Published on May 25th, 2018 | by Craig Silliphant0
Solo: A Star Wars Story
The Adventures of Young Han Solo: A Star Wars Story…er…Solo: A Star Wars Story hits the big screen and it’s probably better than you’d hoped.
It felt to some like we’d already reached peak Star Wars with the announcement of a young Han Solo movie. Many of us grew up with only one Star Wars film, then two, then three, then nothing for many years. Now they’re cranking them out at a pace we would have plotzed for as kids. If you’re a purist, or just hate franchise building, this may be a bad thing. But if you can, “let go of your feelings,” and the cultural weight of these movies in your mind, and just enjoy them as you might something as prolific as the Bond franchise, you’re in a good place. I didn’t go in to Solo: A Star Wars Story with high expectations, which was probably helped a lot.
Solo tells the story of, you guessed it, Han Solo. He escapes his Oliver Twist upbringing on Corellia and joins the Imperials so he can become a pilot. He becomes part of a crew of thieves for hire that are pulling a big job. If successful, he can buy his own ship and go back for the childhood sweetheart he was forced to leave behind. Things don’t stay that simple for long though, and we are launched into an adventure that puts together pieces we’ve only heard about before.
There’s not a lot of depth to the film; Solo is more concerned with being a swashbuckling adventure, which it succeeds at. It’s a well-paced actioner. That’s not to say it doesn’t have any deeper themes or emotional moments, but it’s built for fun, not profound thought. I’m actually happy about this, as I want to take my (almost) five-year old son to this film. He’s obsessed with Star Wars right now (and I’m living vicariously through him), but has yet to see one in the theatre. I think this movie is perfect for his five-year old attention span. Take that to mean what you will for adults.
There’s a lot of fan service, some of which is fun, some of which gets a bit grating. It does that thing where it has to explain every little detail of his origin based on lore we already know. It makes sense that this is the movie where we see how Han meets his hetero life mate, Chewbacca. It makes sense that we see how they came across the Millennium Falcon. But it takes some of these things to silly degrees, like, say, how Han got his blaster. Some of the fan service is fun, but every five minutes doesn’t have to be, “oh, so THAT’S how he got his ____.” (It’s like Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade showing how Indy got his whip, hat, and scar, but now imagine that peppered through the whole movie instead of a quick prelude).
What many people will be asking is, how does the kid do? I certainly don’t envy Alden Ehrenreich, stepping into the pivotal Han Solo role, replacing one of the most iconic actors in film history to play one of the most iconic characters in pop culture. That’s a lot of pressure. For the most part, he does a good job. It’s maybe not quite as good as Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Karl Urban replacing the original Star Trek crew, but for all the talk of Ehrenreich needing acting lessons, etc, he does just fine. And not messing it up is a good enough place to be in this role.
One of the really bright spots of the movie is Han and Chewie’s relationship. In fact, it wouldn’t have hurt the movie to knuckle down on this a little further. It sometimes gets lost in the noise as well as in the other relationships they are building. It’s also interesting that we see a Han that is less beaten down by the universe — this is the first adventure on the way to being the cynic we meet in A New Hope.
Without giving anything away, there are minor issues near the end that make the timeline of the movie confusing, especially if you don’t know your Star Wars lore — enough to pull you out of the movie. A few of us left the theatre scratching our heads. (As a side note for anyone that’s seen the movie and is trying to figure this out, the story seems to take place 11 to 14 years before A New Hope).
In regards to Star Wars fatigue, if I have to go to more CGI blockbusters, they might as well be Star Wars movies instead of The Rock fighting giant monsters or whatever. And if we’re doing more of these standalone spin offs, hurry up and give us a Kenobi movie with Ewan McGregor, the best part of the prequels. (Seriously, I have a whole plot in my head where he has to leave Tatooine to go on an adventure, then at the end comes back to settle into years of living like a weird hermit and spying on young Luke).
And in terms of Solo: A Star Wars Story itself, if you were saying, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” rest assured it’s far from the trainwreck some people were anticipating. It’s nowhere near the best Star Wars movie we’ve seen, but it’s a serviceable entry.