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Solo: A Star Wars Story – film review

May 25, 2018

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY

It could have been worse.

Reviewed on Thursday 24th May 2018


Directed by Ron Howard. Written by Jonathan Kasdan & Lawrence Kasdan. Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover and Emilia Clarke. Running time: 135 mins.

Han Solo is a young punk chasing his dream of becoming a space pilot. With the help of his newfound Wookie sidekick Chewbacca, the pair become involved in a daring heist. A heist which leads to the infamous Kessel Run – mentioned as an aside in     the original Star Wars.

PLEASE NOTE – THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE

Following the historical (not to mention hysterical) fanboy drubbing and backlash afforded The Last Jedi, (sure, on a re-watch – it has its issues) – it would seem there was a lot riding on this – Disney’s latest entry in its expanding Star Wars franchise (also the sophomore effort in a proposed sidebar series of stand-alone films in the wake of the asinine and redundant Rogue One). For such a troubled production (the film was completely re-shot following the eleventh hour firing of its original directors), Solo is something of a surprise. The film no-one wanted or even asked for – is actually pretty good – enjoyable even.

Han Solo is arguably the best-loved character from the original trilogy, three writers being instrumental in his creation (Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz – uncredited in providing the first movie’s best lines; particularly the banter between Han and Leia in A New Hope and Lawrence Kasdan continuing this banter in Empire and to a lesser extent in Return of the Jedi). So with Kasdan again on board to pen this directly connecting backstory, the character is very much the one we remember from the original trilogy.

Alden Ehrenreich plays the titular character with a certain roguish charm befitting Han Solo – without self-consciously aping Harrison Ford’s idiosyncrasies. He’s actually pretty good. Donald Glover is also a believable fit for a young Lando Calrissian (although Lando’s retconned ‘pansexuality’ shoehorns a character flourish which is completely uncalled for in a Star Wars movie). Rounding out the main cast – Woody Harrelson and Emilia Clarke are fine, while Joonas Suotamo’s performance as Chewbacca seems to be a little off here – particularly in the way he carries himself     in his initial scenes.

Ron Howard has always been a solid journeyman director, a filmmaker who has     never really possessed any discernible signature style of his own. And it is this ‘disappearing into the material’ aspect of a journeyman director which originally steered George Lucas’ selection of Irvin Kershner and Richard Marquand to helm     the two initial Star Wars sequels over auteurs like Paul Verhoeven and David Lynch, both of whom were seriously considered as potential helmers for Return of the JediSoldier of Orange and The Elephant Man respectively being the reason why they were under consideration (it was only upon Lucas seeing their other films Spetters and Eraserhead that he ultimately – and probably quite wisely – nixed that idea). Whilst I applaud the studio’s decision to hire visionary directors to helm these stand-alone films, clearly what is needed here – as far as revisiting characters already established in the Skywalker saga – are journeyman directors like Howard to help maintain tonal continuity with what has come before.

Fast-paced and fun and tonally in step with the original trilogy and not nearly as morose or ludicrously retconned as Rogue One, Solo is a film nobody wanted – but     it could have been worse – so much worse.

3.5 stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4 – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Viewed at the Wallis Piccadilly Cinemas, Adelaide, May 24th 2018

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

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2 Comments
  1. Great to have you back with another review Greg, hope you are well.

    I won’t be seeing this until it comes out on disc, which might not be such a bad thing. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised at that point, away from the hype etc of the cinema release. Its underwhelming box office is a little surprising though. It reminds me of the public apathy towards BR2049 last year- its a little disconcerting when something we love and hold dear is revealed to have little interest for the masses. Perhaps Star Wars (the original trilogy characters etc) are really not important to the new generation who would prefer to see BB-8 over R2D2. No accounting for taste.

    Perhaps prequels are really not a good idea. At least with BR2049 we didn’t get a film showing a young Tyrell trying to build his first Nexus 2.

    • gregory moss permalink

      Cheers, Ian. Yep – all is well. Been busy this year knocking out a couple of new scripts – hence my decrease in blog posts lately. Also – there hasn’t been much out there worth writing about really. Still waiting for Annihilation to be released on blu-ray – which I will definitely be reviewing when it comes out. I know what you mean – hanging off until the dust settles before checking out Solo. I felt the same when ET came out back in the day – kinda’ put off by all the media hype around it at the time. I held off seeing it till the last week of its run – and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m still wondering though if my generally positive response to Solo was due to massively low expectations. And yeah, prequels are never a good idea really – they’re kinda’ pointless and can potentially taint the experience of seeing the originals for newer viewers – as with what Ridley did with the Alien prequels. Oh god – don’t get me started back on that. 🙂

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