'Solo: A Star Wars Story' Review: A Satisfying Entry Inside The Star Wars Universe
Solo: A Star Wars Story is Lucasfilm's second attempt at making a Star Wars Story. Films that aren't a part of the original trilogy although they take place during the same time period.
Han Solo, the famous smuggler from the galaxy of Star Wars get his own film. A wild adventure that chronicles his time on the gloomy planet of Corellia, to meeting his friend Chewbacca, and encountering criminal syndicate Crimson Dawn.
Aspiring pilot Han Solo and his lover Qi'ra are hoping to escape the criminal gangs on the gloomy, ship building planet of Corellia. Han and Qi'ra end up separated. Han vows that he will come back to her. Three years have passed. Han has been kicked out of the Imperial Flight Academy. A gang of criminals lead by Tobias Beckett are posing as Imperial soldiers. Han is eager to join the group. Han is punished for trying to escape and must face a "beast." Which ended up being the Wookie Chewbacca. Han and Chewie become quick buddies and they end up joining the ragtag group.
From the beginning of Solo you knew you were entering something familiar yet it explored the unknown origins of a beloved and cherished character. From Han's smirky encounter with Lady Proxima to his smooth negotiations with Crimson Dawn. During Solo, you felt the true reach of the Empire. Through the propaganda holograms that appeared on various planets to walking stormtroopers at various points. A cute moment during the early part of the film was Han signing up for the Imperial Flight Academy, and the Imperial worker asks him what his last name is. Han replies that he doesn't have a family. The worker improvises and gleefully names him Han Solo. Due to the fact he is a loner. The unnamed Imperial worker might've realized that this hotshot, wanna-be pilot was going to become a big deal in the galaxy someday.
Ron Howard did a splendid job with Solo. Considering the amount of controversy surrounding the film. From the exit of directing duo Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, Solo was being haunted. Howard came in and pieced it all together. He is one excellent puzzle solver. Although he had to reshoot a good portion of the film, it turned out to be a wise decision. Even though we will never get to see the Lord/Miller cut of Solo. The director stated that their fingerprints were all over the film. I agree with that statement you could definitely see some humor nods. Howard delivered some absolutely beautiful and stunning shots. Bradford Young, provided some incredible cinematography. With editing done by Pietro Scalia.
Once again Lucasfilm took a risk, and it paid off. Casting was a big part of it obviously. Alden Ehrenreich, another subject of Solo controversy, knocked it out of the ball park as the titular character. Some will be critical of his performance and if it is to the standard of Harrison Ford, I believe Ehrenreich is a charming and charismatic heir to the iconic role. I am so happy and relieved he signed a three picture deal. Woody Harrelson plays Tobias Beckett, who is a mentor to Han Solo. Harrelson was perfect to play this rough mentor who had a very small soft spot. Emilia Clarke was riveting as Qi'ra. One of Star Wars most deep and complex heroine. Clarke was a scene stealer from the get go. She grew up with Han, and they were pals but things changed. Even though there is still something there we just don't know what yet. Donald Glover shined as Lando Calrissian. Establishing Lando and Han as good frenemies. While continuing to explore the exotic origin of Lando. Thandie Newton and Phoebe Waller-Bridge were thrilling in their respected roles of Val Beckett and the sassy droid L3. Val was short lived but seemed like a interesting character. Along with Jon Favreau's Rio who was gone too soon. L3 wanted equal rights for droids and was a companion to Lando. She has a lot of similarities to Rogue One's K-2SO. Paul Bettany replaced Michael K. Williams as Dryden Vos. Bettany portrayed the ruthless crime lord, and I can't believe Bettany wasn't the first choice. Bettany brought a certain sarcasm and spunk to this role. I would love to see some footage of Michael K. Williams as Dryden Vos. We could then do a All the Money in the World comparison a la Kevin Spacey verse Christopher Plummer.
One of my favorite scenes is after Han escapes the Crimson Dawn headquarters after Qi'ra killed her superior Dryden Vos. Qi'ra and Han still don't know if they are mean to be yet. Qi'ra sticks around and talks to a hologram of none other than Darth Maul. The audience gasped at the sight of the presumably dead villain. (Well not so fast Star Wars actually has kept Darth Maul alive. Thanks to Star Wars: Rebels.) I personally was expecting the Emperor but it turns out to be Darth Maul. A very nice twist. Qi'ra informs Darth Maul that the mission failed and that she has taken Vos' place. Maul summons her to Dathomir, and he activates his lightsaber. During this scene your heart breaks for Han even though you know he will get his princess in the future. His pal that he grew up with was corrupted by evil or is their good still left inside of her? The Qi'ra/Maul scene also sets up a potential Solo: Episode II. Although the writers would have to keep Han far away from that hokey magic known as the force.
Han Solo doing the Kessel Run was enthralling. We got to witness many epic scenes with the Millennium Falcon. On top of some very intricate action scenes provided a backdrop to something we haven't seen before. Another semi emotional scene was when Han chased down Beckett who was taking Chewbacca and the coaxium. Han Solo ends up blasting his mentor. Beckett knew Solo had to do it but it's a tragic way to go out. Han and Chewie deliver the coaxium to the Cloud Riders, who are a group who aides the rebellion against the Empire. The leader Enfys Nest offers Solo and Chewie a spot within the group. Han declines but Nest eerily foreshadows that Han will feel more sympathetic to the rebels cause one day. On top of calling him one of the "good guys."
The ending is fantastic with Han defeating Lando in a game of sabacc for the Millennium Falcon. Han and Chewie plan on going to Tatooine where Beckett told them a gangster was forming a crew. That gangster they were referring to was Jabba the Hutt. They jump into hyperspace. Cue the classic score and the alluring lettering saying "Directed by Ron Howard."
Solo: A Star Wars Story is a solid entry into the Star Wars universe. It serves as a soft reboot with new actors taking up the mantle of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. The torches that were passed from Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams are in good hands. Lucasfilm is going to want to continue to explore their stories.
The script comes from Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan Kasdan. Although this script is no Force Awakens or Empire from the older Kasdan it still deserves its spot amongst Star Wars lore. Fans of the beloved smuggler will be happy to see his story continue to evolve.
The fantastic score comes from John Powell along with John Williams. Ron Howard masterfully brings together a galaxy, and the story of a young Han Solo with gripping visuals and action sequences. Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover provide marvelous moments of dialogue throughout Solo. Those two have great chemistry, and it will be fun to see what is next.
Solo is by no means franchise altering but it is enjoyable fan fare and provides some background on the stories around the galaxy. The film was a daring experiment similar to its predecessor in Rogue One. Considering the expectations heading into this film. Fans should feel elated once they see the story of the daring hotshot pilot we've come to love. Solo is a satisfying and a respectable entry in the franchise. Using nostalgia while embracing some very new faces, and concepts. Leaving fans waiting for what's next with the prequels of the franchise.
Some fans aren't thrilled with Solo. Some question why the film even exists. Other fans are craving new characters, new origins, and new planets. My answer to them is that the new will be coming soon enough. Star Wars already has vast characters, planets, and stories that they can continue to tell. Rian Johnson is creating a whole new trilogy that will be different. Games of Thrones masterminds David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have been set to write and produce a brand new series of movies. It's fine if Lucasfilm wants to explore some of their already established characters and time periods because the new is coming.