Solo: A Star Wars Story review
I will try to keep this spoiler-free. There is sort of one at the end, be warned.
I loved Solo. As a life-long Star Wars fanatic and one of the many who always thought Han was a bigger hero than Luke (without Han, Luke dies on Tattooine… or the Battle of Yavin, or just before the Battle of Hoth, or aboard the second Death Star, you get the point) this was a film I was looking forward to, and it did not disappoint. It plays like nearly every Star Wars RPG event I have ever written or run.
The movie starts out with cues from Brian Daley’s Han Solo at Star’s End. It isn’t a spoiler to say that Han is a street-rat who races swoops and speeders and commits petty crime on behalf of a criminal kingpin. Corellia is dirtier than I ever imagined, grittier, but I liked that about the film.
That isn’t the only cue from the early Han Solo books, either. Beckett is similar to Badure, Han’s mentor in the books and his wife is similar to the original (can’t remember her name) as well. The film is full of cues like that, which sort of validated my fandom for all these years. There are cues from the old books, cues from the original Kasdan story for ESB (he also co-wrote this screenplay), cues from the Millennium Falcon technical manual and magazines, honestly, if you don’t see the connections, you aren’t as big a fan as you thought you were. It does completely ignore the “Expanded Universe” origin of Han, which I am fine with. The books by A.C. Crispin were crap.
Alden Ehrenreich is a believable Han Solo. Is he Harrison Ford? No. Were any of the actors tapped for the role? Also no. While I would love to have seen Harrison Ford made younger through CGI, this was the next best thing. Alden has many of Ford’s mannerisms down pat, and there is a scene where he is wearing a trooper helmet where he makes the exact same face Harrison Ford does in RotJ. I could have sworn it was Harrison when I first saw it. He has Han’s swagger, even holds the DL-44 the same way. While I don’t think he’s as good as Ford, I think he is a fan who put in a lot of work to get the role and be the character, and I give him props for studying. Harrison Ford, by the way, agreed in two different interviews that he loves what Alden did with the role and is happy with the film. You can find his words in Variety and Entertainment Magazine.
Chewie is awesome. Originally Lucas wanted Chewbacca to do more, but they couldn’t. The suit was too bulky and couldn’t get wet. There is a reason he stands on a platform in the trash compactor scene instead of down with everyone else. Pete Mayhew couldn’t see well, it was hot and sweaty in the suit, and letting Chewie do more just wasn’t in the cards. With updated tech and a better suit, Chewie gets many chances to be his own Wookiee, and that is one of the things I always loved about the old Han Solo books, Chewie was a hero in his own right. Hopefully, they will do more with the big Wook in the upcoming films.
Lando is very Lando, and I appreciated Glover’s performance. Unlike some viewers, I don’t think he’s the best part of the film. He’s a great addition and I honestly feel Glover is better at the role than Billy Dee was, but he is by no means the star of the film. He’s Lando, with a cape collection, manicured hands and a card up his sleeve. And yes, he’s pansexual. Get over it. Straight people make up only a fraction of sexuality. In a galaxy with a million species and dozens of sexes, worrying about the “straight male” perspective is stupid.
The Falcon… what can I say? If you didn’t know why Lando’s Falcon looks different going into the film, you were again not the “big fan” you thought you were. There is a reason there is a big escape pod attached to the bow mandibles. That’s all I’m saying.
Qi’ra… Qi’ra is the one part of the film that annoys the crap out of me. Don’t get me wrong, aside from the fact Emilia Clark looks like she let a surgeon mess with her face, she is a wonderful actress and does a much better job than with Dany in Game of Thrones. The writers and director, being old men, Fridged her for much of the film. She doesn’t get to shine as much as she should and one of her defining moments (a display of Teras Kassi, a throwback to the old comics and PS-One game) takes place behind a door so you don’t get to see it much. I found that extremely annoying.
Okay, now there is a potential spoiler, but I think it needs to be brought up. A major character from A Phantom Menace appears at the end of the film and foreshadows the next two (yes, Aldren and Howard let slip there is potential for two more Solo films) films. Most viewers think he is dead, however taking cues from the animated show Rebels (which is cannon, btw) he’s brought back. Solo takes place before Rebels, so he is most definitely still alive and I can’t wait to see how that plays out with Qi’ra.
- The timing is slightly off. In the original books and screenplays, Han has only made a few runs for Jabba. The end of Solo makes it seem like he’s about to take a big job, which eludes to his issues in a New Hope… except ANH doesn’t happen for another fifteen years.
- Han picks up gunslinging awful fast. If he was a female, the haters would be screaming “Mary Sue!”
- While the music takes many cues from Tattooine Escape in ANH and the Asteroid Field in ESB, it uses hints of Leia’s Theme from the original trilogy for Qi’ra. She should have her own theme. (Yes, I am that much of a Star Wars nerd).
- I didn’t like how Han and Chewie meet. It was unique and fun, but not what was in their original backstory. I know the screenwriters and director wanted to make it fit into the mythology of this film, but it could have been better. On the other hand, a wet Wookiee and the scene that follows are both pretty awesome.
- I expected Lando to return for future films. It makes sense this one ends the way it does (of course he isn’t dead, chill out) considering the other two Solo films are up in the air the ending is alright. I would have been okay with their final sabacc game being saved for later, though.
Overall, I loved it as much as Return of the Jedi and really hope it gets the next two films. I have tickets to see it twice more.
I give it 4 ½ out of five stars.