I’ve often thought to myself that some of the best stories have a better or equally interesting story behind them. In the realm of film, those stories take place behind the scenes and Solo: A Star Wars Story has had a production filled with ups and downs. A lot of replacing important crew members, an unsure direction creatively and performance issues, fans could feel a disturbance in the force with this film. I felt the same way, Han is an incredible character and whichever way the film would take his character, I couldn’t help but be cautious.
The first caution was probably the biggest one, Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo. It took some getting used to but once the film started to find the correct pace, his performance started to grow on me. The film never really adds anything to the deepen the character of Han, they use what they already had, it then becomes a series of adventures with an idealistic Han and Ehrenreich portrays the idealistic character traits well enough to guide us through the films many adventures. I think a lot of people are going to accept that there could have been worse options and just about praise Ehrenreich for at least putting in a performance.
Although, most of this film’s praise is going to go to Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. Glover already has the charisma and slick charm to become a good Lando and those traits are utilized for a greater effect. Lando’s teaming with L3-37 was interesting to see (despite taking a few comic lessons from K-2SO). Donald Glover feels like the performer that isn’t trying to act out mannerisms, he wants to bring something to the table and he managed to do so amusingly.
Rogue One and The Last Jedi have pretty much confirmed that Star Wars is turning into a more serious film series. Solo become a little more rebellious against this change and decided to revert to a more classic Star Wars feel, one that is plain and simple fun from start to end. One of the scenes I felt go this plain and simple fun right was the relationship that Han has with other characters. His first meeting with Chewbacca is a good piece of entertainment. Surprisingly a lot of critics aren’t talking about Han warming towards the Millennium Falcon. The moment he takes the wheel, you immediately know something special is about to happen and it does multiple times. His lust to want the Falcon is performed well by Ehrenreich and that gave me more joy than all the easter eggs Solo had to offer (and there are many).
Because of the production problems, I was worried that Solo: A Star Wars Story was going to be put together like a Frankenstein project. And for the first half, I thought my concerns came true because the tone of Solo is barely functional. I knew something was wrong when the film opened with explanation text without a title crawl. Rogue One never use a title crawl because it was trying to be something different, it was a choice that fits the film’s nature. But if you are going to have explanation text in a Star Wars film with the correct aesthetic look (plot devices capitalized) you may as well go the distance and have a crawl. Audiences don’t forgive films that had a chance and didn’t take it.
Although you have Star Wars royalty Lawrence Kasdan penning the script, the risk of these adventures was sidelined massively, which is surprising to me because Kasdan shined at scripting risk in his previous Star Wars works and even Raiders of the Lost Ark. I feel this is partially due to the non-existence of a powerful antagonist, someone who makes a life or death situation very real. Look back at Star Wars films and ask yourself how many times has a villain been introduced in the first act? This is a story technique Star Wars has perfected, it gives the impression that the antagonist has a significant influence on changes in the story and because of this when things inevitably change, they feel like life or death situations. Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos is decent but because you’ve introduced us to the villain halfway through the film, how are we suppose to believe that this character can pull the strings? This is again another missed opportunity by which time the film becomes just about tolerable.
That is a nutshell is the story of watching Solo: A Star Wars Story, it is not the clumsily assembled film we had thought it was going to be, but it misses out of a lot of opportunities to be favored by Star Wars Fans. The film understands the importance of Han Solo to Star Wars and at least the film attempts to reflect that importance to people who have followed Star Wars since it first changed cinema back in 1977. Somewhere along the way, however, the wires got crossed and instead reached out to the new generation. I’m sure the film would make great popcorn entertainment and I admit some scenes were uplifting as well as decent performances, but there’s simply not enough integrity to make the jump to mind-blowing entertainment.
Final Result: 6/10 – Above Average
Have you seen Solo: A Star Wars Story? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
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