Reviews: a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away – Solo
Solo: A Star Wars Story,
Directed by Ron Howard,
Starring Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Joonas Suotamo, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Paul Bettany
It’s the origin story from the Galaxy far, far away, of one of the coolest characters and how he became the scruffy looking nerf herder and scoundrel that we all know and love. Young Han is trying to escape the horrid place he’s living in with his lover Qi’ra, but something goes wrong (of course) and he escapes. but she’s left behind, and Han joins the Imperial Navy to try work his way back to her. He meets up with some criminals and the adventures really begin.
The countless production snags and snafus with this film are well documented, from problems with casting, the script, the original directors being fired, and so on and so on. I have a problem with the current producers using the Star Wars franchise to push their own political views ahead of making sure that the fans, who pay the bills, are happy. But I try to put the behind the scenes stuff deep down and just enjoy the film for what it is, a film, entertainment, and really nothing else. Star Wars, for those of us born in the 70s, has been our snuggly blanket for a long time, and while some of the newer films have hit the mark, for me personally Solo makes it 50/50 of the new films.
Starting off, the set action pieces are just amazing and cannot be faulted, they are true action packed adventure pieces that move along at a great rate. The raid on the rail system to get the raw energy by the criminal gang was really high tension stuff. The film is about 135 minutes long, and without these great moments it would have dragged like my knuckles after eight gin and tonics on a Monday morning. The casting of Donald Glover as Lando is great, while he doesn’t have all of Billy Dee’s charm, he’s still probably the best choice for the role. Emilia Clarke, Mother of Dragons, is also great in her role as the love interest Qi’ra. Woody Harrelson plays the leader of the criminal group who Han joins, along with Chewie, and you can see where Han got a lot of his characteristics from the 70s and 80s movies, from this one character. The annoying political activist droid, who also can get the Falcon from one place to another with ease, could have been like the droid from Rogue One but is too preachy.
When it comes to casting though, the biggest problem is Han himself. Alden Ehrenreich, he has zero charm, zero charisma, and you get the feeling that he’s trying desperately to emulate Harrison Ford. This is the big problem with the film for fans of the original films, like myself, and like most of you, growing up Han Solo was the essence of cool. He was a rogue who had honour and the hero that felt uneasy with the title. I don’t know any geek, male or female, who loves the Star Wars movies who hasn’t used ‘I Know!’ when their partner has said ‘I love you!’ The script gets the action and basic plot spot on, but some of the dialogue is just tough to get through.
The black market plays a big part of the story and Paul Bettany is the evil head of the group. Solo wants to be as gritty as Rogue One but fails to cross the line. I would happily go back and watch it again in a cinema, we didn’t get to see it in IMAX for the press show, so that’s another reason I’d pay my own cash to see it again. But the memory of Original Trilogy Han is always going to linger in our minds while watching the film. For these movies in the Star Wars Universe about the characters that we love, be it Obi Wan, Boba Fett, or young Leia, to work they have to be nailed from the first production meeting to the end of editing. This is a half way decent science fiction film with a character that is vaguely like the one we love. The action cannot be faulted and the Easter eggs and shock cameos were a nice touch, but these are not enough, for me to save the film. It’s still better in my mind than The Last Jedi, but only just, and that’s not acceptable for me for a Star Wars film.