I remember having to wait years between Star Wars films, ten years between Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens in particular, now we get them ever year, like a sci-fi Christmas, except this one has come just 6 months after the last one.
In this film we jump back in the timeline once more to discover the origins of the roguish Han Solo, and how he met his most famous allies. How does it measure up to previous movies? Well, read on to find out.
Desperate to live the life of an outer-space outlaw, Han Solo breaks free of his life of servitude to join a gang of space smugglers, while trying to figure out a way to get back to rescue his lost love Qi’ra.
I feel as though Solo was on the back foot from the word go among release. Star Wars fans are a difficult bunch, as evidenced by the split reaction to the excellent Last Jedi, and even I felt less enthusiasm this time round, and I left the cinema like I wasn’t disappointed, not too enthralled either though.
One issue I have with spin-offs is, some feel more unnecessary than most films, but what stands out in the Star Wars universe is that there’s so many gaps to plug in the canon that making spin-offs seems like a great idea. Rogue One felt like a story we needed to see, of how the rebels ended up with the Death Star plans, and hearing Han Solo’s journey to the confident rogue we saw first in A New Hope seemed like a great idea.
To get negativity out of the way first, the pace can drag from time to time, it’s not as long as a The Last Jedi, but doesn’t feel like it, it certainly felt like it could use more editing to cut out the filler and focus a bit more. Also, and this is a trivial one even by my standards, the lighting can get incredibly dark in some scenes. To the point where it gets difficult to see what’s going on, I get that the parts of space we’re being shown aren’t supposed to be well-lit and happy places but there’s no excuse for putting artistry above your audiences enjoyment, that’s just pretentious.
On a more positive light, Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover were an absolute treat, Glover especially slips into the slick capes of Lando effortlessly, playing the character exactly how you’d expect a young Billy Dee Williams would have played it and Ehrenreich is effectively charming and loveable, didn’t feel like he stole the show as Solo, but he had some seriously big shoes to fill, he doesn’t feel like he eclipses Harrison Ford, but not stuck in his shadow either, didn’t feel like we explored everything he had to offer. Woody Harrelson was characteristically excellent in his role as smuggler and role model Tobias Beckett.
There was a glaring weak spot in the cast, and that is Emilia Clarke. In Game of Thrones she gets away with her robotic delivery because of her character, here she seemed stiff and awkward, her monotonous delivery not helping matters. She also had no chemistry with Ehrenreich’s Han Solo, which is a problem given that she played his love interest. Clarke has her strengths but they weren’t on show here (and that wasn’t a double entendre).
Another problem I had in the cast department was the lack of a distinguishable villain, Paul Bettany is arguably the big bad, but we rarely get to see his character so the final fight seems lifeless and lacking stakes. The scenes he was in were wasted too, he chewed scenery like most villains but as for his motivations? They were non-existent, besides just being a ‘bad guy’ we expect better.
The direction was competent, in places even incredibly impressive, a few action scenes standing out in particular as winners, but it was very much a film handed between directors, with Ron Howard taking the reins from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, and it’s a good job Ron Howard is experienced enough to make the movie work, even excel in some points.
In conclusion, it’s fun to be in this universe for another few hours and it fills gaps in canon (with one event in particular becoming fulfilled on screen) but it does feel as though it’s becoming less special with each visit, it’s overall a competent and even fun experience but it does drag in places, wouldn’t blame you if you skipped it, but it does have some element of fun.