I love space movies and sci fi – I absolutely love Star Wars, and I’m a sucker for the franchise. I got Star Wars Lego for Christmas (Yoda’s ship, one day I’ll have the Millennium Falcon…). But I must admit I sighed when I heard they were making Solo: A Star Wars Movie. I was disappointed, because there was another film? Did we really need another one? Nevertheless, there was never a question of whether I would be going to watch it. Of course I was. So I went with work. I’ve tried to avoid spoilers, and this is just my opinion.
Directed by Ron Howard. Written by Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan.
The story ran that a young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) steals on the streets of Corellia for a crime gang. He then steals from the crime boss, to make an escape with his girlfriend Qi’Ra (Emilia Clarke). They get as far as immigration before Qi’Ra gets dragged back and Han joins the Imperial Navy to become a pilot. He gets kicked out for “having a mind of his own” end ends up in the Infantry, where he gets recruited by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) for an intergalactic mission backed by gangster Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). He teams up with his future Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), Qi’Ra (Emilia Clarke) and suave smuggler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), owner of the Millenium Falcon.
Han isn’t very good at following orders, and he has a romantic perception of Qi’Ra, who ended up the Lieutenant to crime boss Dryden. When their missions keep going south, Han has to learn when to follow orders, and when to pull a con within a con.
Han Solo in this prequel was a pale imitation of the smuggler we know and love in the original trilogy – and I don’t just mean he couldn’t live up to Harrison Ford, because I think Ehrenreich could have, he just didn’t quite have the mannerisms down. He looked like a kid trying to copy a character or their parents – like it didn’t fit. And he kept trying to smirk and it made his face look weird. I actually cared very little for the adaptation of Han Solo, but it is easy to see how he went from being the trusting soldier to the “I don’t need no-one cept Chewie and me” we have in A New Hope. And he is wilfully oblivious to the fact that Qi’Ra has changed since he loved her on Corellia – despite her trying to tell him to back off for his own good many times. He just didn’t listen, he kept assuming he knew what was best and I wanted her to just pull out some of her awesome martial arts and just plant him on his back, and say very sternly, “will you just listen?”. Alas, she didn’t do that to him.
Qi’Ra was very pretty (I mean, ofc, it’s Emilia Clarke), very smart and very aware of what she needed to get ahead in the world she lived in. She’s a survivor and she was the pretty foil to his hero. I’m not sure there is much more to say on her. Their “romance” felt like it was all a bit… caught up in the past. And it was, thinking about it.
Paul Bettany as Dryden was excellent, but he is fabulous at doing the slightly unnerving psychotic leader, who you can’t decide if they’re going to hug you or slice your neck where you stand. Woody Harrelson as smuggler captain Beckett was really good, because it was hard to tell if he approved of Han (like a father figure) or if he wanted to push him out of the nearest airlock. He was constantly on edge and maybe it was just because it was Harrelson playing, but he reminded me a lot of Haymitch at the start of the Hunger Games – when he doesn’t want to get too attached to the Tributes but he can see Katniss might just survive this mess.
Now onto the characters I thought were excellent. L3 is the droid, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge and she is the best damn thing that happened to that film! L3 is Lando’s first mate, and she is extremely passionate about droid rights. The first time you meet her, is in the Cantina where Han plays Lando for the Millennium Falcon for the mission. She is having a go at someone about making droids fight, imploring them to come with her and be free. She is quick with the comebacks, and she swaggers. She doesn’t walk like a droid, there is not much in the way of anthropomorphic femininities (beyond the fact she doesn’t walk like Threepio) and she just looks like a droid. Her relationship with Lando is brilliant! And Glover as Lando was just spot on. He made out that L3 was incredibly irritating, but really, I felt he wouldn’t know what to do if she wasn’t making quips about him being her flesh overlord, or demanding equal rights. L3 and Lando made the film for me.
The Overall Opinion
We went years without a Star Wars Movie, and now we have one every year through the combination of sequels and prequels. The Force Awakens was really quite exciting, and Rouge One was fairly exciting too, but it lessened the anticipation for The Last Jedi (I still haven’t decided if I like that one or not). And now, with Solo, I was just… ambivalent towards it. I liked the mystery of how Han Solo came to be Han Solo, and for any curiosity about his past, I was happy to default to the EU. And I think they tried too hard. For me, it just wasn’t Han Solo on the screen, it was just some kid running around with a wookie. I think the franchise needs to take a break now, give us a few years to get excited for another movie, don’t just keep churning out mediocrity. But then, I know why they do it – Star Wars is a franchise that people are never going to get tired of, and we keep paying to see these films. I just wish the storytelling and Han were a bit more on point. I loved all the other characters, L3 and Lando Calrissian were my favourites. So, to summarise, Solo wasn’t much of a let down because I wasn’t expecting much, but I must admit that it was just mild entertainment.