Movie Review: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’


Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Alden Enrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Jon Favreau 

Plot: Han is a young thief under the thumb of a local gangster. He plans to escape with his lover Qi’ra and fly off into the sunset but when they get separated Han has to build his skills as an outlaw to reunite with her.

Review: So here we have the most fan requested of the ‘Star Wars Stories’ movies. Does it pay to give the fans what they want? Well, we can say that this movie features a perfectly cast space scoundrel who oozes charm and bravado while looking cool. It also has Alden Enrenreich as Han Solo.

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Ok, that was mean. Alden Enrenreich doesn’t do a terrible job in the role. He certainly looks the business, but he never quite feels like the Han Solo we’ve known all our lives. It feels like he’s working hard to be cool and badass, for Harrison Ford it seemed as natural as breathing. And putting any leading man in this role alongside Donald Glover isn’t really fair. Glover is one of the great talents of his generation across multiple fields. If you can’t already tell, Glover is bloody perfect filling the boots of Billy Dee Williams.

The biggest problem with Solo as a movie is that it falls into the same pattern as many prequels, which is that they don’t tell a story so much as they work down a checklist. He gets the name ‘Solo’…check. He meets Chewie…check. He gets his blaster…check. He meets Lando…check.

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You get the idea. I find it perplexing the way prequels insist on adding ridiculous levels of importance to recognisable props than really telling a story. There IS a story to be told about Han Solo, but they couldn’t seem to find it. Instead it’s the story of Han’s true love…which is a bad idea because he’s already part of the most important couple in Star Wars history.

As with any movie that has gone through a change in director and has some very watchful studio executives in charge there’s some cracks. Beckett (Harrelson) is introduced as a crook who is bound at the hip to his partner Val (Newton), with whom he clearly has a romantic relationship. Later in the film Beckett lectures Solo on the importance of going it alone. It’s a complete turn around for the character. 

This is the point where I realise that I have been coming down pretty negative. The truth is that I enjoyed Solo. It’s fun, it has some good design elements. Most of the cast are very good and imbue the movie with a sense of fun (Glover is the best of the bunch, no doubt about that). The script could easily have been trimmed down as the first and third acts have some serious drag factor. When Solo and his crew get into heist mode things are pretty damned exciting. The famous Kessell Run (I don’t care enough to look up the spelling) is a really fun sequence.

One thing that could absolutely have been cut and trashed are the comedy side-kicks. First we get a four armed monkey pilot who straight up looks like a cartoon character, then a loud-mouthed, oblivious robot who keeps demanding equal rights. We can’t help but wonder if she, complete with her weird effeminate hips, isn’t some compensation for dickheads complaining about ‘feminist propaganda’. Either way, both these characters have a certain…Jar Jar aspect to them.

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The film is plenty of fun to watch, and there’s no doubt that many Star Wars fans would get a kick out of the references to the original film. The burgeoning friendship between Han and Chewie works well. With the problems weighing it down it ultimately winds up being a fun footnote in the Star Wars saga.

Rating: SIX out of TEN

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