Film: Solo: A Star Wars Story
Director: Ron Howard
Principal Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany
Plot in a nutshell: After escaping a lifetime of servitude on his home planet Corellia, a young Han Solo joins the fledgling Empire as a pilot but is kicked out for insubordination and forced to become a a lowly Imperial footsoldier. Fed up with his lot he goes AWOL, meets a certain 7ft Wookie called Chewbacca and falls in with a gang of mercenaries led by Woody Harrelson’s Tobias Beckett. After a heist to steal some precious fuel called Coaxium goes badly wrong, Han, Chewie and Beckett find themselves in debt to the infamous crime syndicate Crimson Dawn led by a vicious gangster (Paul Bettany) who threatens to kill them all unless they steal another batch of Coaxium.
The Good: All the performances are good – Ehrenreich pretty much nails it as Han, Harrelson is always watchable and Glover is excellent as Lando Calrissian. There are also two standout action scenes – a breakneck paced train heist and of course the famous Kessel run sequence which is very exciting and is the highlight of the film.
The Bad: Nothing in this film brings anything new to Han’s story that we didn’t already know, and with the notable exception of one gob-smacking character cameo, Howard and the screenwriters completely fail to expand the Star Wars universe in any significant way. Overall the whole thing is rather flat and very by the numbers – which simply isnt good enough for a Star Wars film.
Best Scene: The Kessel Run.
Summary: Perfectly watchable and another marked improvement over the much maligned prequels, a really good cast led by Ehrenreich does well and its always great to see Chewie and The Millennium Falcon, but unlike Last Jedi and Rogue One it lacked any edge or bite and was all rather soft and predictable. Indeed i’d go so far as to say that on many occasions it didnt even feel like a proper Star Wars film. Another problem was that it was released too soon after The Last Jedi. Part of the success of the recent Star Wars films is that they are spaced apart by at least 12 months and are real events in the cinematic calendar – Solo just seems to have appeared without much fanfare in a summer already packed with competition (Deadpool 2, Avengers) and as a result this has taken away the excitement one always feels in the lead up to the release of a Star Wars film. The behind the scenes issues have also not helped matters at all – i still find it baffling that three weeks before the end of principal photography original directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord were sacked and replaced by Ron Howard. Ok Howard is a good director, but the guy hasnt had a hit in years and isnt exactly known for directing films of this genre. Perhaps Lord and Miller should have been allowed to finish the film and then it could have been fixed in post production – sadly we will never get to see their original vision and considering how flat and boringly safe the finished product is, id say that’s a great shame.
Watchable but disappointing.
Worth paying to see at the Cinema? Yes
Worth Buying on Blu Ray/DVD? – Yes
Will Strong aka Grosse Point Geek