Have you ever wondered what Han was doing with his life before he met Luke Skywalker? How about the real story on how he won the Millennium Falcon? Or how about, “How old is Chewbacca?” Well, these questions and more will be answered in this 2 hour and 23 minute movie! It’s just a shame they didn’t use the time to add an engaging plot.
Solo: A Star Wars Story starts out with a young Han and his desperate desire to become a pilot and escape his home world with the girl he loves. When they are separated at the gates of freedom, he vows he will do all he can to accomplish his goal and come back to rescue her. It sounds like the makings of one of those great stories that will undoubtably tug at the heart strings. I went in wanting to feel invested and engaged, except, after the first 20 minutes, the main objective changed and I was left asking, “So… what am I suppose to be rooting for, again?”
As the story progresses and alliances shift, I started to think, “OK, we are going to get a deeper look into character development as Alden Ehrenreich plays Han!” …eh, not really. I felt like Alden did well enough with the character. It’s a really hard thing to embody the looks, charm, and nuances of the original character played by the iconic, Harrison Ford. I tried not to ask “How well did he play Harrison Ford?” but instead “Did I get anything new out of this character?” Unfortunately, I can’t say that I did. In fact, it felt more muddled than before.
In Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Han Solo is just as his name suggests; only out for himself. He just needs money and only at the very end do you see him become more altruistic and capable of working in a team setting. In this film, the dialogue tells me that he is “alone” but his actions aren’t quite as defined. Most of the time he is shown as trying to form and have a team but if that doesn’t work out, “Oh, well.” The “character arch” is much more of a “character line.”
Emilia Clarke as the beautiful Qi’ra did keep some of my attention but her arch was also hard to nail down. This can be used in your favor as a storyteller but instead it just made it hard to decide if I liked her or not. Because I didn’t know if I liked her, it was hard to feel the impact of her decisions. Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian seems a bit of a cosplay casting choice. He looks good and can play the part but, if it went on any longer, it would have been on the borderline of becoming a caricature of the original character.
As with most Star Wars films, I enjoyed the droids. L3-37 voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge added enough comic relief to counter the drama and I also found the character, Rio Durant, voiced by Jon Favreau to be very likable and memorable.
With other characters like Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany, they both played their parts well as Beckett and Dryden Vos, respectively. I’m probably one of the only people who will think this but, as good as they did, I didn’t like the use of these big name actors. Yes, they are great actors. They are in big films for that reason. However, I found myself remembering and then comparing the other big blockbusters those actors played in, verses just the story at hand.
I can’t help but compare my feelings for Solo: A Star Wars Story to those of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In my mind, Rogue One has the upper hand. It had a clear and concise goal, extremely high stakes, and few characters from the original trilogy in the forefront to distract you from the story at hand. As a viewer, I didn’t feel like the driving action in Solo was clear enough. Because the main objective wasn’t clear you never really felt that there were high stakes. It felt very much like 2 hours and 23 minutes of a supporting character’s filler storyline when it should have felt like a stand alone film.
The story is not terrible but it also isn’t great. I give it a solid “Meh.” and 2.5 out of 5 stars.