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Solo: A Star Wars Story (film review)

posted May 27, 2018, 11:05 AM by Vu Nguyen
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Star Wars
Beginning with a new interview with Joker’s voice actor Mark Hammill (Star Wars) and ending with a music feature, featuring composers Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, and Lolita Ritmanis. ....

“It`s a losing proposition but one you can`t refuse, It`s the politics of contraband, It`s the smuggler's blues” – Smuggler’s Blues (Glenn Frey)

Solo: A Star Wars Story is the latest effort in Disney’s master plan to schedule a new Star Wars film in theatres every year, with character-focused back story tales, supplementing the opposite-year’s main storyline. 

Set prior to the events of 1977’s Episode IV (A New Hope), a younger Han Solo (you find out a little history about his name along the way) finds adventure when he joins a team of galactic smugglers, including a 190+-year-old Wookie named Chewbacca. Indebted to the gangster Dryden Vos, the crew devises a plan to travel to the mining planet Kessel to steal a batch of valuable coaxium. In need of a ship that can make the journey, Solo meets Lando Calrissian (smartly played by Daniel Glover) the suave owner of the perfect vessel for the dangerous mission -- the Millennium Falcon.

The film stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han, alongside Glover, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge (the voice of Lando’s co-pilot droid) , Joonas Suotamo (as Chewie), and Paul Bettany (as the villainous Vos).

After originally being helmed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Lego Movie, Jump Street franchise), the studios removed the duo, in favor of director Ron Howard, with a screenplay by series veteran Lawrence Kasdan and his son, Jonathan. 

The end result is a mostly enjoyable, though seemingly over-safe chapter in the mythos,- one that never completely disappoints, but one that never completely thrills either.  Howard is adept in delivering the action and pacing, but is not visually unique in his execution, though a few sign posts pop up along the way (Ron’s brother Clint in a cameo role, as well as Warwick [Willow] Davis) to remind you it is under his direction. 

Ehrenreich takes some getting used to in the lead role, he not as gruff as Harrison Ford, but still displays a lot of the characteristics that define the iconic character.  Glover, however, fits immediately into the Lando role like a…err, glove, perfectly channeling the bravado, swagger, and eminent cool that Billy Dee Williams originally brought to the role. 

Harrelson seems to be enjoying himself as Solo’s mentor and fellow bandit Tobias Beckett and Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke plays Qi’ra, -part damsel in distress, part survivor who even works in a little GOT-style sword play in, towards the end of the movie. 

The problem (not an issue in Rogue One) is convincing the audience to embrace some of these new faces as the characters they know, and provide a story that leans somewhat on the past chapters but also stands on its own merits. 

More diehard fans of the series will revel in the backstory of how Solo made his fabled Kessel Run in record time, the deeper meaning behind the trinket given to Leia in The Last Jedi, and how Solo and Chewie meet for the first time, but it’s a given that all make it out of the adventure unscathed, as we know where their futures will take them. 

The female roles in particular, seem a little underused, as Clarke’s characters motivations are never clearly defined, Waller-Bridge’s L3-37 is mostly there for comic relief, and Newton’s Val doesn’t get enough overall screen time. 

Fans of the series will still have a fun time, and casual moviegoers will happily go along for the ride as well, though it seems like it could have been something much more.

With the studio turmoil surrounding the film, it’s maybe a surprise it turned out as well as it did, though you can probably walk (instead of run)  to see it on the big screen, or casual fans can easily wait until home video. 

Solo: A Star Wars Story opens in theatres Friday.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (WHM rating – 7 out of 10 hearts)

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