“Solo: A Star Wars Story” stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, and Paul Bettany. Released on May 25, 2018, the film follows the young Han Solo as he teams up with a band of space outlaws.
The film is directed by Ron Howard, who also directed films such as “Apollo 13”, “A Beautiful Mind”, and “The Da Vinci Code”. It is the second film in the Star Wars anthology series. Another year, another journey into the galaxy far, far away. “Rogue One” marked the beginning of a new series of stories that expand the Star Wars universe, and while it had a couple of problems, it served as a worthy entry in the beloved franchise. This latest installment in the Star Wars series takes the audience back in time to explore the early chronicles of Han Solo, one of the memorable movie characters that made Harrison Ford famous. This is also Ron Howard’s second Lucasfilm project as a director, after he helmed the cult classic, “Willows”, back in 1988. A lot of people were quite skeptical about this film due to its production problems, including the creative differences between Lucasfilm and the filmmaker duo, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Not to mention the early trailers didn’t do a whole lot to impress the hard-core Star Wars fans, who were still butt-hurt over the final result of “The Last Jedi” back in December. These problems weren’t enough to stop me from seeing it, however, since I like to keep an open mind on these types of films, especially the ones that are related to Star Wars. With that in mind, let’s see if this film is able to meet people’s expectations, including mine.
Similar to “Rouge One”, “Solo” is set between the events of “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope”. While the film features some familiar characters like Han Solo (Ehrenreich), Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian (Glover), it also introduces some new characters as well, such as Han’s mentor, Tobias Beckett (Harrelson), Qi’ra (Clarke), Han’s lover, and the film’s antagonist, Dryden Vos (Bettany). The Star Wars films are known for exploring the ever-lasting intergalactic war between good and evil. “Solo” took a different direction in showcasing the criminal underworld as well as offering a few small elements that connect to the main Star Wars films. If there’s one thing that I should mention first after viewing it for myself, it’s this: do not expect anything more out of this film. This is a straightforward, action-packed space ride that includes a couple of twists and a pretty fun storyline. It doesn’t quite match the original trilogy in terms of storytelling and character depth, but as its own film, it’s pretty entertaining. There were plenty of Star Wars fans who were concerned about Alden Ehrenreich filling in Han Solo’s shoes when he was cast in the role, excluding me, of course. I only focus more on his acting talent rather than the casting choice in order to make things easier for me to judge his performance. I’ve only seen Ehrenreich in a couple of films, such as “Hail, Caesar” from the Coen brothers and Warren Beatty’s “Rules Don’t Apply”, so I was curious to see if he can take command in a leading role, or in this case, portray one of the most memorable characters in Star Wars history. All I can say is that I thought he did a nice job with his performance. Even though his execution on the humor still needs some work, Ehrenreich was able to nail the character’s likability and charisma almost perfectly. He’s no Harrison Ford, but he had enough moments to make me respect his portrayal. Harrelson and Clarke also turned in some solid performances as Tobias and Qi’ra, respectively, despite not being as memorable as Han Solo. Donald Glover was a delight to watch as Lando Calrissian. Like what Ehrenreich did with Solo, Glover embodies the role of Lando perfectly in terms of his personality. I can easily assume that Billy Dee Williams is pleased with what Glover brought to the table. While the film is classified as a “space Western”, it never took away the fact that it’s a Star Wars film, and Ron Howard made sure of that. Ranging from its superb use of visual effects to its sense of excitement and adventure, the look and feel of Star Wars has never lost its endearing flavor. One of the flaws I had with “Solo” was its villain, Dryden Vos. Paul Bettany was very suitable in the role, but I do feel that Dryden is probably one of the weakest villains in the franchise, in my opinion. He’s just a typical crime lord who couldn’t hold a candle to the likes of Darth Vader and Snoke. The film also features Solo’s first encounter with the Wookiee, Chewbacca, played by Joonas Suotamo, and their partnership with one another. Although their chemistry was sweet and amusing, the screenwriters somehow missed an opportunity to fully develop their friendship in the midst of its explosive and simple plot. The friendship between Han and Chewbacca is one of the main reasons why I adore Star Wars, and I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t make their first mission together so special. That’s just how I feel towards it, but feel free to disagree.
Overall, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” may not be as special (or deep) as the main Star Wars films, but it does offer a fun and action-packed experience that leaves the door open for more sci-fi adventures involving Han and Chewbacca. Thanks to its solid cast, its splendid use of visual effects, and an entertaining, yet flawed, story, this is another enjoyable addition to the Star Wars anthology collection. It may or may not impress a lot of Star Wars fans, especially those who are still skeptical on how Disney is handling the franchise. However, if you’re interested in seeing how Han Solo came to be or if you’re in a mood for a fun action movie, this film’s worth checking out. Just don’t expect it to be as great as the other installments in the Star Wars series.