+ Recommended – PG-13, Action, Adventure, Fantasy
The first thing I can say about this movie is that you will leave with far more questions than answers to long-pondered questions. Riley and I spent most of the drive home trying to figure out plot lines and timelines. While Solo: A Star Wars Story is focused on the galaxy’s favorite roguish smuggler, all of our most interesting questions are opening doors that have nothing to do with Han Solo. So what does that mean for our rating of the film?
Well, for one thing, Solo: A Star Wars Story guarantees a solid summer blockbuster/adventure that is going to be fun for the whole family. Whether or not you find much to like within the film, it has undeniable charm; this mainly comes from the cast chemistry that director Ron Howard was able to draw from each actor. The relationship to lookout for is the one between Han and Chewie, as the Solo cast and crew were able to capture their connection that was already established in the original trilogy with ease.
Solo: A Star Wars Story follows a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) during his smuggler years where he meets a few friends, including Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian, Chewbacca, and Woody Harrelson’s Beckett. Of course, the story centers around Han before the events of the original trilogy, meaning Han isn’t a part of the rebellion; paving the way for some story points that were pulled from the novels. Visually, Solo welcomes the gritty, under-saturated filter that fans received in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The stylized visuals that are tailored for the anthology films clearly separate them from the main saga and establish independence.
Was Ehrenreich’s performance sufficient enough for fans to accept him as the smuggler everyone loves? I believe so. Without doing a straight impersonation, Ehrenreich delivers on some mannerisms and speech patterns that sound vaguely familiar to Harrison Ford’s Han Solo. On the contrary, Donald Glover seems to want to impersonate Billy Dee Williams a smudge more than Ehrenreich did Ford. The character of Beckett provides a moral center for Han and Woody Harrelson can portray that ragtag, leader/mentor character well (a la Hunger Games). Emilia Clarke plays the love interest for Han, and did a fine job doing so; however, I expected more depth and range for her character and instead, she’s pretty bland.
How was the score, you ask? From any other recent Star Wars movie, the score stood out more in Solo: A Star Wars Story thanks to John Powell, who has scored other films such as Jason Bourne, Rio, Shrek, and How to Train Your Dragon. Overall, the action is solid but never tense; partly because you know the outcome for some of these characters. And compared to Rogue One, I feel as if the stakes and overall impact were lessened. Solo is simply a fun Star Wars adventure and nothing more. The lore wasn’t deepened in any way, and the film has very few twists and surprises. If anything, Solo successfully manages to set-up for other spin-off Star Wars projects while failing to provide any real excuse for it’s existence. But you should still see it.