Solo: A Star Wars Story Movie Review
While Star Wars has always been a bit more fantasy than sci-fi, Solo is downright whimsical at times and I’m not really sure how I feel about that overall. It certainly has a very different feel from many of the other Star Wars films that we’ve seen over the years, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Everyone knows that Han Solo was always a swashbuckling anti-hero. A scoundrel that can’t help but do the right thing no matter how selfish he might seem. Solo shows the origin of how Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) came to become the legend that we all know and love. Basically, audiences get to see how Han came to know the likes of Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), as well as how he managed to do the Kessel run in 12 parsecs in the Millenium Falcon (it makes sense when you see it). It also introduces a number of other characters that all had a hand in shaping the young smuggler. Including a mentor (Woody Harrelson) and an old flame (Emilia Clarke). All of whom I’m sure we’ll see more of in the inevitable sequel.
At its heart, Solo is a heist film. While it might not be quite on the same level as Rogue One, it’s interesting to see if this trend of setting genre films in the Star Wars universe is going to continue. Ron Howard also uses a lot of thematic elements that more closely resemble westerns than what we traditionally see in sci-fi films. In fact, Han is very much a smugger, more arrogant young Clint Eastwood. It’s hard to describe it, but you’ll definitely know it when you see it.
So the biggest problem I had with Solo is the fact that it’s just so damn campy so often. It’s almost like Ron Howard was trying to wink at the audience as often as possible. Something that was also very clearly an issue in Last Jedi. The difference here is that Howard actually manages to pull it off for the most part. His fan service is exactly the kind that works because it’s not self-indulgent. However, it’s hard not to notice that Ehrenreich and Glover are both doing their best impressions of their predecessors. Don’t get me wrong, they are damn good impressions, but they get a little iffy after too much use in certain scenes. Still, I have to admit that they managed to capture the spirit of the characters that they so boldly portray. There are some other issues with the film, especially when things become a little too Jim Henson-esque. Of course, he did a lot of the original effects for Star Wars, but this felt more like Labyrinth than that.
Despite the fact that Solo didn’t feel very much like a Star Wars movie, which isn’t a bad thing in itself. It just that it was not what I was expecting. It’s a very light-hearted film despite having a very dark aesthetic. This undermines some of the sequences that are meant to be more menacing or to intimidate the audience, but it stays in the spirit of the character. That being said, Solo does have some issues with the overall cohesion of the film. This is probably in part to the fact that Ron Howard had to replace the original directors. Honestly, these sorts of situations have never ended well in the past, but Solo actually does a pretty good job of cobbling the pieces together. It might not have been as smooth as it’s protagonist, but Solo does a good job establishing the legend behind the man.
Honestly, I really did enjoy watching Solo. The problems with it are glaring at certain points, but like I always say, not all great movies are good. I was expecting the film to be much more of a train wreck given the amount of drama that happened during production. Solo is a genuinely fun film that manages to deliver on a lot of fronts. Watching the legendary Kessel run is everything that fans could want from the sequence. Of course, the real highlight of the movie is the new character L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). I don’t know how they keep hitting home runs with the new droids they introduce, but that is something that the new films definitely have over the old. This new droid is a sassy little navigator who spends her time triumphing equal rights for droids (I guess this was a different time in the Star Wars universe). The most fun I had was watching this character triumphing her cause. Though I am a little disappointed that the term proletariat wasn’t thrown out there.
All in all, the Solo movie has plenty of problems just like The Last Jedi. The difference is that it’s so enjoyable that it’s easy to overlook these problems. Ehrenreich and Suotamo have some impressive chemistry together that goes a long way establishing credibility for their performances. However, Solo is hardly a beacon of light in the Star Wars universe, but it’s a far cry from the likes of the prequels and Last Jedi. I suppose you could say it’s fair to middling as a Star Wars movie. As a summer blockbuster though, it’s a pretty solid success.