Nightmarish Detour Movie Review: SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (2018)

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, from acclaimed director Ron Howard, gives fans the chance to delve deeper into the life of one of their favorite Star Wars characters, Han Solo. The film stars an A-list roster that includes Alden Ehrenreich (Stoker), Woody Harrelson (Zombieland), Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Donald Glover (Atlanta), and Paul Bettany (Avengers: Infinity War).

In SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, we meet young Han Solo just as he is starting out as the semi-charming, yet amateurish, miscreant that we all know and love. His adventures take him throughout the galaxy, where he teams up with a band of smugglers in hopes that a large pay day will set him free at last. It’s during his journeys that he encounters, in the most unexpected of ways, his future co-pilot and friend, Chewbacca, as well as the notorious swindler, Lando Calrissian.

I won’t pretend that I’m the biggest Star Wars fan, because I’m far from it, but I will say I was incredibly excited about SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY. Though this addition to the Star Warsfranchise wasn’t my favorite, there was a lot that I did love about it. First and foremost, we should probably get my love for Donald Glover out of the way. As a massive fan of his musical alter ego, Childish Gambino, as well as him as an actor, I was beyond stoked to see how he would take on such an iconic character. He perfectly embodied Lando Calrissian by both bringing his own flair to the character and paying homage to the original Lando, played by Billy Dee Williams. As much as I loved Glover in his role, the real star of the film, for me, was the droid L3-37, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Whether L3 was fighting for equal rights for her fellow droids or discussing the sexual tension between her and Lando, I was completely sold on her character and wanted more.

I understand that what people really want to know about is Alden Ehrenreich’s portrayal of Han Solo. Listen, no one is going to be able to fill the shows of Harrison Ford, it’s just not going to happen. My suggestion would be to go into SOLO with an open mind and try as hard as you can to not picture Harrison Ford. For the most part, Ehrenreich did a fine job. I’m not sure if I think he was the best choice for the role, but for what he was given, I thought he was okay. He definitely has that handsome quality to him but I felt he lacked the charisma that Han Solo is known for. I saw it peeking out at times, and I wish it was more prevalent throughout the movie, but it is what it is. I also found the chemistry between Qi’ra (Clarke) and Han to be not as passionate as I would have expected. With that said, and without giving anything away, I am VERY intrigued with Qi’ra’s story and I hope that we get to know more about her in future films.

In terms of the story, I felt there were some fantastic moments as well as a few reveals that I, and the rest of the audience, didn’t see coming. The first ⅔ had occasional lags, and the pacing seemed a bit off, but once the last third of the film hit, it picked up tremendously. As for the fight scenes, I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed, particularly when it comes to one involving a moving train on a snowy mountain. I also appreciated the number of strong female characters, and though there was one in particular I wish had more screen time, it was still a much needed reminder that women can be just as badass as the men. I’m sure there will be more outcry from fanboys who don’t think women should be in certain positions within this franchise, but they are going to have to learn to deal with it.

Overall, I think that SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY is going to make a lot of Star Wars fans happy. Though I didn’t catch on to all of the homages to the previous films, I still felt that the young Solo’s tale was in sync with the overall storyline of older Han Solo. If there is one thing that SOLO did do for me is it made me excited to learn more about Qi’ra with the hopes that Disney will give her her own film. Obviously, the same could be said about Lando, but there is something about Qi’ra that I think fans are going to want to know more about. Your best bet is to go into this film with a clean slate and embrace the new Han Solo and then make an informed decision on how you feel about the film outside of what Harrison Ford has given us all these years. Even though SOLO fell a wee bit short for me, overall, it’s still a worthy entry into what is sure to be a never-ending franchise.

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY arrives in theaters May 25, 2018.

Shannon McGrew
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