Solo: A Star Wars Story

“I have a really good feeling about this!”

This is the second time we have gotten a stand-alone Star Wars film, and the second time it accomplished the same basic goal; fixing a small plot hole in the original Star Wars.

Don’t get me wrong: this is a fun film. It was light, fun, with great characters and interesting action in a familiar world. Actually, one of the major strengths of the film is the world building, from new, previously unseen worlds to different kinds of droids, aliens and weapons. Yet none of it felt out of place, all flowing and building upon the universe of Star Wars in an organic way. Most of the smaller details were very meticulous and showed a lot of thought and care, too.

The cast was stellar, from the small roles to the big parts. Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo anchored the film with a different, but fun and charismatic take on the iconic character. Emilia Clarke was solid as Qi’ra (pronounced 'Kira'), a love interest for Solo, but she was probably the least interesting character of the group. Woody Harrelson came across very strongly as Beckett, a mentor of Solo’s, in a role that could have just been predictable. Paul Bettany should’ve gotten more screen time as one of the main antagonists, Dryden Vos. Thandie Newton’s character Val had a similar lack of screen time, but she made an impression with what she had.

My favorite characters, though, were Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian and his droid L3-37. All three almost stole every scene they were in, either by charisma, presence, or just good dialogue. Chewbacca has always been the sidekick, faithful and loyal. Here we get to see that loyalty form, and it’s really pleasing to watch. Lando is about exactly as I imagined he would be, and did the things I hoped Lando would do in this movie. As for the Droid, L3 was unique and played a surprising and important role in the Star Wars franchise I wasn’t expecting.

So, what did I mean by saying that the movie was essentially just another exercise in fixing a plot hole in the original Star Wars? Rogue One told the story of Jyn Erso and her father, who built the first Death Star. He was a part of the rebellion at heart and designed the battle station with a small flaw, easily overlooked but capable of destroying the whole station. This narrative hook fixed the small plot hole in the original film that the Empire would never design something that impressive with such an obvious design issue.

Which brings us to Solo. See, in Star Wars, Han Solo boasted that the Millennium Falcon could do the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs. The problem is that a parsec is a measure of space, not time. The way he framed the boast to Luke, it sounded like an impressive feat of speed, enough to sell him on the idea that the Millennium Falcon was a fast ship. Well, the entire second half of Solo is essentially one long (albeit fun) explanation of that boast.

The film had some rather infamous director issues. Originally helmed by the duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, they were replaced by the studio because of "creative differences."  Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Happy Days) was brought in halfway through production and re-shot nearly 80% of the film. Yet I didn’t really feel any major tonal choppiness that would normally result from a shake up like this, but I am curious what the Lord and Miller version of the film would've been.

Bits:

Han’s golden dice on a chain that showed up prominently in The Last Jedi makes an appearance in this one.

There’s a cameo by a certain character that establishes a connection to both the prequels and the cartoons in a somewhat startling way.

There are lot of Easter Eggs in this film, so many that I didn’t catch them all. A couple I noticed were Beckett wearing a familiar helmet from Return of the Jedi and Chewie actually pulling the arms off of someone, as warned by Han in Star Wars. Also, the Imperial March can be heard playing early on in the film. Lando gets Han's name wrong just like the Billy Dee Williams version of the character did in Empire.

The biggest question is whether this movie no one asked for is worth it? Well, there are two factors; Is it important? Not really. Essentially, it’s fluff, a fun heist movie. But is it worth watching though? Yes, it’s a fun heist movie. I don’t know what more I could’ve asked from this kind of film. If this had been a big dramatic tragedy like Rogue One, it wouldn’t have worked. Could it have had more depth? Probably. But what we got is a solid film that I honestly enjoyed.

3 out of 4 Tiny plot holes turned into full length film answers.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

5 comments:

UK Fan said...

Loved it! 100 miles an hour from start to finish and felt like a 'proper' Star Wars movie, probably my favourite Disney attempt at SW so far. Fantastic score/soundtrack by John Powell too!

Patryk said...

I still haven't seen it, but Your review made me want to go more then before reading it. The pretty small numbers the film is pulling at the box office had me worried. But it's probably The Last Jedi backlash more then he quality of this movie that's affecting the numbers.

Billie Doux said...

Thanks so much for your review, JD. I definitely want to see it, but I'm going to wait for the small screen. (Is it a sign of advancing age when you don't want to go to the actual theater to see a movie anymore?)

Logan Cox said...

It's good to see a mostly positive review of this movie, since it seems to have left a lot of other people cold. Then again, most of those people are blatant Star Wars fanatics who are not pleased that a Han Solo origin story would be just a fun heist movie. And there seems to be this idea now among the fandom that the content of a Star Wars movie is inconsequential if it doesn't add to all of the previous films in a very significant, very specific way. A rationale I refuse to adopt, since the novelty which made the very first movie so beloved was the fact that it was an unabashedly fun space adventure movie for the whole family, not a weighty saga with a quasi-religious following.

I might have to pay a ticket to see this now. After I finally see Infinity War, of course. And Deadpool 2. I'm really slacking off on the movie watching these days.

yodudeyo100 said...

I really don't understand why so many people are giving this movie crap! I loved it!