“Solo: A Star Wars Story,” dir. Ron Howard
Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes.
Disney and LucasFilm started an experiment telling stories within the “Star Wars” universe outside of the main episodes with the release of “Rogue One” a couple of years ago, a solid attempt at expanding the universe that unfortunately fell a little short due to lackluster character development and a rocky first half. “Solo” is their second film under the label of “A Star Wars Story” and famously had an extremely bumpy production with the firing of directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller after the majority of filming was already complete. Now the film’s finally here after Ron Howard stepped in to finish the film and reshoot most of what was already done and the end result is exactly what you’d expect after hearing about the problems on set. It’s an absolute disaster.
The biggest question mark going into the movie was if Alden Ehrenreich could pull off playing a young version of Han Solo. Anyone who saw the work he had done in the past including “Hail, Caesar!” would know right away that this guy is the real deal, but there was a massive fear that he would either try too hard to impersonate Harrison Ford or play the role in a way that makes it unrecognizable as Han Solo. In the film itself, Ehrenreich does the best he can to deliver a decent leading man performance, but never once feels right in the role. That isn’t necessarily his fault as a performer, though. Nobody gets off easy with this script.
With a cast of actors including Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson and several others, all that talent goes completely wasted on poor character development and lazy writing. Glover in particular as Lando rarely ever gets an opportunity to shine which is especially disappointing considering he seems to be having the most fun out of anybody. Just because the actors work well off of each other doesn’t mean that the relationships between the characters feel fully fleshed out.
The structure of “Solo” is unbearably clunky from beginning to end. It’s unsure if this is a result of the director shift, but the pacing between scenes fluctuate so much that there’s no organic flow to the story. Scenes that are supposed to develop characters or bring emotional weight go far too quickly while the actual adventure is a complete slog. The action scenes themselves have no energy to them with sloppy editing, ruined even more by some of the worst color grading in a blockbuster film in a long time. Many of these sequences are so damaged by the muddy color grading that it’s near impossible to follow what’s going on at times. None of the “Star Wars” magic is present whatsoever.
One of the more egregious additions to the film is a new droid named L3-37 voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. “The Force Awakens” introduced the delightful BB-8 while “Rogue One” brought in the hilarious K2-SO. This time, however, the droid is the most painfully annoying character to be introduced in “Star Wars” since Jar Jar Binks in “The Phantom Menace.” Every single joke with this character falls flat on it’s face, her relationship with Lando is poorly executed and the character simply takes away what could have been valuable screentime to better develop the other characters.
The biggest problem of all with “Solo” is that it offers nothing new to the “Star Wars” universe. Just like the prequels, this movie answers all the questions that never needed to be answered. How did Han get his name? How did Han meet Chewie? How did Han meet Lando? How did Han get the Millennium Falcon? How did Han get his DL-44? These are the kinds of questions that are better served for a novel, not a $250 million blockbuster. Not only is it completely pointless, but the answers themselves range from underwhelming to infuriating. The “Star Wars” universe is so vast and expansive that it’s disappointing to no end that LucasFilm keeps going back and telling the stories that don’t need to be told instead of trying to further expand the lore. The one single time that there’s a genuine surprise in the movie, it comes far too late and ends up being one of the worst things in it.
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” follows all the story beats that you’d expect with no satisfying payoff, wastes the incredibly talented cast, and never has the thrills or fun that should come with a “Star Wars” movie. Lawrence Kasdan and Jonathan Kasdan fought hard to keep this script in tact and the film is made worse for it. I long to see what Lord and Miller were trying to do with this. It’s impossible to imagine that it could have been worse. It’s the worst film in the “Star Wars” universe since “Attack of the Clones.”
Have you seen “Solo: A Star Wars Story?” What did you think about it? What would you like to see in the future for “Star Wars?” Leave a comment down below with your thoughts.
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