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Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Alden Ehrenreich and Joonas Suotamo star in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY

At one point in the not so distant past, I viewed the Star Wars brand as being as untouchable as a movie brand could get. They had a lot working in their favor, but that changed with the release of The Last Jedi. Now, their next few moves appear to be even more important since going too far in the wrong direction could do some serious damage. The first attempt in regaining the stability is Solo: A Star Wars Story. With this, there’s a chance for them to earn the trust of its fans back, but based on what I saw, they still have some work to do.

The Star Wars universe is once again going back to the past in an attempt to bring its fans something new. This time, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) is the center piece as he gets his own movie. Whether it’s his daring escapes, his meetings with familiar faces like Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), or crossing paths with dangerous new foes, we’re offered a chance to see how and where his ascent to beloved hero began.

From the opening scenes, you’ll notice that Alden Ehrenreich doesn’t appear to be Han Solo. And as the film moves along, you begin to notice that this isn’t going to change. Him starring as a different version of the character would be fine if Disney’s version of Lucasfilm were remaking Star Wars and decided to provide a fresh take on the poplar anti-hero, but that’s not what’s happening.

Instead of this being a remake, this is a prequel using characters who have already been carrying established traits along with them for four decades now. Because of that, it’s impossible not to compare them to what’s already been there for so long. The smart thing to do would have been to select an actor who could portray the version of the character the most people love. Doing so would help fans connect with the person they first met all those years ago as well as finding this specific journey more engaging.

What makes his portrayal worse is that his Solo kind of just blends in with everyone else that we meet. At no point in time does he ever manage to standout or take over a scene in his own movie. That’s says a lot on its own, but it says even more when you look at the fact that he doesn’t have anyone challenging him for that since no one else in the entire film is ever ambitious enough to take center stage.

Ehrenreich also lacks the charisma that a leading man should have and you realize that he would probably struggle to develop the kind of connection between the character and the audience that I spoke of a bit earlier in any leading role. If you ignore that he’s supposed to be playing Han Solo, his performance is mostly passable, but he’s still a forgettable lead in a forgettable movie. That’s not what you want when making something like this due to there being so much riding on it.

As far as the most positive aspects of Solo are concerned, you’ll have to look at the first act for that. Although the guy playing titular character isn’t a fantastic leading man here either, this portion is easily better than anything else we get here. That’s mainly due to the action set pieces that we have a chance to watch. These scenes had me into what was going on as my hopes rose and I begin to see the entertainment value that this could potentially have.

After a brief introduction to Solo and Qi’ra (played by Emilia Clarke), we’re rushed into more stuff to show us how things started coming together for our protagonist. There are times where it feels as if they breeze through anything substantial in terms of character development just to get to the parts that I found most enjoyable. That was a good thing in this instance, since so much of everything else being featured was more uninteresting and tame than it should have been.

As fun as the first act can be at times, the second is the direct opposite in a multitude of ways. Here, things slow down as the bland love story becomes a focal point. I understand that Hollywood feels the need to include a love story as a driving force in film, but it wasn’t necessary here. Instead of this taking up so much space, finding ways to let audiences spend more time with the characters that they actually care about and are going to see the movie for should have been seen as more important.

The final act turns out to be an improvement over the second, but remains clunky and maybe even patched together. This part needed to be more logical and stable in order to provide us with a more fulfilling finish. And while it wasn’t the best way to end Solo, it prevented the movie from falling completely over to the negative side of things after the first act.

In the end, Solo doesn’t succeed as much as it wants to. It’s trying to kick off a trilogy that not too many people appear to be that excited about in the first place, but it may actually hurt people’s interest in what comes after this initial entry. And I’m not saying it’s terrible or anything, but it certainly doesn’t reach the heights that seemed to be possible with a character like this. Instead of getting a high level adventure surrounding someone like him, we get a generic picture that may not bring in the repeat business Lucasfilm so desperately craves.

Rating: PG-13

Director: Ron Howard

Alden Ehrenreich
Woody Harrelson
Emilia Clarke
Donald Glover
Thandie Newton
Paul Bettany
Joonas Suotamo

Film Length: 143 minutes

Release Date: May 25, 2018

Distributor: Lucasfilm

  • Score - 5/10
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