Movie Review : Solo - A Star Wars Story (2018)
If there’s any lesson to learn from Star Wars’ difficult 2018, it’s that any relationship can become abusive if you let it. Even your relationship to your favorite pop culture franchise. The Last Jedi was a critical fiasco that highlighted director Rian Johnson’s tone deaf ambitions, Disney’s unwillingness to compromise and fans’ quasi-religious devotion to the original trilogy’s simplistic tenets. Only the best movie in the franchise could possibly follow up such a problematic release and Han Solo’s origin story Solo : A Star Wars Story is not that movie. It’s interesting, oddly entertaining… but not for the right reasons.
So, Han (Alden Ehrenrich) and Qi’ra (the magnetic Emilia Clarke) are lovers and petty criminals living on planet Corellia. Running away to a spaceport after a tumultuous job, they are separated by an asshole Empire TSA agent who is seemingly getting off on being needlessly evil. Obsessed with coming back on Corellia to reunite with his girlfriend, Han signs up to become a stormtrooper and therefore a pilot. Three years go by, Han deserted and joined an outlaw crew along with his new wookie friend Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), still fostering dream of finding Qi’ra. Except he randomly runs into her on the biggest, most dangerous job of his young career.
A Jedi-less Star Wars movie should’ve been a riot and Solo: A Star Wars Story is exactly that… in a bizarre, superficial way? This movie simply doesn’t know how to stop: shootouts, car chases, spaceship chases, grandiose heists, more shootouts, explosions, it’s one breathless action scene after another. It doesn’t even stop to introduce its characters, tell a compelling story or explore underlying themes. Ron Howard and his screenwriters Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan figured you already know who Han Solo is, how things usually go in blockbuster movies and that you’ll already feel attached to its characters before the movie even starts.
“Hey Ron, why should I care about Emilia Clarke’s character?”
“Because she’s Han’s girlfriend, you dipshit. What are you, a monster?”
The production of Solo: A Star Wars Story was allegedly plagued by many issues ranging from multiple director changes to Alden Ehrenreich needing acting classes to deliver a decent performances. I believe that’s why they don’t let Ehrenreich talk more than two minutes unless there’s blaster fire and explosions all-around. Can’t notice an actor sucks if there are other things to pay attention around him. In that sense, Ron Howard did a good job at concealing his movie’s main weakness, although it greatly handicapped its overall dramatic impact. A rushed production is probably why Solo: A Star Wars Story looks to grey and gloomy, too. It’s like the movie wasn’t properly colorized upon release.
But I exaggerated when I said the movie never stops. It does have a handful of character scenes that revolve around Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian. The movie is oddly interested in his expansive sexuality, which lead to a bizarre and uneasy promotion campaign, last Spring. Lando is being called pansexual by the screenwriters because he’s in love with his activist droid, which is only one of the marvelous quirks of his character. His obsession with looking good, which ranges from having impeccable clothes to never losing face in public, juxtaposed to the intensity of his feelings towards his droid (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) make him come off as lonely and insular, making it difficult not to like him.
Solo : A Star Wars Story is not exactly deep. It’s mostly a series of well-crafted action scene set to a boilerplate screenplay of the good guys helping the oppressed, something the Star Wars franchise has given us plenty of over the years. It could’ve never existed and the Star Wars universe would’ve been exactly the same, which I suppose is by design. But that’s why everything surrounding the movie is more interesting than the actual movie, though. What it lacks in underlying themes, it makes up in folklore and Solo : A Star Wars Story makes it difficult to believe that anything that was said about it isn’t true. It couldn’t possibly repair the schism caused by The Last Jedi, because it didn’t even live up to its own promise.