Solo: A Star Wars Story

Review: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ – When hairy met sullied

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Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story is being billed as a “space-western,” as it should be (as all of the Star Wars films stem from the original space-western, A Princess of Mars – don’t get me started), so as such the filmmakers would have been well served to adhere to the old axiom from the classic western film, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

To be sure, if you are a Star Wars fan and a Han Solo fan, nothing could ever match the legendary backstory we’ve envisioned for the loveable Corellian outlaw; and the lackluster Solo film only serves to sully the grand and swashbuckling origin that exists in our collective imagination.

Who is not excited to see how Han became Han, and how Han hooked up with everyone’s favorite fuzzball, Chewbacca, and how they came to meet Lando Calrissian and acquire the Millennium Falcon? Every fan wants to see this film — but certainly not this film.

Solo: A Star Wars StoryFather and son screenwriters Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan have fashioned an uninspired story that should have been the craziest, most action-packed and adventurous movie in the entire Star Wars franchise; instead, we have boring chase sequences and melodramatic droid-love.

To be fair, we can’t lay all the blame on the Kasdans. The original directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie) had severe creative differences with the writers before Ron Howard was brought in to try to salvage the film. The result is quite a mess in that, even though it’s a mostly cohesive story, it is often dull and sometimes even cringe-inducing.

Without giving too much away, this is an example of the movie’s feebleness: In both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, the Millennium Falcon has fist-pumping moments that gave you goosebumps and made you cheer out loud; and one would think that in Solo, where we go back in time and get introduced to the Falcon for the first time, that they would have the crowd-pleasing Millennium Falcon moment of all Millennium Falcon moments… Well, as out hero might say, “Don’t get excited.

On a positive note, it’s not all a downer. The first meeting of Han and Chewie is a lot of fun and their relationship is satisfyingly the best part of the film. Additionally, Alden Ehrenreich as Han and Donald Glover as Lando are inspired casting choices. Woody Harrelson also does a good job as Han’s mentor, a new character called Beckett.

On the other hand, Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones’ Daenerys Targaryen) as Han’s love-interest, Qi’ra, has no chemistry at all with our hero. Han’s love for her drives the story, but I never felt it for a second; and Paul Bettany (Avengers: Infinity War) as the main villain, Dryden Vos, has the “dry” part down pat.

There are parts in this film that will leave you scratching your head — some because they are absurdly lame, some because they don’t make any sense, and some because they fail to deliver on what could have been cinematic greatness. It will be interesting to see where the discussion goes in the fan community that takes this stuff dead serious.

This film could never meet expectations, but you’d think they would have tried a little bit harder. There’s some fun stuff happening here and you know you’ve got to see it, but, disappointingly, this just isn’t the Han we were looking for.

Grade: 5.5/10

Photos Copyright © 2018 Lucasfilm Ltd.

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Bob Leeper
Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.