Film Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Someone else has probably used this, but what the heck…. ahem. The problem with Solo is that it’s very so-so.

The problem with the prequel in general is that we all know where this is going. And while it can be fun to see how characters get there sometimes it just feels like ticking the boxes of familiar touches being added or lazy forshadowing. Both are on display here.

What do we know about Han Solo’s life before the original trilogy. Well, his loyal companion is Chewbacca, he’s a smuggler in trouble with Jabba the Hutt and he won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian. So, here we have him meet and rescue Chewie, hints of Jabba on the horizon and the card game where he wins the ship.

The winning of the ship is one of the film’s weak spots. In Empire we get the impression that Lando and Han are old buddies who have been through a lot, which is why Han trusts him and why his betrayal hurts him. While Donald Glover is wonderful as the swaggering, posturing Lando, their relationship is fleeting.

While Lando may reappear in the sequels this leaves itself wide open for, the fact he’s already lost the Falcon means that their relationship already has an edge to it. Why not have Han covet the ship here but only win it later?

Glover is one of many strong performers here, along with Woody Harrelson as Beckett, the outlaw who Han teams up with and serves as a sort of mentor. Paul Bettany chews the scenery as the villain and in the femme fatale role Emilia Clarke does well enough with a fairly standard part.

This is the problem. A lot of it is standard. There are double crosses you see from miles away, characters act predictably and the only real shock for me was the reappearance of a familiar, villainous face.

The film is entertaining enough but it’s decidedly average. While there are a couple of laughs and a few decent action sequences, there’s nothing that makes it really stand out. It passes the time but doesn’t really stay with you.

I feel as the lead Alden Ehrenreich may get some of the blame, and he doesn’t have Ford’s charisma, but few do. He does okay and does capture the character’s bluffing nature and reliance on luck, but the role he gets is painfully naive and lacks the sarcastic edge that made Solo eclipse Luke Skywalker. Perhaps the sequels will have him grow more cynical.

Sequels seem an inevitability given the way the movie ends, but frankly, I don’t really care. Personally? I’d rather just have a Lando movie come out, where we follow Glover’s character on various schemes as he styles and profiles across the universe.

Things this film gets right- the casting of Glover and Harrison, a chase through a cosmic storm, having fun with a hammy villain, one twist, the interplay between Han and Chewie. But mainly the inclusion of Lando’s droid L3, who rails against the injustices droids face, and wants rebellion, she also gets many of the laughs. I thought it was Gwendoline Christie on voiceover duties but it turns out to be Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who was in Broadchurch, apparently.

What does it get wrong? Han is written weakly, it’s predictable, they rush introducing the iconic Solo features, underwritten role for Clarke and the fact much of the film takes place in the gloom. We’ve seen the Falcon before, and it was lit decently, but here half the ship is in near darkness. Lighten up.

Verdict: Hit and miss, with the misses edging it. The film isn’t without it’s charms but it feels unnecessary, rushed and lazy. Definitely a lesser entry in the franchise. 6/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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