I’ll admit, I was never too hot on the idea of Solo: A Star Wars Story. After being severely underwhelmed by the incredibly dull Star Wars spinoff Rogue One and scared by the fact it seems we’re going to be getting one Star Wars film per year, it was a film I had always been sceptical about. There were glimmers of hopes with Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and, namely, filmmaker’s Phil Lord & Christopher Miller being attached to the project. However, when Lord and Miller were fired from the project after having filmed the majority of the film and were replaced by Ron Howard (an admittedly safer choice), who would reshoot most of the film, I assumed that the film would just be another bland, reference driven product like Rogue One. However, after having seen the film with somewhat low expectations, I am glad to report that Solo: A Star Wars Story is a surprisingly decent entry into the Star Wars mythos, even if it isn’t anything fantastic.
As the film’s title suggests, this Star Wars spin-off centres around a young Han Solo’s (Hail Caesar’s Alden Ehrenreich) coming-of-Heroism. After being separated from his companion Qi-Ra (Emilia Clarke), Solo finds himself banding together with a group of criminals led by Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and Val (Thandie Newton) while forming a friendship with a Wookie named Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and bumping into infamous smuggler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and the droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge).
The film shines with it’s amazing cast, I don’t think there’s been a Star Wars film with such consistently good performances. Alden Ehrenreich brings a youthful and wide-eyed edge to the iconic character made famous by Harrison Ford. But it’s Donald Glover’s rendition of Lando and Phoebe Waller Bridge’s brilliant motion capture performance as Lando’s droid companion L3-37 who both steal the show with their natural charisma and chemistry, leading to many naturally hilarious moments.
The film has a kinetic zippy flair, bolstered by Ron Howard confident direction, leading to some truly dynamic and exciting action set pieces. The film’s 135-minute runtime mostly goes by fast despite having its fair share of pacing issues in its first and third act.
It’s also refreshingly contained compared to entries in the Star Wars series and not eager to throw as many references to previous films as there were in Rogue One, though there are some groan-worthy references and attempts to create a larger Star Wars mythos.
However, the main issue with the film is despite its likability, it plays it safe. It doesn’t really add much to the Star Wars franchise, which to be fair is probably what many fans want since The Last Jedi proved to be an incredibly controversial film by fundamentally shaking up what everybody knew about Star Wars.
In the end Solo: A Star Wars Story is a good action film but not much else. It’s decidedly safe without which manages to not insult its audience’s intelligence with a barrage of references like Rogue One did. It manages to constantly be charismatic and exciting, which considering the barrage of production issues the film had, is a feat in itself.