Ever since Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise, we’ve had a new film every year since 2015, whether they continue the Skywalker Saga or tell stories of lesser known characters from the Star Wars universe. Solo: A Star Wars Story certainly isn’t about one of those lesser known characters, Han Solo being one of the most iconic characters ever however, it has never seemed as anything more than filler to me. Whether it be behind-the-scenes unrest or a weak marketing campaign, the build-up to this just hasn’t made it feel like a Star Wars film at all.
Long before he joined the Rebellion, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) saw the dark criminal underworld as a playground. A journey of love and adventure brings him across his future copilot Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and the Millennium Falcon and it’s a journey that will change his life forever.
Let’s talk about the major doubt cast over Solo long before it was even released; Alden Ehrenreich. Many, including myself, didn’t think he would pull it off and it wouldn’t be anything more than a glorified Han Solo impersonation. I love being proved wrong and in this case, Ehrenreich should silence all of the doubters because he is very good in the titular role. He has the cocky swagger and bags of charm however, it’s the naivety he shows that makes this worthwhile, he’s a con man sure but he’s rough around the edges and not quite the full package we first saw in Star Wars.
Han’s partner in crime, Chewbacca, is an extremely welcome presence throughout. I mean, who doesn’t love Chewbacca? The way they’re introduced to one another is great and things really do blossom from there, the forging of their friendship being one of the highlights of the film. Donald Glover’s portrayal of Lando Calrissian is hotly anticipated and, while he is good in the role, there is nowhere near enough of him in the film and of a standard to make me say I’d watch a series of films about Lando. Emilia Clarke is just about ok in this but she starts to look out of her depth when up against better actors, and it really shows. Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton and Paul Bettany make up the rest of the cast but unfortunately they’ll be forgotten as characters in no time at all, particularly Bettany’s villain. Oh, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as L3-37, Lando’s droid copilot, is one of the better yet more irritating things about Solo.
As for the story here, it never really felt as if Solo took off as a Star Wars film for me. Sure, there are many references (THAT cameo causing much confusion amongst my audience) but there wasn’t enough of a wow factor at any point to make me sit back in awe. There are a couple of decent action sequences where the visual effects are expectedly great however, rather like some of the characters mentioned before, I feel they’ll be easily forgotten when looking back through the Star Wars films. Ron Howard has done a solid job in directing Solo but I’ll always have the thought of what a Lord & Miller Star Wars film could have been like.
Music has and always will be a key part of any Star Wars film and it’s safe to say John Powell delivers on this front, the inclusion of one of my very favourite pieces of music from The Empire Strikes Back in a sequence where they have to make a quick escape in the Millennium Falcon filling me with sheer joy. There’s a distinctive sense of grit to Bradford Young’s cinematography throughout, things getting a little too dark in places, but it suitably reflects the criminal underworld the film takes place in. I just pray for anyone who watches this film in 3D when things get really dark.
So there we have it, Solo: A Star Wars Story isn’t a disaster nor is it a masterpiece of cinema. It is fun in parts but it tends to drag a little also, particularly at the beginning. We have now seen Han Solo make the infamous Kessel Run when I would have preferred to keep that side of things stuff of legend. As much as I love seeing Star Wars films so frequently in the cinema, I just hope they move on to explore stories and characters that can breathe even more life into the franchise.