Skip it. 5/10
“I’m Han Solo. Yeah nobody cares”
Less of a Star Wars movie and more of a B-grade action film that’s set in the distant future. Solo: A Star Wars Story appears to be one of the largest signals that the Star Wars cow has officially begun to stop producing quality milk. What was intended to be an interesting backstory, to a beloved character of the franchise, has instead ended up as an uninspiring affair and a lackluster adventure story.
Given there was the chance to showcase the life of a brilliant smuggler, I was disappointed that the writers decided to focus on simple action sequences and not so elaborate heists. Almost every plot set piece felt devoid of any intelligent planning and stuck to commonly employed tactics and overused tropes. The character of Han Solo is a smart thinking and witty smuggler who doesn’t really show any of those attributes to great extent in a film that’s meant to showcase the life of who he is.
I did find Alden Ehrenreich who played Han Solo to be well suited for the role, but for me the story didn’t serve the enjoyment of seeing his character in interesting action sequences. Apart from displaying a flair for rebelling, Han Solo was left to very simple heist scenes that didn’t really show a high IQ for the characters. What would have been better was to see an Ocean’s 11 like structure that built up to a complicated trickery of events, with an even a twist at the end to rise up the engagement factor. I can see that the writers tried to do this with the third act of this movie, but it was really predictable and not at all as elaborate as it could have been.
From a technical perspective, I have less negatives to say because the special effects for the most part were great as always. This is something I’ve come to expect from any blockbuster budgeted film, especially with the Star Wars franchise who have so far been wonderful in that department based off all their other films. Ron Howard included some interesting first-person perspectives on vehicles in the action sequences which made them at least more interesting to watch than what they were written to be. Plus, there were some wide shots of different settings that also looked nice.
Though what did bug me was the fact that almost everything in this film looked annoyingly dark. I could understand the reduced visibility whenever characters visited a plant that was written to be a dirty wasteland. There were just too many times when they weren’t in those environments and it still was difficult to see any of their faces. Especially in the Millenium Falcon which doesn’t make sense why the inside of the spaceship wasn’t well lit and signals to me that this was not a narrative fault but rather a cinematography issue. I’ve never had such a troubling time of seeing characters faces in a film that I was surprised to see it in a Star Wars movie of all films. Even if you watch the trailer and notice the dim light nature of the first encounter between Han Solo and Lando Calrissian, that’s how the rest of the film looks.
I’m also wondering was it not possible for the writers to reflect the nature of a poor upbringing and of people hiding in the shadows without literally showing the dark visibility of their settings? The character of Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens came from a similar background but at least her desert home was beautifully bright, and I could still get the sense that she was an impoverished scavenger.
The only other noteworthy positive to bring up for Solo: A Star Wars Story was that it was well cast. I’ve already mentioned the good choice as Alden Ehrenreich for Han Solo but the same goes for his supporting cast in Woody Harrelson and Donald Glover. There were a few moments where Donald Glover overdid his Lando Calrissian accent that came off as eye rolling moments but overall, he worked well. Woody Harrelson appeared adjusted to exuberate a sort of father figure for Han Solo but unfortunately, he wasn’t written very well so that relationship was one that I didn’t really care about.
Which is a criticism that falls upon all the characters because as much as I think the actors could have been perfect for their intended roles, the story didn’t do justice to any of them. I was even left puzzled as to how exactly Han and Lando became best friends because what happens in the story doesn’t serve as strong evidence that such a friendship exists. And I could see exactly why Lando would have betrayed him later on in the Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.
This is a strange and puzzling film that’s filled with many questions for why the plot was the way it was and ultimately if it’s time to stop with the Star Wars series altogether. Whilst I’m already feeling saturated from the main storyline, I’m leaning towards the optimistic side that side adventures like Solo: A Star Wars Story could be better in the future. I believe that any film or series for that matter can handle any subject matter so long as the prose is original but more importantly compelling. Which is why I loved Blade Runner 2049 as it was not only a faithful continuation of a classic but also an intelligent and imaginative film in its own right.
Films like a Solo: A Star Wars Story have the chance to tackle something new in the Star Wars galaxy instead of the overfamiliar battle between the force and the dark side or battles with a stupendous number of light sabers. Which is why I can’t definitively say it’s time to stop the franchise but rather continue to hope for more. Great films can be made regardless of the story it chooses to tell. And even though it might become more difficult when a film tackles a subject matter or rather a familar setting that has been almost done death by now, it doesn’t make it impossible. Skip it.