After being plagued by numerous issues behind the scenes, the backstory of our favorite scruffy space scoundrel is finally here on the big screen.
A young(er) Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) is scraping by on the streets of Corellia but he’s got big plans to see the galaxy as a pilot of his own ship. No surprises yet? Check.
An origin story through and through, Solo has as much in common with the current crop of comic book movies as it has with Star Wars. It checks all the predictable boxes – meet Chewbacca, check. Give him a nickname, check. Meet Lando, check. Fly the Millenium Falcon, check. Nods to and foreshadowing of things to come ooze fan-service, though for the most part the film does restrain itself from going into full on reference mode.
I’m not quite sure why this movie should exist. Han was an intriguing and beloved character from the moment he pulled the trigger that fried Greedo. He doesn’t need this – do we? I would have preferred the same story but with some other roguish hero we could all fall for instead of plugging in already established heroes whose fates were written in celluloid long ago. Did we really need to find out exactly what the Kessel Run is and what the deal with 12 parsecs was?
I’m not knocking Ehrenreich, who creates an enjoyable persona here, but I just never buy him as Han. There’s an occasional glimmer, but it’s just not the same. Donald Glover, on the other hand, had me sold as Lando from his first line. It will continue to be said to death, but he’s the most memorable out of anyone in this cast.
The story is solid, even good, but it almost could have been any generic space opera with old west and high seas themes thrown on top. It’s pretty good, but lacks the magic of the franchise while offering a few off-putting moments along the way. There are certain times where it seems too self-aware for its own good (leave that to Ryan Reynolds), and there is an underlying thread of feminism that often feels forced and unwieldy.
There’s an underdeveloped sub-plot involving a female droid’s campaign for equal rights that to me just falls flat and comes off as embarrassing and trite – almost a parody rather than serving as any sort of relevant social commentary. Other moments seem contrived and predictable. Star Wars has a pretty good track record of showcasing strong female characters, but something about how it’s handled here just doesn’t seem to work.
The tone of the film is a balancing act of a slightly goofy retro feel that mimics the original trilogy, and a grimy realism that might have been a better direction to take this one. We get a taste of Han’s time with the Imperial Army and I think I would have been more happy to have explored nothing but that time in his life. Unfortunately it’s only amounts to not much more than a footnote.
The movie looks great and keeps you guessing a surprising amount despite existing as a prequel. There are fantastic action set pieces and some cool character designs. But it just doesn’t earn its right to exist, in my opinion. Unless…Well, to talk about the unless, we’ll have to talk about the ending. And I’m not going to do that here, because I don’t want to give anything away. But seriously holycrapwtf with that ending. People’s heads are going to explode, but I’m not sure yet if it will be in a good way or not. If this movie launches the sort of story that it promises, then maybe it does have a reason to exist.
Mrs. Hamster did not screen this film
Brother Hamster did not screen this film
My rating: Three out of five hats
Solo: A Star Wars Story Blasts into theaters, including Imax 3D, nationwide May 25