Everyone’s favorite galactic smuggler is back in action as Solo: A Star Wars Story has hit theatres. After all of the behind the scenes turmoil, can this film capture the hearts of Star Wars fans?
Star Wars fans are a fickle bunch. This particular fandom can be extremely loving and toxic all at the same time. Original Trilogy purists tend to loathe Prequel enthusiasts, and let’s not even get into the debate over whether The Last Jedi was a good film or not. With the advent of the Star Wars Story route that Disney & LucasFilm have taken regarding semi-standalone filler movies, we’re being given more back stories and characters and events taking place between the main saga films. 2016’s Rogue One helped to tell the tale of the beginnings of the Rebel Alliance and the theft of the original plans to the Death Star.
This film is geared to tell Han’s origins and how he became one of the most notorious smugglers in the galaxy. Let’s get into some of the highs and lows of Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Alden Ehrenreich had some pretty large boots to fill portraying a younger version of Han Solo. One of the biggest things fans were surely wondering is just how Alden would do stepping in for Harrison Ford. For what it’s worth, Ehrenreich did an admirable job as Han Solo. It’s very strange seeing a new actor taking the place of such an icon like Ford, but Ehrenreich does a nice job playing the part. His character is enthusiastic and energetic, not trying too hard to mimic Ford’s mannerisms.
It was really neat to see Han’s beginnings on his home world of Corellia. This gritty, dingy planet is a far cry from some of the other locations previously seen in other Star Wars films and felt more grounded in reality despite the technology available. It definitely harkens back to the tones of Rogue One in the sense of this more grounded take. The plot seems fairly straightforward as Han is separated from love interest, Qi’Ra (Emilia Clarke). Seeing Han eventually enlisting in the ranks of the Empire in order to make it back to Qi’Ra added a new layer to his character that we hadn’t previously gotten in any of the other films.
It was also interesting to see how he got started in the smuggler’s life, as he meets up with fellow thieves Beckett (Woody Harrelson), Val (Thandie Newton) and the four-armed alien Rio Durant (voiced by Jon Favreau). Along the way he meets Chewie in a terrifying way as Chewie is being held captive in a mud pit where he’s been feeding on Imperial prisoners. The way Han and Chewie’s relationships unfolds and blossoms is one of the best parts of the movie. Speaking of the most famous Wookie, Chewbacca is much more of a force to be reckoned with in this film, as he can be frequently be seen wrecking shop and does his best Undertker impersonation, giving one opponent a Tombstone Piledriver.
The action sequences in Solo are very well done and feel very different from the main saga. Another great part of this film comes in the form of Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian. The smoothest man in the galaxy is perfectly adapted in Solo. It’s hard to imagine anyone else out-Billy Dee-ing Billy Dee Williams, but Glover does an amazing job. It wasn’t that he was trying to be a copycat, it’s like he actually channeled him in every way.
There were also some great moments that fans have been wanting to see and get more of a clearer picture on, especially with the fabled Kessel Run and how Han won the Millennium Falcon. Even with seeing the Kessel Run take place on screen, I still don’t understand what a damn parsec is, but I’ll digress.
Though previously mentioned regarding the plot at the start of the film, it quickly becomes jumbled and confusing, as Han finds Qi’Ra on the film’s villain Dryden Voss’s ship. The newly formed crew of Han, Qi’Ra, Beckett and Chewbacca are then tasked with stealing a fuel source for Voss before double-crossing him in order to help another smuggler faction that turns out to be a Rebellion faction and things just become messy. There were too many plot points and turns that it started to become confusing at points.
The main villain of Dryden Voss (Paul Bettany) was very bland and didn’t have much to do besides threaten the crew with death. Though there was plenty of action in the film, there were also plenty of times where I felt a bit bored. The script also had a habit of replaying the same beats, especially with Beckett’s character reiterating the fact that no one can be trusted. His betrayal of Han in the end was badly telegraphed and predictable, making his deceit anti-climactic. The constantly changing plot paired with predictability is enough to take audience-goers out of the film for stretches, despite the call backs and Easter Eggs thrown around to make it feel more like a Star Wars film.
While Solo isn’t a bad film, it’s also not a great film, falling somewhere in the middle, even being just alright. Though we got all the missing back story and cool connective tissue, it’s just hard to reconcile the fact that this movie just isn’t necessarily needed. There are plenty of other stories to tell in this gigantic universe and it’s a bit of a head scratcher of why the decisions to keep going back to the well are being made. Sure, it’s cool to see how Han won the Falcon or how he met Chewie, but in the long run we already know it happens. We didn’t need to see Darth Vader’s journey from a child on Tatooine to becoming a Dark Lord of the Sith and we don’t need to see how Han becomes a thief.
The end of the film shows a heel turn of Qi’Ra as she contacts…Darth Maul. Maul is still alive despite being cut in half by Obi Wan in The Phantom Menace. Though in various novelizations, comics and even the animated Star Wars show like The Clone Wars and Rebels, the average viewer my be left confused by hs appearance. As Solo takes place before the events of A New Hope but after Revenge of the Sith, it’s unclear how Maul is still alive or what his future plans are. This scene could open the door for a possible sequel to this film or could set the stage for an Obi Wan film, as we know he’s hiding out on Tatooine, which is where Han and Chewie are headed at the end of this film.
Now that you’ve seen the film, let us know your thoughts on it. What worked for you and what didn’t? What cool Easter Eggs and call backs to other Star Wars films did you pick up on? And do you want to keep seeing these spinoff films? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.