Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Jonas Suotamo, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover, Paul Bettany
Solo: A Star Wars Story is directed by Ron Howard who also directed one of my favorite films of all time “A Beautiful Mind (2001)”. It is the latest installment from Disney Studios and the second film of the Star Wars anthology films, the first one being 2016’s Rogue One. It is set before the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977).
The film follows the story of a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) who aspires to be the best pilot in the galaxy; it explores the origins of the character and his trusted sidekick Chewbacca (Jonas Suotamo). In order to repay a debt he owes to a criminal, he joins up with a group of smugglers to recover a valuable material known as Coaxium from the planet Kessel. In need of a ship that is fast enough to reach the mining planet, he seeks help from Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) who provides his spaceship – The Millennium Falcon, which is capable of making the journey.
We are introduced to Han Solo in Episode 4 as a scoundrel and the hotshot pilot of the Millennium Falcon. That’s it! Surprisingly, audiences grew to love the character although he had zero character development. Which begs the question, was this film necessary?
Prior to its release, the film faced a lot of production troubles such as director changes, reshoots and a trailer that received negative responses. Thus going into this, my expectations were reduced considering the troubles the film had.
I believe functional is the best word that I can use to describe this. Yes, there are some well-directed action sequences; in fact, one that comes to mind is how they escape Kessel after recovering the Coaxium. Although the story is generic, the last 40 minutes of the film throws in a few surprises I did not expect. In addition, Alden Ehrenreich’s portrayal as Han Solo is solid. That said, Solo: A Star War Story fails to deliver in key areas.
My biggest gripe with this film is that it fails to emotionally engage the audience and there is simply not enough in it to justify its existence. Sure, it highlights various aspects about the character like how he won the Millennium Falcon, how he got the name ‘Han Solo’ and how he met his best friend Chewie but this is based upon a story that is less than exciting.
There never seems to be a sense of urgency or high stakes, maybe because we know that at the end of whatever ordeal they face Han and Chewie will live to see another day or because everything that happens on-screen is predictable. In addition, although the film has A-list stars such as Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Woody Harrelson (True Detective), their roles in this are not memorable. An exception can be made for Donald Glover as Lando; he is the stand-out performer of the entire cast.
In summary, this film fails to meet the highs of the original saga or the new trilogy of Star Wars films, which means it lies closer to the realm of Prequel Star Wars in terms of quality. The film is watchable; however, it fails to create a compelling story that pays homage to a beloved character.