Solo: A Star Wars Story‘s balanced narrative and splendid action sequences make this release a helluva good time.
While Solo has had its fair share of attention (both negative and positive), one can’t help but be smitten by the film. Rogue One is a good time but certainly has a purpose to serve. Solo: A Star Wars Story has a transformative effect on the audience. As fans sit down to watch the release, they will be whisked back to a time when their buddies would take the Millennium Falcon (or a Lando Calrissian action figure) and create crazy scenarios, only to be victorious in the end. Director Ron Howard’s latest release reminds us why as kids we all became fans of Star Wars and did so in a joyous way.
The narrative centers around the origins of Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) from his days smuggling on Corellia with his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) and how a trip to the planet Mimban was life-changing. There he meets up with a band of low-lives lead by career criminal Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and proceeds to join their crew. We see how Han met Chewbacca (now played by Joonas Suotamo) and, more importantly, find out how Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) first became a part of Han’s world.
Ehrenreich proves he’s more than up to the challenge of playing Han Solo. His performance maintained the sarcasm and wit which Harrison Ford brought to the role. What was striking is the amount vulnerability he showed in the film. It certainly seems that, over the course of this film and the inevitable sequel to follow, we will learn how Solo became so cynical.
Clarke’s efforts certainly makes fans forgive her missteps during the last Terminator film. The chemistry between Solo and Qi’ra is off the charts. Her love for the Corellian smuggler is undeniable and is only surpassed by a need to survive. Clarke’s character is much more complicated, and her allegiances are certainly put to the test during the film. The warmth Qi’ra projects onscreen and the conflict in her actions will draw audiences right in.
Glover’s portrayal of Lando Calrissian is so fantastic and brings clarity to all the chatter about a possible film about one of our favorite scoundrels. Some of my favorite moments in the movie come when Lando is holding court while playing cards. He brings such smugness and bravado to the role that it was if Glover was channeling Billy Dee Williams while onscreen. Harrelson and Paul Bettany also bear mentioning as each bring essential elements to the narrative. Harrelson’s character becomes sort of a mentor to Han, while Bettany indeed embraces his darker side in the role of gangster Dryden Vos.
Lawrence Kasdan and Johnathan Kasdan struck a perfect balance between the humor and grandeur of the ever-expanding Star Wars universe. One of my highlights is how, right off the bat, Kasdan highlights the scheming ways of Solo and his future co-pilot Chewbacca as they escapes from two Imperial guards. The storyline also lays plausible circumstances which initially lead to the infamous Kessel run fans have heard about for years. Could the father and son writing duo not spend enough time establishing Han and Qi’ra’s connection? Yes, but that’s just a small critique of what was a highly enjoyable tale.
Howard shows such a steady hand (especially under these circumstances), and the result was a quality final product for all. The pace of Solo doesn’t seem rushed, allowing for little drag. Bradford Young’s cinematography utilized an earthy color palette that gives the film a dated look (remember this is supposed to take place before Episode IV). Young makes a point to bring the camera in ever so close, capturing those intimate details of the Millennium Falcon. Neil Lamont’s production design had a realistic yet worldly look to it. None of the buildings seem out of place, and all of them blend into these new worlds.
Overall, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a terrific ride and embodies everything fans love about this universe. It’s certainly worth your time this weekend and undoubtedly safe to bring children to.