FILM REVIEW: SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
BY CLAUDIO ZELAYA
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is ready to wow us as the most important story about a scoundrel and his wookie in a galaxy far far away. Directed by Ron Howard, the film stars Alden Ehrenreich as the title character as we’re introduced essentially to Han Solo-lite. It’s filled with Star Wars references from every era but manages to still feels like its own contained story. The main mission for this film was to introduce us a younger version of a character we already love and not feel like a cheap Harrison Ford impersonation. Luckily, “Solo” averts disaster and truly spins off from the main Star Wars saga.
This film has been plagued with drama from the get-go. From the firing of the original directors, to rumored problems on set with performers, and reshoots upon reshoots, this movie had everything to lose. Disney got good ole’ Ron Howard, who for the most part hasn’t been knocking it out of the park in recent times, and absolutely makes you care about a young Han Solo. So maybe instead of ‘boo-ole’ since he hasn’t been doing well. The story picks up after the Empire has brought their wrath to the galaxy and Han and his friend Kira, played by Emilia Clarke, are attempting to flee their planet run by gang lords. The movie does a great job showing us how innocent Han was while having the spunk of rebellion. We learn about a few events in his life that were mentioned in passing in other telling tales, but now are getting more context. Like many things in Star Wars, some great character moments are weighed down by a story that depends heavily on convenience.
It’s difficult not to reveal anything in the spoiler category, but the film moves along with threads of convenience after convenience. The plot itself is simple: a group of scoundrels are trying to steal an energy source to pay off some mobster they pissed off. That mobster is Dryden Vos played by Paul Bettany. His voice is so familiar you can’t help but think of Jarvis. Once you get past that, Paul is seen to go to a darker place than usual. So, instead think of evil Jarvis. Bar his performance, the villains in this movie really don’t do much. Like “The Last Jedi,” there are also some twists that the writers thought would come off as “caught you off guard there, boy-o”, but instead came off more like, “hey, we’re doing that thing again.” George Lucas once said that history is like poetry, so it will rhyme at times, but I’d rather they move away from that.
The plot issues are elevated by a great performing cast. The pressure was all on Ehrenreich as Solo to really kill it. There are subtle nods to Harrison Ford-esque expressions, but Alden really took the character and made it his own. The Han Solo-lite reference is mostly because Ford’s portrayal was hardened, Alden’s is way more optimistic. That innocence is a great contrast to all of the other characters in this movie that already have downed view of the world. His chemistry with Emilia Clarke shines, but his character is stuck in the old ways of needing to save the female protagonist. The film does, however, a good job of denying him that. Woody Harrelson plays himself but with a blaster. Not knocking his acting in the least, but it’s nothing to write home about. The one character I was really excited for and, ultimately, let down with was…Lando. Donald Glover has taken over the pop culture sphere recently so everyone was hoping we’d fall in love with HIS Lando, but instead we got his impersonation of Billy D. Williams. In contrast, not everyone will like Alden’s Han, but respect has to be given to the fact that it wasn’t him trying to be Harrison Ford. At no point did I believe this was a different Lando than one I’ve already met.
Despite the convenience the plot offered and some lacking character motivations, most of the actors did an outstanding job and the story still served to give us the most different Star Wars story we’ve gotten thus far. A few tropes are still present, but enough of it felt like a different galaxy far far away. Can I also just say that there’s a certain sequence that felt like the Rogue One movies we were promised? I’ll just leave that nugget there. “Solo: A Star Wars Story” ultimately ends with a lot of doors wide open and expands on the universe rather than making it smaller. At the very least, you’ll have a lot of fun after watching this.