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Solo: A Star Wars Story Review

"Solo: A Star Wars Story proves to be better than expected, but still a little forgettable."
Solo: A Star Wars Story is the newest addition to the ever-growing Star Wars franchise, directed by Ron Howard and starring Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover, and Paul Bettany. Young Han (Ehrenreich) and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Clarke) are in the process of escaping a slave planet, and circumstances change when Han leaves and Qi’ra is accidentally left behind. Han enlists with the growing Empire's military as a means to make money to buy a ship and go back for his lost love. While serving with the army, he encounters Beckett (Harrelson) and Val (Thandie Newton) who are using the army as a cover for a heist their planning, and Han immediately wants in to secure a quicker payday. Through this association, Han meets Chewbacca (Joonas Suatomo), and gains a ship from Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover).  The group of misfits embark on a journey while fending off threats from villain Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). Solo was a victim of highly publicized production problems. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (directors of The Lego Movie) were infamously fired well into production due to Disney not being happy with the slapstick tone of the film, and Ron Howard was brought in to redirect. The result is a clean, safe Star Wars story filled with beats of A New Hope. Entertaining, yes. Risk-taking, no. Alden Ehrenreich is fine as Han Solo. Part of the publicized production problems allegedly included an acting coach being brought in for him and Emilia Clarke, so I expected the worst. I was pleasantly surprised that he wasn’t bad, he gave a fine performance. While he clearly has Harrison’s Ford stance and cadence down, but the hugest element missing from this film is Han’s famous unpleasant demeanor. In the prior films, Han is cantankerous and constantly annoyed, where this incarnation is smiley and constantly hopeful. Maybe it was planned in production that his sourness would come later, but it did hurt the character here. The strongest performances come from Harrelson and Glover, especially Harrelson, whose screen presence and timing gives life to a new character that would be lost in a sea of nostalgia.  Also, Ehrenreich hardly has any scenes without either of them. The story is a simple one, but it takes a little too long to tell at points. There is an action scene where the team attempts their first heist, and but when consequences of their poorly planned actions start to happen, the scene drags. The following scene, where the millennium falcon is being chased, also goes on a little long and loses some of the tension in the process. Solo is a flawed yet entertaining film. It does offer some tidbits such as how Han Solo got his name, how he met Chewy, how he became a thief, but nothing new was shown that really provided any depth to how Han Solo became the cocky, irritated anti-hero that he is. Han was a hero, but he never intended to be, ever. That’s what made him interesting. And it would have been interesting to see more of that.
  • Good lead performances from Ehrenreich, Harrelson, and Glover
  • Nostalgia from original trilogy fun to watch
  • Action Scenes lack tension
  • Too long
  • Very similar in story to a New Hope


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