Solo: A Star Wars Story
One of Harrison Ford’s iconic film characters is given a prequel of sorts aka “Hans Solo” in the now seemingly endless parade of annual Star Wars films in the 2018 latest titled “Solo: A Star Wars Story” starring Alden Ehrenreich as young Solo, Donald Glover as young Lando Calrissian and Joonas Suotamoas as a young Chewbacca, along with newer characters Woody Harrelson as Beckett, Emilia Clarke as Qi'ra and Tandy Newton as Val.
We again are thrust in the opening screen shot of the Star Wars story taking place “in a galaxy, far, far away” where we see a very young impulsive Solo and his girlfriend Qi'ra both scavenging about for some precious item to secure for enough funds to bribe and leave their “god forsaken rock of a planet” to go on a mutual life long adventure romantically flying their own ship among the stars throughout the universe. But per usual the best laid plans always go awry when they are both caught by the confederates of some Centipede looking female (I guess it was a she) called Lady Proxima who apparently Solo owns some sizeable debt to. Determined to keep his “precious funds” away from her Solo and Qi’ra try to make an escape only to be separated with Qi'ra being captured. Vowing he will come back for her Solo spends the next three years looking for the right opportunity to go back for his love when he meets up with an outlaw named Becket who has a plan not only to make every one rich but enough for Solo to fly his own ship throughout the galaxy.
REVIEW: I think this is Director Ron Howards Best work in 15+ years as he takes us on this iconic saga with a much lighter, more romantic and more intimate personal touch that makes this film far better than the 2017 “SW: The Last Jedi”. Howard manages to take the lead character Solo and remove him from the clutter of him saving the entire universe or fighting an evil looking heavy breathing Vader or a red face Maul. No light sabers, no storm troopers and no menacing death star to distract him. No this film while as its premise is a science fiction tale, at its core feels, looks a lot more like an old style Cowboy Western with thrilling train robberies (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), showdowns at the OK Corral and clever conversations at card games for high stakes wagers (Tombstone).
Director Howard also incorporated some other trilling chases and plot points that clearly draw upon other films like Mad Max Fury Road and Star Trek the Wrath of Khan i.e. drawing upon both great films the feeling of narrowly escaping with their lives. And while the film will never go down as something memorable in the SW saga per se it does keep its thumb squarely on the pulse and pace gas pedal in a very good popcorn eating entertaining kind of way.
Feeling less like a leading character film, Solo: A Star Wars Story is more of a collaborative effort with Woody Harrelson providing the more notable performance in the film. He is smart, funny, energetic and overall was appropriately cast (as always) to be both an ally and scoundrel and ally again in this high flying twist and turning story that was pretty simple and easy to follow.
Now there are some technical problems in film. One of which was shooting way too many scenes especially early in the film in some misty dark milieu and on and off again throughout the rest of the film. For the life of me I cannot figure why these scenes seemingly felt out of focus at certain times that was never necessary to shoot that way at all, at least not for any plot point development affect.
In addition there also was a female robot characters who was a second officer pilot to Lando Calrissian ship “The Millennium Falcon” who had this technical sounding computer voice that was very difficult to ever understand what she was saying. The same problem also applied to some of the chase scenes where the noise of the chase and explosions were just drowned out completely to what ever they were saying or rather should I say "screaming" to one another. Still these were relatively minor defects that neither lasted that very long nor caused any real confusion to the films story.
On the plus side, it was really cool to see the origins of Solo and Chewbacca’s relationship, how Solo learned to speak “Wookie” and overall watch Chewbacca be more developed in this Star Wars back story that up until now has never been really explained. Chewie was fun to watch in this effort. He kicked ass – literally.
In the end Solo: A Star Wars Story is not some deep thoughtful moral film. Rather it’s just plain old fun to watch for its 2:25 minutes running time. Solo the film has a confident smirk about itself but it smirks in the right kind of way all the while taking us along for a pretty good ride. A uniquely Star Wars ride that while was executed with a light and not too serious touch around the edges, remained throughout something that was engaging, reasonably clever, reasonably charismatic and cinematically pleasing to look at as a solid intergalactic adventure to experience.