'Solo: A Star Wars Story' Review (2018)
A Fun Space Adventure, But Lacks The Heart of the Franchise
When Disney bought Lucasfilm, people were worried that Disney was going to turn Star Wars into a simple cash grab. The movies would simply be made so that Disney could turn Star Wars into a huge profit. However, Disney has provided some great entertainment that has taken the franchise and steered it into a new direction. For example, Rogue One seemed very unnecessary however it provided it was a fun movie that felt like it belonged in the Star Wars universe. Solo: A Star Wars Story, unfortunately, is the first film that feels like a cash grab. However, I still had a lot of fun with this movie.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is all about a young Han Solo and his adventures before he met Leia and Luke Skywalker. After Han Solo is kicked out of the imperial army, he joins forces with a group of bandits who have to pull off a dangerous job for the leader of an infamous crime syndicate. Faced with many enemies, the group must succeed in order to save their own skins.
This plot does sound simple and, unfortunately, it is. Not a whole lot happens in this movie. It is a basic action movie that takes place in the Star Wars universe with younger versions of familiar characters and new characters. It does expand on the Star Wars universe a little bit, but doesn't do enough to justify its own existence.
The performances in this movie are all solid. Alden Ehrenreich had large shoes to fill as Han Solo and for the most part, he filled them well. He had a lot of the charm and sarcastic wit that people loved about Harrison Ford's portrayal of Han Solo. There were a couple of times when I felt like he was a bit out of character, but I think mostly he did a great job at making the character his own without fully impersonating Ford's portrayal.
Joonas Suotamo plays Chewbacca and he does a great job. The dynamic between Solo and Chewbacca is probably the best part of the movie. That really feels authentic to the original trilogy. They have a strong relationship, but can still get on each others nerves.
Woody Harrelson plays the leader of the bandit group and he is really good but it did seem like his character was just Harrelson in a Star Wars movie. I never could really separate his character from Harrelson's personality. Luckily, Harrelson is always entertaining so I enjoyed his performance. Emilia Clarke is also really good. Her character is one who the audience is not sure can be trusted and she does a good job at selling it. Her and Ehrenreich had really good chemistry.
I think the performance that impressed me the most was Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. He sounds and behaves exactly like Billy Dee Williams in the original trilogy. It was really impeccable how he copied all of his mannerisms without doing a full impression. However, he doesn't play as big of a role as I thought he would and I was somewhat disappointed by that. I never really got the sense of friendship between him and Han that is set up in The Empire Strikes Back.
There are some other supporting characters who are also entertaining, but aren't in the whole lot. Paul Bettany plays the villain and he is pretty menacing but he is only in the movie for maybe 2 or 3 scenes. Thandie Newton and Jon Favreau play other members and they are a lot of fun, but don't have much of a role to play. Lastly, there is a new droid named L3 who is voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge is entertaining, but is a bit forgettable. She has a lot more attitude than previous droids, and sometimes this works while other times it makes her character seem a bit annoying.
The action in this movie is a lot of fun. The special effects add a lot to the visual aspect of the film and make the action scenes more impressive. Director Ron Howard does a good job at keeping them fast and energetic without using a lot of shaky cam. I especially liked that there are a lot of practical effects instead of just CGI. The costumes are very cool, the sets are dynamic, and the stunts look pretty cool.
Normally, I do not pick up on lighting & color unless there is something unique about it. The lighting and use of color are unique, but in a bad way. This is definitely the blandest looking Star Wars movie. Even though the film has a lot of cool visual effects, the colors are very dull and sometimes the film is very dark or dim. There were certain times where I could barely see what was happening because it was so dark. There are a lot of times where the film is just one color, especially yellow and it just looks odd.
Ron Howard does a pretty good job directing this movie. He had to step in late during production because the original directors were fired. This film faced a lot of issues behind the scenes, but it didn't seem to hurt the final product too much. This film is paced pretty well. I was never bored, but I was never fully invested either. Like I said earlier, the film is just very bland for a Star Wars movie. There isn't a lot that makes this movie all that special, but it is still pretty fun. Howard just never captures the heart that makes Star wars so special.
I was also not a fan of the way that the film handled the way that Han solo got certain things that are present when we meet him in the original trilogy. The film either glosses over it or it just didn't need to be explained where a certain thing comes from. The film also doesn't take its time to allow its characters to process certain emotions. There are certain events that occur where the characters should experience a big, emotional moment, but the film rushes past it like its no big deal.
While Solo: A Star Wars Story is a lot of fun, it never captures the sense of awe and excitement that the other Star Wars movies contain. It is a basic action movie that takes place within the Star Wars universe. If that sounds like fun to you, than you will probably have a lot of fun with this. If you are expecting a new revolutionary film within Star Wars, than you may be disappointed. It is nowhere close to being the worst movie in the Star Wars franchise, but it is probably the worst one that Disney has made so far, which isn't that bad considering the other ones have been so good. Did this movie need to be made? No, but I still enjoyed it a whole lot.