REVIEW: Solo: A Star Wars Story
I saw Solo: A Star Wars Story last night and, wow, did I love it! I honestly was on the fence about this movie. On one hand, it was a Star Wars film featuring one of my favorite characters and I was going to watch it opening night no matter what, but, on the other hand, I didn't know if it was really necessary to do a Han Solo movie. Well, boy, was I wrong. Maybe it was that my expectations were low, but I had so much fun watching this!
But, before I get into it, I will be bringing up SPOILERS, so, if you haven't seen it yet, come back after you have watched it. I always believe people should not try to look for SPOILERS before seeing a movie, even if you think you know what this movie is about.
So, once again, before I start - THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IN...
Okay, you have been warned.
I really found this movie to be so fun and it had me grinning from ear to ear.
Since I was eight years old, I knew the story about the Millennium Falcon making the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. It was the stuff of legends and, while I had no idea how long a parsec was, it sounded fast. And, this film made you feel those 12 parsecs very well. I felt that the film was at warp speed from the beginning and had me on the edge of my seat during most of it. I actually had to go to the bathroom badly toward the middle of the film, but was so engrossed that I couldn't get up.
Before watching the film, my first concern was the casting of Alden Erenreich. There were so many rumors about his performance and, based on the trailers, I started to wonder myself because I just couldn't see him as Han Solo. But, those concerns were immediately put to rest within the first few minutes of the film. Erenreich captures the spirit of Han Solo without imitating Harrison Ford. And, that's a good thing. It would have been too distracting if he did. He captures all the smug scoundrel charm of Han Solo and that's all that matters.
Donald Glover was a natural as Lando Calrissian. I don't even know if I need to say more. He had every bit the charm of Billy Dee Williams.
My favorite character, though, had to have been Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson). Talk about a true scoundrel. He's exactly the kind of person you would imagine an outlaw to be. And, you could see how Han was drawn to him. Harrelson has that kind of screen personality that can disarm you enough to feel for him right as he comes in for the kill. His constant side switching at the end came as a surprise to me even though he telegraphed it during the film. I thought just an overall great character. I just wish Tandie Newton's Val had survived. I thought her character was really interesting and would have added a nice balance to the film.
If I'm to be honest, I would have preferred to have her be part of the team more than Emilia Clarke's Qi'ra. And, it pains me to say that because I love Emilia Clarke. But, she strangely felt out of place in the movie at times. At least until the end where her character ultimately becomes more interesting and you want to know what is to become of her. Maybe it was her modern look? Where were the crazy women's hairstyles Star Wars is known for?
But, speaking of women on the team, I loved L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Lando's co-pilot. I thought she was hilarious and loved the fact that she was a total badass droid activist. Finally, a female droid in the live action spotlight!
One could argue that the film was very measured in hitting its beats. From the dice on the dashboard to Han's winning the Millennium Falcon, there was a lot of fan service in this film. And it came fast and furious. But, in a film about something as legendary as this one, I really didn't mind. These things just made me smile.
I loved how Han Solo met Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo). I don't know if I ever knew the story. If they told it, it was in a book that I hadn't read. I was actually surprised when the beast on the planet Mimban was revealed to be Chewbacca. And, I loved that Han know how to speak Wookie. Their relationship felt organic to me.
The funniest nod to the fans addressed the fact that Lando Calrissian always pronounced Han Solo's name differently from everybody else. While the rest of the world pronounces Han as "Hahn," Lando pronounces Han like it rhymes with "can." It was always a bizarre thing that you always thought might have just been Billy Dee Williams's performance. So, it was fun when they acknowledged it and worked it into the story. I think only the biggest Star Wars nerds in the audience (hand raised) laughed at the exchange in the movie where Han tries to correct Lando.
The biggest surprise of the film, of course, came in the form of Darth Maul speaking to Qi'ra at the end of the film. Several friends texted me after I got out of the film asking how this happened! This is why I keep telling people they have to watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. This is a reminder that these shows are cannon. Had they done this, it would have been more cool than bewildering. For those who have watched the show, it was like a love letter...a pay off for watching them.
I really only had a couple criticisms about the movie. The biggest thing is that I would have loved to have seen some more color. It felt like everything was dark. Whether they were in the underbelly of Corellia, the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, the cantina where Han meets Lando or in the mines of Kessel, everything just seemed like dark against dark. I would have loved to have seen the characters pop a little more.
Also, where are the recognizable aliens we've known from the original and prequel trilogies? Where are the Twi'leks and the Ithorians and the Duros? Although, I did see a Rodian and a Chadra-Fan for a couple of seconds. I would have loved to have seen more.
But, those criticisms are not enough to diminish my enjoyment of this film. And, honestly, I could see them launching Solo as a franchise. At some point, however, they better address the Qi'ra/Darth Maul relationship. I definitely want to see it again.