Solo: A Star Wars Story – Movie Review

movie reviewI have rarely seen a film that the press covered in such detail before it came out. The film did have some serious production issues with the original director duo (The guys who did the Lego Movie) being fired shortly after shooting of the film began. Creative differences they said. They brought Ron Howard on board. A solid director with a solid track record (I love Apollo 13). Then there were constant bad news about the Han Solo actor Alden Ehrenreich. Reports that they gave him an acting coach because his performance seemed not appropriate and good enough. Then the fans that constantly voiced their negative stance on the production as a whole. Tumultuous would be a word to perfectly describe the history of the film so far. Now what’s the result? Is the end product even a movie?

Han Solo. One of the most iconic movie characters ever created. The decision to make a standalone movie about him was seen critical from the get go. Even if it was the logical next step for Disney to do a Han Solo movie. Everyone expected it and a lot of people still complained when it was announced and happening. I was indifferent. What I knew was that the film would at least end up being entertaining. I also knew that we would finally get a different perspective on the SW universe. Not the ever grand perspective of Jedi or Sith… Rebels or Empire… no, we wanted to see something of the every day/every mans life in that universe. This movie kind of delivers on that. And sure, why not? The character of Han Solo needs and demands that backdrop.

The biggest thing of course… who would be casted to play Han Solo? I have seen so many youtube video titles reporting about that… insane. And pretty much all of them complained about the casting of Alden Ehrenreich. These people haven’t even seen the film and base their opinions solely on news that may or may not be true. Who knows? And even if it’s a sacrilege… yes, I thought Alden Ehrenreich did a nice job! Eat it, you crazy SW fans! He did perfectly fine and I’ll stay with that opinion, no matter what. I don’t know what people expect. There’s no young Harrison Ford out there. You simply can’t replicate his performance 1 to 1. Ford even admitted that SW never really was his cup of tea. So even the performance of the original actor probably wasn’t the best. Even if we all loved it, it was just fine for the part, nothing more. So yes, Ehrenreich did a fine enough job too. The only thing I would have loved to see more of would be Han’s more sleazy side. The character of the young Han Solo as portrayed in this film is a little ‘too good’.

We start on Corellia. A SW location long overdue for a visual treatment. Young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) is part of a gang of thieves trying to survive. Together with Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) he dreams of leaving the place and make something of his life. Both soon get a once in a lifetime opportunity. Due to unfortunate events both become separated and are forced to go their own ways. Due to circumstances Han is forced to join the Empire. One of the more interesting parts of the film. Seeing an infantry war from the imperial side. Some good scenes here with dense (similar to WW1) war imagery. We all know that Han has problems with authorities and so the empire isn’t really his thing. During a battle he teams up with Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his crew. Beckett is using the chaos of the battle to steal stuff from the empire. A desperate Han tries to join them. Before he can… we see how he meets up with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo). Han and Chewie join Becketts crew. Together they go on a heist mission that goes wrong. They have to justify their failure to a client called Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). Dryden is a pretty big name criminal and a dangerous enemy to have. Much to Han’s surprise he meets Qi’ra on Dryden’s ship. Quite some time has passed and Qi’ra isn’t exactly the person we know from the beginning of the film anymore. Dryden gives them a second chance with another job and sends Qi’ra with them. In all honesty… I would have been fine with a little less Emilia Clarke in this film. She’s a piece of wood. I don’t really see her appeal as an actress. For said job they need a new ship and find out that a certain Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) loves to gamble a lot. Han joins a game and manages to win Lando’s ship. The Millennium Falcon. Now that the whole gang of small time criminals found together, they start to go for the job. The infamous Kessel Run! In less than 12 parsecs? How can that even work?! Well, they made it possible. That’s the part with the coolest visuals and some solid action pieces. Let’s just say they survive it and leave the synopsis there. Overall it’s a nice and fun plot that changes locations quite a bit. Which is a welcome thing to have as long as it doesn’t get confusing. Which it doesn’t in this film.

Could it have been a better movie? Yes, it probably could have. I’m of the opinion that they need to give the writers more time to come up with interesting stuff! We don’t need two SW movies per year. It’s ridiculous. The good thing is that we don’t actually see how troubled the production of the film was. It has a good solid flow with some minor pacing issues here and there. The visual presentation was very dark at times. A look I would have wished for in Rogue One… but not really in a Han Solo movie. I’m sure they had their reasons for the dark presentation but more often than not it blocks the opportunities to see the rich detail of the sets and stuff in general. Which is a shame because there definitely is a rich detail going on. After some harsh critique for that… they might fix that for the Bluray release, I hope. Another downside were some cringeworthy fanservice moments. The film also spells out too many things. Seems to not have enough confidence in the brains of the audience. I liked the fact that the film had a rather quiet ending. Not the usual big battle.

To answer the question from earlier, yes it is a movie. It’s not even a bad one! But it’s also nothing more than ‘fine’ for what it wants to be. The film certainly has some glaring weak points. But the overall experience was positive and I’m certain I’ll revisit this first adventure with a younger Han Solo. And Disney… please do not try to re-cast Han Solo. Ehrenreich did a good job and he will most certainly grow into it over time.

No masterpiece but a solid and entertaining piece of film.


Solo: A Star Wars Story on IMDb

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