This film was surprisingly good. The first time I heard about the project, I wasn’t interested. ‘Star Wars’ and ‘prequels’ tend to not work out. I had no plans on seeing it until that first trailer dropped during the Super Bowl. And boy am I so glad my fears were wrong. The 2018 movie directed by…. well actually this is where it gets a little weird. Almost an entire movie was directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street Remake) and it was apparently so off script and bad that the studio fired the directors. With less then a year until the release date, Ron Howard was brought in and basically filmed an entire new movie. I have no idea what the other version looks like but I am in love with the final product that we got to see in theaters; a gritty street level version of the Star Wars universe. We don’t always need titanic battles of good vs evil for the stakes of the force. Sometimes its fun to just see some morally crooked characters doing some bad things to some worse people.
Han Solo is not Harrison Ford, as much as people associate the two. George Lucas created the character and molded a young actor into the arrogant scum bag with a heart of gold. Alden Ehrenreich’s performance is acceptable. He is not playing Harrison Ford, so the comparison feels unnecessary. There are so many scenes in the movie where you forget this is even a different actor anyways. A perfect example is the Sabacc card game scene where Han meets Lando. It’s possibly my favorite scene in the whole movie. There aren’t explosions, chase scenes, or people shooting at each other. You feel like this is the actual way Han Solo met Lando Calrissian. There chemistry throughout the whole movie is perfect. To be fair, it’s only half due to Alden. One casting choice I never see anyone argue about is Donald Glover as Lando. He is execlent at his portrayal of the character. As unlikely as it is, I hope we get to see more of his performance in future movies.
Aside from Han, Lando, and Chewbacca, we’ll get to him later, everyone else in this movie is a brand new character. Woody Harrison plays a great mentor to a young Han, teaching him to never trust anyone. I liked Emilia Clarke’s love interest because it’s far more complicated and real then when Han falls for Princess Leia. Aside from those two though, the rest of the cast fell flat. Jon Favreau plays a CG monkey alien whose every other line is irritating. Paul Bettany plays a two dimensional mob boss that has no real uniqueness besides some weird red face rash. The sassy robot L3-37, voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is kind of hard to get behind. I appreciate them introducing a droid that fights for free will (I can’t stand C3-P0) but there’s a trend in Hollywood of sassy robots being smart asses for comedic reasons, and it just doesn’t make me laugh. She’s so annoying even Lando roles his eyes at her. I did appreciate a lot of the new elements introduced in the movie for sure, unfortunately there weren’t too many of them.
Nostalgia is now overfilling the movie industry. Solo is a movie with so many references and origin explanations that I think most of this movie was written by questions like “so how did Han get the Falcon” and “what’s the Kessel run?” Now don’t get me wrong… both of those scenes are awesome! But when the entire movie is just setting up the original trilogy, it gets hard to see it as an individual experience. I think what also ruins the cameos and references is the fact that a lot of them are the same we saw just a few years prior in Episode 7. The feeling of seeing the Millennium Falcon would have been more breathtaking if there had been 30 years since we last saw it instead of 6 months. That being said there were references, one specific huge one, that I loved. One origin story in particular that won me over was how Chewie went from being a captured Wookie prisoner, to being the best friend Han ever had. Chewbacca, played by Joonas Suotamo (who was also the character in episodes 7 and 8), is a joy throughout the film. Really it’s as much his movie as it is Han Solo’s. The character is probably more fleshed out, and has more screen time, in this movie then all the rest put together. What sucks is the fact that no one really got to see it.
This movie didn’t do great in the box office, but I’m confident in saying that isn’t an indication of fault. There were so many factors people don’t consider. The entire movie had to basically be re-shot by Ron Howard once he took over, which blew up the budget and left no room for additional marketing. Disney refused to change the release date, even though it came out within the same month as Deadpool 2 and Avengers Infinity War (two movies guaranteed to drain the pockets of the same audience demographic). Another thing I strongly consider caused poor sales was… The Fandom Menace. The “true fans” of Star Wars that have made the franchise more about politics and drama then just enjoying the stories. Almost no one I know even went and saw the movie. Even though everyone that did, loved it. If people were just uninterested in the character’s origin, that’s one thing. But so many of the internet masses brought in politics and comparison hatred. Disliking The Last Jedi, Lando’s sexuality, or Kathleen Kennedy is no reason to boycott a movie about one of the coolest main characters of all time. The Fandom Menace disgusts me, and because of their boycott, we might never get a sequel, or the Boba Fett and Kenobi movies that I think might have been equally amazing.
I really enjoyed Solo. It may not be perfect and it certainly isn’t the best Star Wars movie in the franchise, but it was a lot of fun. It made me smile and gasp like a little kid. The practical effects and costumes were beautiful. The action and chase scenes were awesome. You can tell this was made with love and care for the fans. The movie ends with a bit of a set up for a sequel that I feel like we’re never going to get. Solo survived The Snappening the same way the character himself always survives. Bullshitting you with effortless charm even while so many things were going wrong in the background. If you didn’t have an interest in the movie before, I say give it a chance. Worst case, you still have Empire.
Movie watched and review written by: Troy Smith