By Ryan Keating-Lambert
Solo: A Star Wars Story is a refreshing (force free) entry in the Star Wars universe. An entertaining origin story that pays homage to the original character but also stands firmly on its own.
A young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) takes on the heist of a lifetime so he can elope and travel the galaxy with childhood sweetheart Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). As expected, he meets some familiar faces along the way.
Solo is a lot of fun. I went in expecting ‘just another new Star Wars movie’, but there’s a lot to love about this film and unlike more recent entries in the universe, Solo focuses less on the overall ‘force’ and Jedi order, and more on the scoundrels and grit behind the scenes. I liked The Last Jedi because of the way it reinvented the rules, but I think I’m just generally getting tired of the whole religion. There are a lot of Star Wars movies now, and the force is just losing its appeal. Jedi’s also have way too much emotional baggage.
The (non-Jedi) cast in Solo brings a lot to a film that’s driven by sarcastic and even witty dialogue and Solo’s immeasurable cock(iness). Ehrenreich brings most of the original flare of Harrison Ford’s character, and even gets that trademark smile down-pat. Despite his efforts though, there are still going to be a lot of angry Star Wars fans out there. Let’s be honest though. Would anyone actually be able to live up to Ford? Probably Meryl Streep, but that’s about it. Considering the hounding that Ehrenreich got from the press during filming, I’d say he did more than alright.-
Donald Glover, who is all the rage at the moment with television series Atlanta and the controversial Childish Gambino music video, brings a more flamboyant Lando Calrissian to the party here, and I wasn’t 100% sold at first, but he did eventually grow on me. Glover and Ehrenreich also managed to build some of that chemistry that Ford’s Solo and the old Lando (Billy Dee Williams) had in the original trilogy… which seems like an age ago now.
Woody Harrelson, as usual, brings 100% Harrelson to the table with smuggling extraordinaire, and clearly Solo ‘father figure’, Tobias Beckett. However, the real stand-outs here are the women. Emilia Clarke looks so comfortable in the Star Wars universe that it’s as if she’s always been there. Qi’ra is a surprisingly complex character and by far one of the most interesting in the film.
Then there’s the droid, L3-37 – the over-the-top and cynical copilot of Calrissian’s ‘Millennium Falcon’ who’s on a mission to gain equal rights for droids – the film’s not so subtle stab at current political issues is there, but thankfully never feels contrived. Voiced brilliantly by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, L3 is by far the funniest and most interesting droid I’ve seen in a while. Certainly more interesting than the new trilogy’s beeping basketball, BB-8.
As I said before, there are going to be haters, but the thing I love most about Solo, and also The Last Jedi, is how it’s not afraid to take risks. The film focuses solely on its character development and heist storyline while the Empire and Jedi presence takes a back seat. There’s a particularly creepy and beautiful sequence of a star destroyer materialising in the swirling clouds of the ‘Maelstrom’ space storm. The Empire are a looming presence, but never outstay their welcome. I loved that.
Solo has also clearly utilised creativity and diversity in its filmmaking process, unlike some of its more recent cousins (Rogue One did have some nice shots though). It’s unclear which director was responsible for the refreshing take on the Falcon – those long shots weaving through the corridors were beautiful, and that battle scene in the trenches that resembled World War I… impressive. Director Ron Howard (Rush) stepped in after directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord (The LEGO Movie) left because of ‘creative differences’ so who knows who decided what. There was some lovely post-apo Mad Max influence in art direction in costume design there too.
The only thing I didn’t appreciate in this film however, was the need to explain where ABSOLUTELY everything came from to justify the Solo from the original trilogy. We don’t need to have everything spoon-fed to us, do we? I don’t really care about where Solo got all of his trademark one-liners from, nor do I care about where those dice on the Millennium Falcon came from. Can we leave some things to mystery please? Star Wars isn’t exactly known for its ambiguity though.
Photo: The Playlist