard, though, and only remember seeing the original trilogy back in the day? I'd say skip it, frankly. It's not bad, but it's nowhere near great.
See the trailer below.