Movie Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story (NON SPOILER)
Forty-one years after the release of the original Star Wars, a second standalone adventure in the franchise has finally landed in theaters with the release of Solo: A Star Wars Story. The film was officially directed by Ron Howard and written by Lawrence Kasdan and his son, Jonathan Kasdan. The story is set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope with it tracing the adventures of a younger Han Solo and everyone’s favorite Wookie, Chewbacca. Alden Ehrenreich stars as a young Han with Joonas Suotamo portraying Chewbacca. The cast is also comprised of Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Thandie Newton, and Paul Bettany.
The film begins with an introduction to the time period where crime syndicates and lawlessness punctuate the galaxy in light of the Galactic Empire’s reign. The planet of Corellia has been especially effected by the crime syndicates and is home to one of the Imperial shipyards. Han has grown up on the streets of Corellia, fending for himself by any means possible. He and the woman he loves, Qi’Ra, dream of escaping the reach of the local gangs and traveling across the galaxy in their own ship. Han steals a speeder and forms a plan for their escape, but of course, it all goes awry once they reach the spaceport. With these new developments, Han agrees to join the Empire so that he can one day return to Corellia and make things right. However, Han’s life takes an unexpected turn when he meets Tobias Beckett, Val, Rio Durant, and eventually Chewbacca.
I have to start by saying that Solo: A Star Wars Story is honestly unlike any other Star Wars movie that has come before it. It is not about saving the galaxy. It is not about the Force, the Jedi, the Sith, or any of the otherworldly themes we have become accustomed to in this franchise. This is just one man’s story of how he became a smuggler, and it lays the groundwork for the man who will eventually become a hero of the Rebel Alliance. It is a more light-hearted tale, and it truly leans into the relationships that form Han into the scoundrel we meet on Tatooine in A New Hope. It especially emphasizes his and Chewbacca’s close friendship and how it develops, and some of the movie’s best moments result from that relationship.
With that said, I truly enjoyed this movie. I loved the tone of the film and the fact that we now have a criminal/heist story in the Star Wars universe. I thought the cinematography was unique and quite beautiful, and I think that John Powell’s score brought a different yet familiar feel to this space adventure. The script was well-written, and it is no surprise that Lawrence and Jon Kasdan completely capture the heart and nature of this good-hearted scoundrel. They also provided a few delightful twists in an otherwise fairly predictable story, which I appreciated.
I think the most surprising thing about the film, though, is how much I absolutely loved these characters and the performances that were given. I was quite skeptical of Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo in the beginning, but I honestly believe he knocked it out of the park. He perfectly captured the rogue charm, rebellious attitude, and snide remarks that define this character. Also, Donald Glover as Lando was essentially perfect, and I felt like I was literally watching a younger version of Billy Dee Williams on the screen. I thought that Emilia Clarke did a good job pulling off the mysterious nature of Qi’Ra, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s portrayal of L3-37 convinced me that I need an entirely separate movie to cover just her and Lando’s countless adventures. However, Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca almost steals the show; I obviously do not understand what he’s saying in the movie, yet Suotamo is able to convey every emotion and thought in that fur covered suit.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is not without its faults. The set-up in the first act is slow, some of the ancillary characters fell short for me, and there are a fair amount of predictable moments in the film. However, I enjoyed the film so much that I can easily forgive its shortcomings. There are quite a few great action sequences, and I genuinely loved seeing Han’s interactions with everyone in the cast. I was admittedly one of the naysayers in the beginning that did not think we needed a Han Solo film; however, I am happy to say that my mind has been changed. I think that Lucasfilm has put forth a beautifully directed, fun story, and I look forward to the idea of seeing some of these characters return to the big screen. I, obviously, highly suggest seeing Solo: A Star Wars Story in theaters to enjoy some summer Star Wars fun.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.