Sunday 14 October 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story ★★★☆☆

Whilst we wait for the next big film in the ‘Stars Wars’ franchise to finally arrive, the newest movie in between is ‘Solo: A Stars Wars Story’. As you can probably guess, the film is basically an origin story of Han Solo (usually played by Harrison Ford but acted this time by Alden Ehrenreich)– an idea I would have expected to see a lot sooner given how long the franchise has been around and how important Solo actually is as a character, but as you may have noticed now is certainly the time for origins stories, so it fits in well with what the audience wants (or perhaps not, given the relatively low profit the film has made compared to all other films from the series).

Approximately ten years before the events of ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’, a young Han Solo is living on planet Corellia with Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), where they attempt to escape a local gang causing havoc. Unfortunately, they are stopped and only Han makes it away from the planet, joining the Imperial Navy in the process with the goal of being a pilot. Things don’t go quite as planned though, and Han ends up meeting his future smuggling partners Tobias (Woody Harrelson) and Val (Thandie Newton), and also the furry friend we all want to see more of on screen, Chewie (now played by Joonas Suotamo). 

There was one thing I was quite worried about with ‘Solo’ that I imagine others were as well, which was the performance of Han played by a completely different actor. Having been in our lives for so long, the character of Han and Harrison Ford himself have almost merged into one, so there was a danger that this current performance just couldn’t replicate Han in the same way. Interestingly, this was not the thing that preventing the film from succeeding as hoped, as Ehrenreich does an excellent job at preserving those key physical and personality-based traits that makeup Han as we know him. In general most of the acting was very good, although I felt two characters let the team down – Emilia Clarke feels flat and lacking in chemistry as Qi’ra, and although I would have liked to have seen more of Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) who I would say stole the show in some scenes, his robot friend played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (known for ‘Fleabag’) felt too deliberate and out of place with her scripting and somewhat too SJW to not come off as irritating.

What makes the film is the fan-service – and lots of it. A lot of elements of the many previous ‘Star Wars’ films are now explained in depth, and it gives somewhat of a new perspective to some of those. For hardcore fans, it’s great to be able to see the Falcon in a more pristine condition and to learn the story behind things from Han’s gun to those gold dice you probably don’t remember from the original film (or the most recent ones, if you’re not the most observant).

It’s just a shame that, despite some good performances and an intricate level of detail, it just doesn’t have the presence that the main films from the series do. The action is good and the story is okay, but it doesn’t stand out and the pacing feels too fast, leading to a bit of a tangle at the end of the film. ‘Solo: A Star Wars Movie’ has been described as a flop and isn’t a film I’d encourage everyone to rush out and buy immediately, but it’s still worth a watch if you’re a die-hard fan of the series. 

Hannah Read
Solo: A Star Wars Story at CeX

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