Film Review: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Brings the Fun But Forgot the Story

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The spinoff series of the “Star Wars” saga began with moral and emotionally complex “Rogue One” which brought stakes and sorrow to a beloved franchise.  In the newest installment, “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” the film is jam-packed with fun, adventure, and head nods to the most devout fans around the world.  While all of that will keep the film well ahead of the frowned upon prequels, there’s a sense of laziness in the film’s story structure that keeps it bogged down like a car trying to get out of a ditch.  The wheels are spinning but it’s not going anywhere.  While helmed honorably by Alden Ehrenreich, we’re unsure if he took on the true study or research to Han Solo to become the iconic character that was made triumphant by Harrison Ford over 40 years ago.

Solo: A Star Wars Story,” tells the story of Han Solo, years before joining the Rebellion, as he works through the dark criminal underworld and meets his co-pilot Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover).  With a plethora of new characters, we see the early roots of the Millennium Falcon Captain and his evolution into the man who would become the counterpart to the Skywalker saga.

Director Ron Howard helms the action sequences with utter precision, creating set pieces that will go down as just as much fun as anything we’ve seen in the Star Wars universe.  It should be worth noting that taking duties over from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller in mid-production may not have been easy but he stitches everything together in passable fashion.  Where hiccups come is in the script by Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan.  In what may have been the “ballsiest” move in the “Star Wars” saga, they may have either redacted events from the prequels or tied in plot points from “Star Wars: Rebels,” the animated series on television.

In full disclosure, I’m unaware of the events or characters from the series and had to have it explained to me by Rodrigo Perez, Editor, and Owner of The Playlist.  If you have the energy to search for said answers, then you may feel satisfied with the results.  In reality, a film shouldn’t have to rely on the design of another show to make its point nor should it be saying something “new” without setting up the property properly.

As a die-hard fan of the series, I’m not someone who needs “questions” answered like:

  • How did Han meet Chewbacca?
  • Were Han and Lando ever friends?
  • How did Han make the Kessel run?
  • Did the Falcon look better at one point?
  • How did Han get mixed up with Jabba the Hutt?

The film attempts to do this on multiple occasions but in a lethargic, uneventful manner.  At the expense of the saga, the story decides to retcon things we knew and loved about the franchise in favor of “shock value.”

Woody Harrelson is Beckett and Alden Ehrenreich is Han Solo in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY.

While all these “unfavorables” seem to point at a “negative” review of the film, it’s hard to not enjoy the universe as it stands.  While Ehrenreich struggles to embody, the script is the fault of that.  Woody Harrelson fits much better into the world than I had expected.  Paul Bettany‘s Dryden Vos rides the line of bad-ass villain and ineffective crime lord but it works well.  Donald Glover is a natural scene-stealer as you can expect from him nowadays while Emilia Clarke seems to be channeling much more of “Game of Thrones” than she’s probably supposed to.  A new fan favorite will likely be L3-37, voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge.  A droid with an attitude that seems to be Disney’s franchise answer to the #MeToo movement.

In terms of the awards conversation, you can look at the film as a contender in categories like Production Design, Cinematography (impeccably shot by Bradford Young), Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and possibly Visual Effects.  As a possible three-movie trilogy in the works for young Han Solo, it’ll be interesting to see the general audience response to the film and this possible new beginning.

Solo: A Star Wars Story” has the makings of a rewatchable and enjoyable flick for a popcorn night.  Unsure if this expands the base or isolates it all together.  For what it’s worth, it’s hard to “hate” any of these films, and yes, that includes the prequels.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is distributed by Walt Disney Pictures and opens in theaters on May 25.

GRADE: (★★½)

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Clayton Davis--prolific writer and autism awareness advocate of Puerto Rican and Black descent, known for his relentless passion, dedication, and unique aptitude. Over the course of a decade, he has been criticizing both film and television extensively. To date, he has been either featured or quoted in an array of prominent outlets, including but not limited to The New York Times, CNN.com, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter. Growing up in the Bronx, Clayton’s avid interest in the movie world began the moment he first watched "Dead Poets Society” at just five years of age. While he struggled in English class all throughout grade school, he dived head first into writing, ultimately taking those insufficiencies and transforming them into ardent writings pertaining to all things film, television, and most importantly, the Academy Awards. In addition to crafting a collection of short stories that give a voice to films that haven’t made it to the silver screen, Clayton currently serves as the Founding Editor of AwardsCircuit.com. He also holds active voting membership at various esteemed organizations, such as the Broadcast Film Critics Association, Broadcast Television Journalists Association, African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, Black Reel Awards, and International Press Academy. Furthermore, Clayton obtained his B.A. degree in American Studies and Communications.