Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover
Director: Ron Howard
Running Time: 135 mins
Solo: A Star Wars Story is an American film that follows Han Solo from his escape from a life of poverty to his participation in a heist that leads him deeper into the criminal underworld, but where he meets a group of people that will one day become all that he has.
I had a lot of fun with this film. While it isn’t the almighty space opera that the best of the Star Wars saga offers, it is still a fairly light-hearted and entertaining adventure movie, complete with great action, good humour, and all the callbacks and references to make big fans of the series of smile. Its story does admittedly lack depth, and doesn’t provide a particularly wholesome look into how Han Solo developed from a young man into the scoundrel we know so well, while its relative lack of larger stakes makes it all feel a little less impressive than most Star Wars movies, but that doesn’t intrude on the best, most enjoyable moments of adventure throughout.
All in all, that’s why you should watch this movie. We tend to take Star Wars a little too seriously, holding it to a standard that’s not really expected of other films, simply because it has such prestige. Now, I think holding Star Wars in a higher view is what makes it so special, but films like Solo prove that the universe can also tell fun, throwaway adventure stories without having to be an incredibly in-depth assessment of the galaxy it’s all set in.
So, while it may not have the universe-ending stakes of the main saga, there’s a great adventure to follow along here, as we see Han go through all sorts of adventures as a part of this motley crew, filled to the brim with really entertaining action that’s an absolute joy to watch.
Sure, none of the action sequences have the prestige and wonder of an incredible lightsaber battle, but the gritty fight scenes combined with big chases across space and more are all really fun, and directed in a slick and confident manner that allows you to sit back and enjoy, without having any really taxing drama or thrills to weigh you down.
Another plus from this film comes in the form of its humour, which was a lot better than I expected. While I felt that The Last Jedi undid the good work of The Force Awakens in giving Star Wars a good injection of humour, this film has got a great amount of jokes that make for some proper laughs throughout. Again, it’s not intended to overpower the action entertainment, but the humour throughout is always a welcome addition, particularly in the calmer sequences when the film’s storytelling isn’t quite as enthralling.
And a lot of that humour would be nothing without some of the brilliant performances throughout the film. Although not all of the cast is particularly outstanding, and those with relative supporting roles like Woody Harrelson don’t have the impact you’d like to see, I found Alden Ehrenreich very entertaining as Han Solo, bringing a good degree of innocence to the character, as well as his own style that makes him a good emulation of Harrison Ford’s Solo, albeit one from a different period with very different characteristics.
Meanwhile, Donald Glover is good as Lando Calrissian, brilliantly emulating Billy Dee Williams’ infinite charisma in the role, and although he’s never quite as present as I’d have liked, he does have a good impact whenever he’s on screen, bringing good humour and a sense of cool throughout.
When it comes to the film’s characterisation, that’s where things start to fall apart a little. On the one hand, I was glad to see that the Han Solo in this film isn’t exactly the same as the one we know from A New Hope onwards. He’s younger, more innocent and far less cynical, and it’s interesting to see him experience things that eventually turn him into that classic character of the original trilogy, so that area of development is fairly interesting.
However, I still felt like Han Solo, as well as the rest of the characters, was still a little basic when it came to fleshing out real character depth. He’s a fun lead, but that’s about it, and he really doesn’t seem the most intriguing or riveting character you’ll ever see, meaning that it’s hard to look past him, along with all of the other characters, as little more than a blockbuster hero, without the depth or intrigue that makes the best Star Wars characters so engrossing.
While I had a lot of fun with this film as a light-hearted adventure blockbuster, I still felt that its easy-going atmosphere was a little underwhelming as a part of the Star Wars universe. I’m happy to watch a Star Wars movie that doesn’t have universe-defining stakes, but there really isn’t all that much new or important about this movie in the context of the wider story to make it more interesting.
Its tie-ins to the rest of the universe are generally limited to brief mentions or cutesy references, but as for teaching you more about the galaxy, or bringing extra depth to the Star Wars story as a whole, there’s not all that much to rave about.
In comparison to Rogue One, which provided a smaller-scale story that still provided intriguing new information about the galaxy far, far away, Solo is just a spin-off movie and little else, which didn’t give that wide-eyed sense of wonder and excitement that makes me love Star Wars so much.
Overall, I had a lot of fun with Solo: A Star Wars Story. It’s a good adventure movie with great action, good humour and generally entertaining characters and performances, making it an enjoyable watch throughout. However, its lack of depth and stakes leave it as somewhat of an underwhelming watch in the context of the Star Wars saga, failing to live up to the wondrous nature of the series’ best films, and ultimately feeling like a simple throwaway blockbuster that, while entertaining, doesn’t have the impact or intrigue to really impress you, which is why I’m giving it a 7.6.