Solo: A Star Wars Story Review
This week sees the release of Solo: A Star Wars story, the latest movie in the Star Wars saga and the second ‘Story’ film set in a galaxy far far away.
Having seen the film at its midnight release I will be giving my thoughts and impression on the film below but fair warning there Will Be SPOILERS!
So save this page, go and enjoy the film and then come back to find out what I thought.
Solo sees the Star Wars franchise return to the stand alone format that started with Rogue One and this time allows us to see how the infamous smuggler got his start.
One of my biggest concerns going into this film the performance of Alden Ehrenreich. Not his quality as an actor, that was never in doubt, but his ability to capture the spirit of Han Solo.
I am very happy to say that he does a very good job. Not a great job but his version of Han didn’t take me out of the film and in many scenes he absolutely nails the role. Many of his lines and mannerisms completely feels like the same character Harrison Ford played and when it wasn’t spot on it felt more like a version of Han, rather than not him at all.
The rest of the cast varies from distracting to great for me. Stand outs were Joonas Suotamo’s Chewbacca and Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian. These two completely encapsulated their characters and lived up to the legacy laid down before them. On the other end of the scale Thandie Newton’s performance as Val was just distracting. I found that she stuck out and I didn’t believe her role. This could be because of her prominence in Westworld more than her actual performance but its something I struggled with.
Woody Harrelson and Emilia Clarke gave solid performances and just managed to convince me of their characters but there roles certainly were not stand outs.
I think these issues are something Star Wars will struggle will going forward when using established actors/actresses but with smart casting it is avoidable. Star Wars never needs to cast a ‘big name’ to sell a film though so hopefully they don’t use that tactic.
The other big question mark over the film was how it would approach the story. The only other ‘Story’ film, Rogue One, had its premise nicely set out with the concept of stealing the Death Star plans. Other than being about Hans early years we had very little to speculate on about this film.
This isn’t your normal Star Wars film. It isn’t a dramatic, war based epic that the other films have been. This is a more intimate story that build the characters back story but ultimately doesn’t influence the larger galaxy. Some casual fans may walk away from this film feeling a little flat as it wasn’t the ‘edge of your seat’ thriller we have come to expect, but its smaller story really does work.
The plot is pretty paint by numbers at points. Escape, team up, fail, go again, get betrayed, however all of these moments are there to serve the characters. It’s the sort of film I wanted when they announced they were doing stand alone films. It sets the film away from all the drama of the Episode films and gives you an insight into what happens in the rest of the galaxy away from the Jedi and Sith. Will it be remembered as the best Star Wars film, no. But if Disney and Lucas Film keep putting out films like this then the Star Wars universe will steadily get really fleshed out and each film will help build on all the others like Marvel has done with the MCU.
Where this film does really succeed though is its fan service. It’s not over the top nor is it in your face but there are countless references to other characters and locations from the films, novels and TV shows that only the hard core fans will pick up on. It also recognises the animated shows in a major way with one big reveal towards the end of the film.
To the casual fans that have just seen the films, Darth Maul is just that ‘cool spikey head guy from the first film’ but to fans of Clone Wars and Rebels he has become one of the most popular characters ever. Despite his apparent death in The Phantom Menace, Darth Maul has lived on with animatronic legs to continuously cause issues for the protagonists of both animated shows. This has been his first appearance or even mention in a feature film since Episode 1 however and so now he is once again reintroduced to the movie fans.
His appearance is very short but he is revealed to be the gangster pulling the strings behind the films lead antagonist Dryden Vos, played by Paul Bettany. It’s his inclusion though that throws up the most questions. Was this just a nod to the fans of the TV series or will we be seeing more of Maul in future ‘Story’ films. I personally hope for the latter and would actually now love a Solo sequel set around Maul being the main villain especially with Han’s love interest Qi’ra leaving to go serve Maul at the end of the film.
Solo is a film that I think will be remembered more fondly in years to come. It’s clearly a film where Disney and Lucasfilm are still finding their feet but they have crafted a solid film that truly does build on Han’s backstory not tarnish it. As a film on its on its fun but ultimately not that memorable. Within the context of the Star Wars galaxy though it adds depth and context to the narrative away from the Skywalkers.
What did you think about Solo? Let me know in the comments down below.