I realise it’s been out for a week but I only got to see Solo (A Star Wars Story) yesterday and that says it all about this foray into a galaxy far, far away. I am a fully paid up Star Wars geek, I usually take the day off when a new movie is out yet I waited for this one and went in with a heavy heart.
Was I right to be sceptical? Yes but not in the ways I thought I would be.
So let’s deal with the good stuff first.
There were fairly wide spread rumours that Alden Ehrenreich had struggled with the title role and was eclipsed by Donald Glover as Lando. I don’t think this is the case at all. I think Ehrenreich was great as Han and the inevitable Harrison Ford comparisons disappeared really early on the film for me, I saw him totally as Han. As for Glover, he is good. Should he get his own spin off movie? I’m not sure, but more on this later.
One character who finally gets centre stage is Chewie which is brilliant. For too long he’s been shoved in the co-pilot chair, this time he’s a fully-fledged cast member and hopefully this will inspire JJ Abrams to give him this honour in Episode 9.
The look of the film is unmistakably Star Wars and the first quarter is great, the train heist with the fabulous Thandie Newton is everything a kick ass Star Wars romp should be.
Now for the bad stuff.
Once the initial sequence is over, the film descends into confusion and a serious lack of story. Emilia Clarke may rule Westeros as Daenerys but in the Star Wars world her character of Qi’ra is wooden. To say that Han fell in love with Leia because he saw Qi’ra in her is doing the Princess a serious disservice, they couldn’t be more different. Star Wars has a long line of strong female characters, Leia, Jyn, Rey but I’m afraid Qi’ra will not join this list. In one action sequence she is reduced to putting out a fire with a cloak while the menfolk save the day.
While we’re on about the female characters, the new droid L3-37 was also a miss. The first time a female actor portrays a droid and she is some kind of man hungry, ineffectual militant. She doesn’t bring much to the team in the same vein as K2S0 or the fabulous C3P0 and the “girl talk” about Lando was just odd.
The rest of the supporting cast didn’t really do it either. Paul Bettany was very weak villain Dryden Vos, did we really care if he got angry, and were we told the terrible things that could happen? As for Woody Harrelson as Beckett, it was a perfect chance to be Han’s own Obi Wan Kenobi but instead a wonderful actor was lost in a 2 dimensional character who didn’t blink an eye when those close to him were killed or when he was double crossed.
That seems to be the whole problem with Solo, the writing. There was no jeopardy or twists. With a prequel, the challenge is to excite us even when we know roughly how the story is going to pan out. Rogue One is a perfect example of this, we know they get the plans but how they get them and at what cost was still up for grabs and even now, watching it over and over, you’re still gripped by the action in front of you.
For Solo there were no edge of seat moments, story twists were expected and easily won. There were some scientifically improbable and frankly ridiculous monster moments which felt like total filler.
Even the attempts to set up a sequel at the end were weak and didn’t leave me wanting to know more which leaves the Solo element of Star Wars in an interesting spot. There are story strands that need to be cleared up but given its performance, will Lucasfilm throw good money after bad to achieve this or use books and comics to sort it out?
I sound like I’m very down on the film and I might be being harsh. It was an enjoyable 90 minutes trip round the Star Wars galaxy but in the same vein as the prequels, rather than some of the excellent quality that’s come from this era of Star Wars films.
I’m glad we won’t get anything until December 2019, I feel Lucasfilm stretched themselves a little too thinly and need to re-evaluate the rumoured Kenobi and Boba Fett films or look at whether they should end Episode 9 in an explosion of story strands which can be explored separately and leave the past behind.