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SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY gets 7/10 Who’s scruffy looking?

Directed by Ron Howard
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke

7/10

Since we were first introduced to a galaxy far, far away in 1977, the Star Wars franchise has become a big part of our culture. This epic space opera has been the launching platform for numerous films, TV series, novels, and comics, telling the tale of almost every aspect of this compelling universe. Solo: A Star Wars Story marks the second live action standalone film of the franchise (after Rogue One – we’re not counting the Ewok movies), and the first to explore some of the background of an original trilogy character. The question is, can it measure up to the man that made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs?

Living as a street urchin on Corellia, Han (Alden Ehrenreich) has always dreamed of flying among the stars. When he gets an opportunity to escape he reluctantly takes it, even though it means leaving behind his childhood sweetheart (Emilia Clarke). However five years later, and things have not turned out as he expected, when a chance encounter with a crew of scoundrels, lead by Beckett (Woody Harrelson) provides another opportunity for Han. One that will see him encounter Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), Lando Calrisian (Donald Glover), and the Millennium Falcon, as he takes his first steps into a larger world.

Better as a heist movie than a bio-pic for a fictional character, Solo: A Star Wars Story takes its time before making the jump to hyperspace. However, like the scruffy looking nerf-herder himself, Solo, does have its moments. Those extended action sequences are wondrously staged, and plunge you into the adventure of the Star Wars universe, touching on the pulp serials that were part of Lucus’ original inspiration. At those times Solo feels like a direct successor to the saga, and more like a part of the extended universe (EU), a little entertaining something extra for fans rather than something vital to the franchise. In fact, for the dedicated fans this film does a lot to touch on previous EU lore that was jettisoned by Lucasfilm, providing many Easter eggs scattered throughout.

Although at times, and especially when it is covering those known EU events in Han’s life, Solo’s pacing flags. It seems like many of those moments are grudgingly provided out of some sense of obligation, rather than integral to the plot. At two and a quarter hours you can certainly feel the drag of those moments, and a sleeker design would certainly have served the film and style better.

Ehrenreich (Hail Caesar) always had his work cut out for him claiming the iconic character which Harrison Ford first brought to the screen. He certainly does a good job, but for older fans, it is still going to take a bit of time to accept him in the part. Donald Glover (Community), by contrast, smoothly dons the role of Lando, wearing it like a cape, and stealing the show. A similar sentiment can be shared for Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca, but some credit must be given to physicality and the Wookie costume, and the fact that he’s been filling those large shoes since The Last Jedi. Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) however, doesn’t have the acting nuance to project the levels of light and shade required for the conflicted Qi’ra, and comes across as wooden.

Based on its own merits Solo: A Star Wars Story is a decent action romp that does what it says on the package, but it was never meant to be judged in isolation, but rather to how it slots into the Star Wars universe as a whole. Here it harkens back to that spirit of the early days of the original trilogy, cashing in on that nostalgia as it makes us love these characters once more, and opens up the world for further exploration. That alone might make it worthy of remembering.

DAVID O’CONNELL

 

 

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