Cast - 71%
Story - 65%
Music Score - 70%
Effects/Quality - 79%
Originality - 60%
‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ has finally arrived, and oh boy, what a journey it’s been to get here. With noted production trouble during principle photography, leading to the removal of original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller and replacing them shortly thereafter with veteran director Ron Howard, as well as the reported reshooting of the vast majority of the film and the troubles of casting Alden Ehrenreich in the leading role; this film has had an uphill journey to its release. While the previous anthology film ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ had at least mildly piqued my interest, ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ on the other hand had not and was probably my least anticipated film of the whole saga yet. With all this working against the movie, as well as battling the onset of sinus problems and distracting nearby movie goers at the screening; this movie more than delivered relative to the low expectations going in.
We follow the journey of a young Han Solo from the streets of Corellia to his first meetings with Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian, to the infamous Kessel Run, acquiring the Millennium Falcon and an adventure that will form the foundation of the lovable scoundrel we all remember from the original Star Wars.
The story started off slow, beginning to ease into things and find its stride prior to the second act and despite some noticeable lag in the pace during the latter half of the film, overall manages to maintain that stride until the end. The fact that this movie comes together as well as it does is in no small part due to the direction of Ron Howard, who turns in a film better and more charming than it has any right to be, as well as delivering on time, given the production history. His contribution to this movie and the character his friend George Lucas created can’t be stated enough.
This is an entertaining film with a couple of solid action set-pieces. Chewbacca is truly one of the standout characters in the film and the chemistry on-screen between Han and Chewie is one of the shining aspects. There are also several cameos, call-backs and references to characters and moments in prior Star Wars movies and the current (as well as previous, now titled ‘Legends’) expanded Star Wars universe that will excite many to varying degrees depending on one’s investment in the greater Star Wars mythology, giving some previously unknown entities and characters a moment on the big screen. There was one cameo in particular that immediately grabbed and was able to hold my interest for the duration of the movie and has me excited to see if aspects of this will be followed up on in future novels or comics of the expanded universe in the future.
These positives aside, it doesn’t take away from the reality that this seems like a mostly inconsequential movie (although future expanded universe offerings cold bolster its overall importance and legacy in the canon) that by and large does what you’d expect it to do with few surprises and some that you can see coming as the story unfolds. The droid of the piece, L3-37, while likely intended to come across as K2-SO from “Rogue One” unfortunately wears out its welcome very quickly is one most obnoxiously annoying characters in the movie and possibly even the entire saga. While the issues of droid rights in the thin grey area they occupy in the world of Star Wars between property and sentient being may be interesting with the right character and approach (likely though a novel, short story or comic), this film offers neither and merely beats the audience over the head with point ad nauseam as long as the character is on screen in an effort to appeal to the politics of today instead of serving the story at large. Another group of characters are show up a couple of times in the story and by the time their role becomes clear, it hardly seems interesting at all in the context of the story (more viewings or further appearances and clarification in the expanded universe could change that perception).
Despite countless previous reports to the contrary, Alden Ehrenreich is by no means a bad Han Solo, nor does he drag down this movie in any significant way, if at all. While I feel they could have employed a similar trick to create a younger Harrison Ford’s likeness, like the one used to recreate Grand Moff Tarkin and Leia in “Rogue One” (costly as it may be for the majority of a full motion picture, although the same actor being synonymous with their role has been an enduring trait of the Star Wars franchise from the beginning), there’s no denying that Ehrenreich is good in the role and has flashes of a young Han Solo at times that make you forget after a while that the character is no being played by Harrison Ford. Similarly, Donald Glover turns in one of the better performances as Lando and heavily channels Billy Dee William’s in his performance and ads a little something extra of his own. Paul Bettany unsurprisingly turns in a great performance as crime lord Dryden Vos, arguably the best performance of the film, which is even more commendable given that he joined production late during reshoots of the film. Sadly he is not in the movie all that much which all that much which is truly a shame. Emila Clark is serviceable as the female lead and Woody Harrelson is dependable as ever.
‘Sole: A Star Wars Story’ is not egregiously bad but also not phenomenally good either, merely riding the line somewhere in middle with enough action to please the audience, jokes that hit and miss and doesn’t much new to cinematic Star Wars experience and only a few elements that might add extra value to the period in the expanded universe but not much that adds to the story of Han Solo beyond what we’ve known already. Will result in a fun trip to the cinema but won’t leave much to make you want to again and likely only big Star Wars fans will be waiting for the home video/digital releases.
Reviewed on: Cinema 2D
Available on: Cinema 2D, Cinema 3D, 4DX, IMAX 3D, 3DPrestige, D Box 3D
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Age Rating: 10 – 12 PG V
Estimated RRP: R50 – R175
Release Date: 25 May 2017
- Most of the main cast
- Han and Chewie dynamic
- Action sequences
- Doesn’t add much of note that we didn’t already know from the original and current trilogies about Han Solo