In a galaxy far far away there was a time when Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie saved the Universe from Darth Vader and the Empire. Since the original 1977 film the road hasn’t been smooth, to be honest, it was embarrassing at times. In 2012 ‘A New Hope’ arrived when Disney bought Lucasfilm giving them financial clout and a new creative talent.
Episode 7, A Force Awakens proved there was life left in the old space dog and Rogue One proving the expansion was viable. Then we got Episode 8 Rian ‘Ruin’ Johnson upset the applecart ripping up the Star Wars playbook. It delivered the box office results influential critics where onboard but the fanbase split like a destructive earthquake.
The Pandora’s box opened with many loyal fans (male and female) loving what Johnson delivered others accused the greatest space opera getting too political. Things weren’t helped when Johnson himself on social media attacked the fans. Accusations of racism, sexism started flying from everywhere if you said you didn’t like Episode one. We weren’t fans of Johnson’s ‘destruction’ but we won’t get involved political accusations.
Now we have the second spin-off Solo: A Star Wars Story is now in cinemas. Can the most loved scoundrel in the galaxy Han Solo reunite the fanbase? Or has the negativity from The Last Jedi made Star Wars a toxic franchise? Sadly no.
The film is based on Han Solo the favourite space cowboy younger days (about 10 years before the original film). We were told we would be treated to an ‘original story’ based on the character that Harrison Ford made his own. Can anyone truly play Han the way Ford did be it a younger man and match his mannerisms? Not really, Hail! Caesar star Alden Ehrenreich many skeptics believed he would be the weak spot. He’s actually one of the film’s highlights.
We first meet Han on his home planet of Corellia on the run from crime lord Lady Proxima. With him is the love of his life Qi’ra (Emma Clarke). Just as the pair think they have escaped Qi’ra is captured and Han is trapped. Out of desperation, he volunteers to join the Empire finding himself thrown into a middle of a war. The rogue that he is, he tries anyway to escape and finds a potential route thanks to one of his own superiors Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson).
Eventually, he convinces Beckett to take him under his guidance and the pair embarks on some of the most dangerous heists in the universe. The path will see Han cross paths with his most loyal, oldest friend. Another soon to be ‘old friend’ who happens to have the keys to the ‘bird’ Han will become iconic with.
The open rant I didn’t intend to start in such a manner but actions of the previous film did affect how I was going to enjoy this film. I know not everyone will agree with what I said that’s fine. I’m not scared to change, just believe when you change you do it subtly.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is not a total disaster neither is it a welcomed film. The first big problem we meet in the opening scenes on Corellia. We know the planet it’s a dark, grim industrial planet, a tough place to grow up on. You could say it’s even a scene taken straight from a Charles Dickens novel. The cinematography was shot by Bradford Young (Arrival, Selma, A Most Violent Year), his dim saturated look just made those scenes very unwatchable due to underlit.
This now leads us to Ron Howard. He’s experienced established filmmaker who has made some fantastic films over the years: Rush, Cocoon, Willow, Apollo 13. What we got here is something that lacked soul and didn’t make the impact we expected. This leaves you wondering why were Phil Lord and Christopher Miller given the boot? We don’t know it would have been a better film, going by the recent success it might have been. They would have inputted one thing Solo really lacked, was old school Star Wars humour.
Ehrenreich as the iconic Han Solo takes the best option not trying to be a like for like a carbon copy of Han. Solid in delivery and things are helped thanks to Joonas Suotomo‘s Chewbacca. The pairs onscreen chemistry made you compelled to watch more. The one relationship that didn’t feel genuine was Han’s with Qi’ra (Clarke), on her own she’s a lot stronger, interesting most of all curious. Woody Harrelson‘s Beckett is good, he’s a father figure/Mentor to Han, a character with many dark shady layers. The most hyped performance is Donald Glover‘s Lando Calrissian is the most disappointing. He comes across as an egotistical scoundrel who is full of himself. More interested in his capes standing at a mirror all day and Pansexual, more like ‘Pan-appointed’.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is an overly crowded fan service that lacks soul. Rogue One was the first of the ‘Star Wars Story’ films that had a purpose, filling the gaps that lead to the original anthology. Solo, however, is a film we didn’t really need it just highlighted franchise fatigue and crying out for a ‘break’ to recharge.
Paul Devine |★★
sci-fi, Adventure | USA, 2018 | 12A | 24th May 2018 (UK) | Lucasfilm | Dir.Ron Howard | Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Paul Bettany
Originally posted at The Peoples Movies | 12th June 2018