There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) are a young couple with big ambitions. They live a life of poverty on their home planet of Corellia, but they hope to buy a ship, escape Corellia, and settle down on a planet far outside the reaches of the Empire. When their escape plan backfires, Han and Qi’ra are split up, but he vows to become the best pilot in the galaxy, get a ship, and return to her so that they can start their life together.
Han’s new plan proves to be easier said than done. He finally becomes a great pilot, but he has no ship. That is when he meets an outlaw named Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and a Wookiee named Chewbacca (Joonas Suatomo). Together the group plans on doing a job for a dangerous galactic criminal named Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). If they succeed, Vos will pay them a small fortune, but failure will result in a large bounty on their heads that could cost them their lives.
The Pros & Cons
|The Pros||The Cons|
Alden Ehrenreich (+4pts)
The Action (+4pts)
The Plot (-5pts)
Pro: Alden Ehrenreich (+4pts)
No matter who was chosen for this role, there were incredibly big shoes to fill. It is not that Harrison Ford brought a lot to this role dramatically, but Han Solo is one of the most iconic characters in cinematic history and audiences will always associate the role with Harrison Ford. Stepping into this role would be a tough thing for any actor. The new actor could not be too similar to Harrison Ford or audiences would complain, saying that it felt like the actor was doing nothing more than an impression. However, the actor also could not be too different from Harrison Ford or audiences would not accept them as being a proper fit for this iconic role. Alden Ehrenreich did a good job of balancing these two issues.
Alden Ehrenreich was never doing an impression of Harrison Ford, be he acted similarly enough that audiences will be able to accept him as Han Solo. Was he the only actor who could have pulled this off? No, but that does not make this a small feat. The biggest challenge with this role was to get audiences to accept the new actor as Han Solo. I cannot speak for everyone, obviously, but I thought Alden Ehrenreich did about as good a job as anyone could have done in his position.
Con: Qi’ra (-5pts)
To start, let me just say that Emilia Clarke did a fine job in this movie. She did everything the character needed of her, but unfortunately, this character’s story arc was severely predictable. I will not go into detail to avoid spoilers, but when we met this character after the split up, we knew that she was somehow associated with Dryden Vos—although we did not know how or to what extent. For the rest of the movie, audiences were expected to be guessing as to what her intentions were.
Unfortunately, audiences will know pretty quickly to whom her allegiances belonged. It was so predictable that the character became boring, despite the attempted plot twist at the end. Emilia Clarke did a fine job dramatically, and she had good chemistry with Alden Ehrenreich, but by knowing where the filmmakers were going with her character, Qi’ra ended up being one of the more generic parts of this movie.
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Pro: Nostalgia (+8pts)
Nostalgia was this movie’s biggest strength and the filmmakers knew it. We saw a lot of iconic firsts in the movie and all were a joy to finally see on-screen. I felt like the filmmakers sacrificed the plot in order to deliver a heavy dose of nostalgia, but that did not mean that the nostalgia was not fun to see. Donald Glover did a great job personifying Lando Calrissian, and it was cool to finally see the events that led to Han getting his hands on the keys to the Millenium Falcon. The most satisfying dose of nostalgia, however, was the meeting between Han Solo and Chewbacca.
Han and Chewy are one of the most iconic duos in cinematic history. Fans of the Star Wars saga have gotten hints at how these two met and became friends, but up until now, the actual events were mostly left ambiguous. This movie had a tough responsibility because by taking on the origin story of Han Solo, the filmmakers had to show the formation of this iconic friendship in a way that did not disappoint fans. Fortunately, I thought the filmmakers were able to pull this off in an entertaining way.
Con: Beckett (-3pts)
I always like seeing Woody Harrelson pop up in movies. He has the screen presence and the talent that makes him captivating to watch. However, much like Emilia Clarke and Qi’ra, I though Beckett was a one-dimensional character that ended up being little more than a plot device for this story. This movie was able to cram the introduction of Lando, Chewbacca, and the Millenium Falcon into the story, but the filmmakers did not have room to explain much more of Han Solo’s character. Beckett was their solution, as he was used as a plot device to explain every other iconic trait of Han Solo.
Beckett was an outlaw with trust issues, he was a bit of a gunslinger, and he was always looking for a way to make some money to pay off the crime lord to whom he owes money. Does any of that sound familiar? He was basically Han Solo before Han Solo was Han Solo. Beckett was just a one-dimensional character that felt forced into the story to explain all of Han’s characteristics. Rather than focus on telling a good story, the filmmakers were too concerned with checking items off of a figurative Han Solo checklist. I liked Woody Harrelson's presence in the movie, but his character was surrounded by lazy writing.
Pro: The Action (+4pts)
While the plot suffered in order to deliver a ton of nostalgia, the Star Wars action that we have grown to love was definitely in here. This was a Star Wars movie and there was a ton of Star Wars action to enjoy. There was a train heist, a speeder chase, a Millenium Falcon space battle against a few T.I.E. Fighters, and a big scale shootout on Kessel. None of these were memorable enough to be ranked against the best Star Wars action sequences, but all will keep audiences entertained. Star Wars has always been about delivering fun and intense sci-fi action throughout their movies, and this movie was no different.
Con: The Plot (-5pts)
Like I have already mentioned, the filmmakers focused heavily on delivering as much nostalgia as possible. This was all satisfying to see, but I thought the plot suffered. As a result of poor development, Dryden Vos ended up being a pretty generic and forgettable antagonist. The plot surrounding this character—which was the main plot—got very little focus. Rather than develop a good story, it seemed that the filmmakers had all the nostalgic scenes planned, then they just created this generic plot and a generic villain as a means of connecting the nostalgic scenes. In any story, the plot and characters need to come first and foremost. In this movie, both seemed to take a back seat to the nostalgia.
Grade: C+ (78pts)
Solo: A Star Wars Story was not a movie that fans wanted and it received pretty mixed reviews. Many hated this movie, and many loved it, but this was not a movie that anyone was asking for. Instead of telling a new story with new characters, Lucasfilm once again decided it was necessary to go back and tell stories that we were already at least semi-familiar with. This movie had a ton of nostalgia and it all worked well, but the filmmakers sacrificed the plot in order to deliver it.
Do not get me wrong, it was fun to see Han meeting Chewbacca, the beginning of their friendship, and Han getting his hands on the Millenium Falcon. The action in this movie was also pretty entertaining, but none of this was not enough to justify making a new movie and recasting an iconic character, because there was not a decent plot to go along with it. The nostalgia worked, but most of the rest of the movie felt like lazy writing, meant to pump out another movie as fast as possible. Let us hope that this movie was a lesson to Disney that this cash cow will start returning less and less money, if they do not spend the necessary time and energy on deliver good stories.
Best of the "Star Wars" Franchise
Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker
Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace