I have finally got a chance to see the underperforming Solo: A Star Wars Story. For those of you who don’t know, the film is doing terrible at the box office. The reviews are all pretty good from critics and fans, but nobody is watching the film. For all of its flaws, Solo is a fun heist movie set in this massive universe that tells the story of the beloved Han Solo.
Reviewing this movie and not talking about the disaster that it went through during production is impossible. The director chair had a switch that saw Ron Howard step in to “fix” this film because Lucasfilm did not like the comedic direction that Solo was heading. We will never know if Ron Howard truly saved this film, or ended up hurting it. From what I can tell, yes and no.
The story starts with Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) who are scrapping to get some credits to be able to get off of their planet and pay off their debts. The couple’s plans get ruined which splits the two apart. Han joins the Empire to get a ship to fly and save Qi’ra. During his time serving in the military, Han meets Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), Beckett (Woody Harrelson), Val (Thandie Newton), and Rio (Jon Favreau). They go on a quest that will not only get Han enough to buy a ship but to pay off the debts for Beckett, Val, and Rio. We see these criminals battle and steal their way to hopefully gain their freedom. Along with the story, you will see how Han becomes the man that we all know and love in the Harrison Ford era.
The best part of the film is its characters. Emilia Clarke is as strong and beautiful as she is in Game of Thrones, Woody Harrelson puts on a good performance as usual, and the main villain Dryden (Paul Bettany) is compelling through every scene, but the two characters to talk about the most are Alden’s Han Solo and Donald Glover’s Lando. Alden does well as Han. A lot of people were worried, but he did fine. It would be difficult for anyone to match Harrison Ford’s charisma, but Alden did an excellent job to make this younger Han Solo believable. I would be perfectly happy to see more of him in the future. Donald Glover as Lando could not be more perfect. He stole the entire movie with his charm and his sassy droid sidekick L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). Every best scene in the film involved Lando and his droid in some capacity.
Outside of the characters, everything else is fairly plain. The story is fun, but there are no stakes. You can assume almost everything that is going to happen since a lot of these characters you don’t see or hear about in the other films. The building to who Han is from his last name being Solo, meeting Chewie, and obtaining the Millennium Falcon. A few of these moments are interesting and fun, but nothing that mind-blowing of his origin. The development of his character is straightforward and uncreatively done for the most part.
A significant problem with the writing was the humor. This movie had a ton of jokes that were properly placed throughout. Each joke had space between the next with all of the action and drama. However, none of it was funny to me. I liked the jokes in my mind, but the way all of the gags and jokes were executed, none of them put the slightest smile on my face. L3-37 was the funniest character in the movie, but even she could not make me laugh out loud. Maybe one or two jokes made me smile or laugh. Everything else was missing something to give it that power to make me laugh. The best way to describe the failure to the humor is that the film did not feel like there was much heart to it. There was a personality in there, but not enough to give the movie a real beating heart.
Nothing here expands the universe or characters in a way that is mind-blowing or too interesting. We see some new planets and technology that is interesting along with new aliens we have not seen before. Those are interesting, but they are to be expected in a Star Wars movie. All we get is something plain that gives a basic understanding of characters we have known and loved for years.
Solo is far from a bad movie. It is fun in a meaningless way. Seeing how Han meets Chewbacca and Lando is interesting. Seeing how he gets his iconic ship is a major highlight of the film. Along with a cast of new characters who are all great, that is about all Solo has to offer. I recommend watching it in theaters to support the film. I do not think Solo should do poorly at the box office. However, keep your expectations low. This is not a top-tier Star Wars movie, but it is better than a lot of movies that are coming out. I hope Lucasfilm gets a better vision for how they want to expand the universe with future films. With the next few spinoffs being similar stories such as a Boba Fett movie, I am not too confident in the future. Go see it and enjoy the ride for what it is, either in theater or on Netflix.
Image via Lucasfilm