‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ (2018, 12A)

Is ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ a Han-tastic adventure, or a space-filled flop?

Set between Episodes 3 and 4 of the main Star Wars continuity, ‘Solo’ follows the fan-favourite character (played by Aldan Ehrenreich) when he’s still a young thief, searching for a way off his home planet Corellia, and to fulfil his dreams as a pilot, with his love, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). But, when things don’t go to plan, Han Solo ends up as a part of a criminal plot, tied up with outlaw Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and giant Wookiee Chewbacca (Joonas Suoatamo). It’s then a mission for Han to complete the crime, escape with his cut and live his dream-life, all while avoiding upsetting the murderous gangster, Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany).

The first Star Wars spin-off from two years ago, ‘Rogue One’, has split opinions on its merits compared to other films in the franchise, but I’m a big fan. Because of this, I wasn’t so pessimistic in my expectations for ‘Solo’ as other fans, but after the rather disappointing ‘Episode VIII – The Last Jedi’ at the end of last year, I was somewhat dubious going in to ‘Solo’. Well, I can safely say that ‘Solo’ is a very fun and enjoyable movie, and didn’t leave me feel disappointed coming out of the cinema. That being said, I did have a few gripes with the movie…

I’ll start with the positives though — namely the performances. I think Ehrenreich captures the spirit of a young Han Solo perfectly, as does Donald Glover as a young Lando Calarissian. With Han, there’s still the suave charm and arrogance of the older Solo in the original films, but with a slight naivety brought from never experiencing the hardening life that older Solo has. It’s captured extremely well. There’s also some really excellent CGI and visual effects in this film — save the fully CG-animated stormtrooper riding a speeder-bike at the beginning. It looks as bad as you imagine.

I’m also a fan of the general plot of the film for the most part, the narrative focusing on a single heist that Han takes on rather than an ‘end-of-the-universe, everyone’s-going-to-die’ plot that we’ve grown used to and immune to by now. Also, it wouldn’t really make sense if Han Solo had already saved the galaxy before meeting Luke Skywalker etc. However, the film does take a little while to get going, and the beginning felt somewhat rushed to me.

Now to the parts of the film that I’m not so keen on, namely the aforementioned beginning. As I said, it feels rushed and choppy, and some of the dialogue feels a bit corny for the first twenty minutes. It’s also in the beginning that we’re introduced to Han’s love interest, Qi’ra, and I never really ended up buying into their relationship, or her as a character. There’s a lot of loose threads with her, and I’m all for enigmatic characters etc., but for a film that’s soul purpose is to explain in entirety where a character came from, they never explain where Qi’ra came from. She’s introduced after an exhilarating speeder-chase with a passionate kiss to Han and… that’s it. She just is. Also, I’ve never thought of Han Solo having a love-of-his-life before Princess Leia, and I felt it somewhat undermined their relationship in the original films.

The film took a little while to get going for me, as though the beginning felt rushed, nothing really happened. However, when it did get going, I must say the action sequences in ‘Solo’ were excellently put together and gripping.

Overall, ‘Solo’ was a fun action-adventure with some great visuals and performances, but let down by a somewhat rushed beginning and an underdeveloped, unneeded (in my opinion) love-interest, meaning it gets an eight-out-of-ten.

8/10

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