A funny thing happened last as I slid into my seat for an early screening of Solo: A Star Wars Story. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I had a bad feeling about this but for the first time in my life I felt a sense of trepidation for a Star Wars movie. You can hardly blame me for that. With the rumors of a very troubled production to the sizable community backlash against Disney for the current Stars Wars productions, this movie has a metaphorical asteroid field of challenges ahead of it. On top of that, the story focuses on my favorite character in the entire Star Wars mythos. How could I not be a little concerned about the movie? However, Han Solo doesn’t care about probability and would rather you didn’t tell him the odds. Like its namesake, Solo plows ahead because turning back is not an option.
A Fast & Furious Story
Back in January I found it odd that we still had not seen any trailers for Solo even though the movie was scheduled to debut in May. A few weeks later we got that trailer and after watching it I only had one thought on my mind; this was a Fast & Furious movie. That is not intended to be an insult – I happen to be a fan of the Fast & Furious franchise. I just find that to be an odd tone for a series described as a space opera. Now that I have actually seen Solo, my point stands. This is very much a Fast & Furious movie with sci-fi trappings; instead of high performance automobiles, a heist and crime lords you get speeders, space ships, a heist and crime lords.
From One Side Of This Galaxy To The other
As a prequel film, Solo seems to be ticking off items from a checklist of Han’s early life. His first encounters with Chewbacca and Lando – check. His first time on the Millenium Falcon – check. His beginnings as a smuggler – check. In this regard Solo suffers from the same problem as the Anakin Skywalker prequel trilogy; we already know the outcome and finally seeing how all of these elements came together is potentially less satisfying than what fans had imagined for themselves decades ago.
Don’t get me wrong; I actually did enjoy Solo. It’s just that this is the quietest of all the theatrical Star Wars films released so far. It lacks the epic battle of Rogue One or the vast scale of the original trilogy. The movie does have some beautifully shot action sequences and I will even admit that Alden Ehrenreich has moments when he nails that Han Solo swagger. Donald Glover is less successful as Lando. He’s a fine actor and he has nice chemistry with Ehrenreich but Glover doesn’t quite fit into the Lando role as easily as Billy Dee Williams did. Let’s face it, Williams made that suave attitude appear effortless and despite his talents, Glover isn’t quite there yet. Joonas Suotamo is a treat to watch in the role of Chewbacca. He deserves credit for his performance – while other actors have the benefit of dialogue and facial expressions to convey emotions, Suotamo must rely purely on body language to express his character and he does a very fine job at it. If I had to find weak points in the cast, it would be Woody Harrelson and Emilia Clarke. Harrelson already played the grizzled mentor in The Hunger Games franchise and in my opinion Haymitch was a stronger character than Beckett. His reason for existence merely seems to be for pulling Han to wherever the story needs him to be and not much else. Clarke is similarly wasted as a love interest we already know will not be a part of Han’s life given his future with a certain Princess.
All in all, I find Solo to be a middle of the road Star Wars movie. It’s not the worst of the series but it is far from the greatest films of the saga. Unfortunately, “middle of the road” is a term that should not normally be associated with a Star Wars movie.
However, one twenty-year old point of contention among fans of Han Solo has been solved to my satisfaction. There is that, at least.