Solo: A Star Wars Story Review (No Spoilers)

Solo is a fun movie. You’ll hear that a lot from critics and fans alike in the coming weeks, but is it any good…?

…let’s just say it’s serviceable.

We all know the stories of the troubled production and that the film is about our favorite smuggler and Nerf herder, Han Solo so I won’t bother with semantics. If you’re a fan, you know this stuff.

Before I go any further, I must address Alden Ehrenreich’s performance, since many people, including myself doubted his ability to portray Han. It was not an impression and he never took me out of the character of Han. Harrison Ford will always be Han Solo but Alden Ehrenreich gave us a competent version of Han that wasn’t too distracting and not as off putting as everyone, including myself believed.

With that said, Solo isn’t a film we needed in the Star Wars universe as most fans feel that we already know enough about the character of Han Solo. The film sometimes feels like a jumble of scenes, put together coherently, complete with nice cinematography and framed compositions by master filmmaker, Ron Howard. At times it feels like there is no momentum in the plot as we sort of jump from scene to scene with standard action movie situations our characters need to get in and out of in order to move themselves onto the next plot device.

Whether you liked The Last Jedi or not, it was a film that took risks and shook up the Star Wars universe like a seismic charge from Slave 1. Sadly, Solo doesn’t take many risks and plays it safe, giving us loads of fun and fan moments to enjoy on the first viewing but not much to want to come back to. Even Rogue One took risks by killing off its entire principal cast to further the plot, moving seamlessly into A New Hope.

Others have mentioned the clunky start to the film, I would have to agree, but once the Han/Qi’ra story kicks in, I was fascinated with the chemistry between Alden Ehrenreich and Emilia Clarke. Once Beckett (Woody Harrelson) came into play, I began to lose interest slowly until the train heist sequence, which became my favorite scene of the film. Enfys Nest came into play during this scene and was quickly a favorite of mine.

Regarding the cameo that’s arguably going to be the talking point of the film, it’s great to see this specific character on screen again but it doesn’t go anywhere beyond fan service to make the audience wonder where this person will fit into the Star Wars saga as a whole, especially given that we already know their fate in the new canon.

I was just happy to see a classic OT alien, (a Rodian) in this film!

The bigger problem I had with the cameo was that it was a wasted opportunity to introduce a bigger legacy character that we all expected to show up in this film (I think you all know who I’m talking about). In fact, there are two wasted opportunities altogether regarding fan favorite characters, who by all intents and purposes should have been in this film (by now you have to know who I’m talking about).

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My guess is that Lucasfilm is saving these two characters for a SW Underworld type spinoff, which will feature Alden Ehrenreich as Solo again, and meeting up and dealing with those two characters, thus proving why Ehrenreich signed a 3-picture deal with Lucasfilm. I also predict that the film will be from one of these characters’ point of view and we will see Han Solo, himself as a cameo.

So did I like anything about Solo? Short answer: Yes, it’s fun.

To be completely fair, Solo is a fun Summer popcorn movie that has some decent action pieces and eye candy. While it’s competent enough to be good and not horrible, its definitely not too memorable either. Chewbacca chews up the screen in his best role since the original trilogy and Donald Glover’s Lando gives us some great Lando moments, but not a whole lot in terms of character development.

Woody Harrelson is serviceable as Han’s mentor but ends up playing a somewhat cliched role with a few predictable ebbs and flows. For the most part, Thandie Newton, Jon Favreau and Phoebe Waller-Bridge work as supporting characters, although it felt sometimes as if L3-37 was trying a little too hard to be a wise-cracking feminist K2SO. I like K2 better because he felt more likeable overall, while L3 came off as flat out annoying at times.

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Is it better than Rogue One? Nope. Is it awful? No. Will you enjoy it? Probably, however it will fall off to the side in the larger scheme of things in the Star Wars universe. Solo isn’t exactly the Star Wars film we wanted or needed, but it’s a fun romp in the sandbox of films we cherish, until we get that Boba Fett spin off that was announced today.

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