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A New (yet familiar) Han Solo: A Star Wars Story Review

*Before we begin, this review is spoiler-free so you can peruse freely without any fear.*

Let me start by saying I personally wanted Solo to do well. It definitely was not what I had in mind for the next Star Wars anthology film, but it presented a chance to dive deeper into a beloved Original Trilogy character’s backstory. After seeing the film, I can say that this movie isn’t really about what makes the character Han Solo as it is about the beginnings of his career as a smuggler. As with any Star Wars movie, you’re going to have expectations going in even if you’re a casual fan, but I’d advise that you’ll have more fun watching this movie if you leave all the theorycrafting behind and just enjoy Solo for what it is. Though this film seemed to have everything against it, from former directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller being replaced with Ron Howard to the confirmation of lead actor Alden Ehrenreich needing an acting coach, the film generally rises to the occasion by presenting fans a unique, but sometimes curious, take on the not yet devil-may-care Han Solo. Alden is fine in the role so there’s no real contention there. He may not “look” like Han even still for me, but he plays him well enough. Throughout the film we are presented with a more ambitious Han that doesn't need to learn the smuggling trade as he already has the know-how he needs, only a need of learn when to use them. Some of the more comedic portions of the film derives from Han getting himself into sticky situations and trying to talk his way out. While I was a bit disappointed that you never really see Han grow into his Original Trilogy self per se, I was delighted to see how he got better at getting by purely on bravado and guts alone. All in all, the movie sets up Han to be the smuggler he becomes, but he never really changes his character by the end of the movie, largely being the same person he was before but just a lot better off. As to the supporting characters, Woody Harrelson as Beckett was a good choice for Han’s mentor. He brings with him a much needed groundedness as to what being a smuggler really means and how you can truly trust no one. I personally wanted more from his crew, Thandie Newton’s Val and Jon Favreau’s Rio, since their time together is never really expanded on too much but both were fine in their respective roles. The beautiful Emilia Clarke plays Qi’ra as street smart, savvy, but also secretive. Her character in relation to Han, however, raises a few questions throughout and after the film in terms of decisions made. Paul Bettany’s Dryden Vos may seem straight laced in his role at first glance but as the film went on I also wanted to know more about him. And of course there was Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37 who is vastly independent for a droid, along with the much anticipated Lando Calrissian played by Donald Glover. If anyone was true to form, it was Lando. Donald Glover is truly versatile in the role, portraying Calrissian with all his swagger yet also adding his own touch. He was a joy to watch especially for me. Star Wars fans will be pleased with the set-pieces as well as they are as breathtaking as one might imagine. However there was one take on a certain planet that seemed inconsistent with Star Wars lore but again I had to check my assumptions at the door. Where the movie most falters I think is the central goal and the relationship between Han and Qi’ra. Though I will not go into detail, it seemed weird for Han to make some of the decisions he did especially within the context of the timeline at this point, plus it seemed the direction of the film ultimately drops the whole point of the call-to-action at the end which left me scratching my head. There are plenty of cameos as well with the biggest being left at the end. However, I do question the inclusion since most people may question it in relation to another Star Wars movie. All in all, Solo is an enjoyable fun film that can be enjoyed by any casual or hardcore Star Wars fans. There are some questionable decisions when it comes to Han’s character and the movie’s relationship with the trilogy, but I can definitely say this film won’t be as divisive as the The Last Jedi before it. Review Score: 7.8

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