Film Review: Solo – A Star Wars Story

A new Star Wars film is always going to divide audiences. You will have the purists that say that the modern day films only tamper with the original stories, then you have those that think the new films are a breath of fresh air. Let’s all just take a step back though and take a look at these films the way we should – as an individual film and not as a collective. Let’s also assume that ‘new’ doesn’t always necessary bad – something we recently found out with Rogue One which actually turned out to be one of the best Star Wars films… in my humble opinion.

Now like Rogue One this new film – Solo: A Story Wars Story – doesn’t fit into the current time line of films. No it goes back before the time period of the first Star Wars film and we at first find a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich – Beautiful Creatures, Stoker) very much in love with his girlfriend, Qi-ra (Emilia Clarke – Game Of Thrones, Terminator Genisys) but determined to break out of the slavery that they are in. During a daring escape bid Han makes it out and Qi-ra doesn’t.

In a bid to get back to her Han decides to leave the military and join forces with a habitual thief, Beckett (Woody Harrelson – Zombieland, Natural Born Killers) with his new-found friend Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo – Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi). In doing so though Beckett and Han find themselves in debt to the very dangerous Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany – Avengers: Infinity War, A Knight’s Tale) and in order to pay it they need to team up with the very slick Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover – Community, The Martian) and pull of the heist of the century.

To hear some people talk about this film you could be excused for thinking that Disney has just tacked the movie together and hired some hack director to make a film that is no better than a TV movie, that in fact is so far wrong you may as well be in another universe. Solo is in fact a smart film, yes even better than some other Star Wars films but then what would you expect from a writing team led by Lawrence Kasdan who wrote Empire Strikes Back, Return Of The Jedi and Raiders Of The Lost Ark just to name a few of his hits… oh and of course the film was directed by none other than two-time Oscar winning director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13). When you really think about to compare Solo with the other Star Wars films is like comparing chalk with cheese. Yes the film fits into the franchise very well while Rogue One was very much a war film Solo is very much a heist film.

What I should say there is that Solo is a very good heist film and that Howard and Kasdan get a lot of things right. It could be argued that the film is over long but at the same time it is damn entertaining. Howard has the film looking as slick as the recent Blade Runner re-boot while Kasdan’s story meanders its way along putting characters in danger and living up to what should be the film’s motto ‘trust no one.’ There are so many twists and turns here that it is impossible to predict who is double crossing who and whether or of the heists are actually going to work.

The thing Star Wars fans should be rejoicing about is how many things in this film actually work. The casting of Donald Glover and Alden Ehrenreich is a stroke of genius. Neither simply do a Han or Lans impersonation, instead they mirror some of the characteristics of the original performances but in turn make the roles theirs. The films also captures some very important moments in the franchises storylines – Han between Lans and of course Han meeting Chewbacca and his introduction to the Millennium Falcon for the first time. To be honest it does do all of these things well.

The other cast member that needs to be congratulated on this film is Woody Harrelson. IT seems like this man can never put a foot wrong. Such is the hatred of so many Star Wars fans towards the newer characters in the franchise you could be forgiven for one of Hollywood’s most seasoned character actors wanting to give it a wide berth. Here though Harrelson is at his usual best and he gives us a performance that makes Beckett as memorable as his recent performances as Abraham in The Duel or the character that saved The Hunger Games – Haymitch.

Sure Solo is nothing like the original Star Wars movies – but is that really a bad thing. What we get here is a film that slots well into the Star Wars universe but is brave enough to do its own thing and become a pretty decent heist flick.

Written by Dave Griffiths

Dave has worked as a music & film journalist for over 20 years now. Aside from Heavy he does radio and various podcasts as well. He is the proud owner of Metal Cat.

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