REVIEW: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story Logo
Solo: A Star Wars Story Logo

When I first heard about Disney and Lucasfilm’s plan to make a stand-alone film about Han Solo, I became concerned. Naturally, my thoughts drifted to who in the known galaxy would be able to portray Han Solo other than Harrison Ford?

It didn’t take long for me to learn who the grand prize winner would be: Alden Ehrenreich. I must admit that I had no clue who Alden was, or any of the other actors except for Emilia Clarke. As production continued, I like many fans, read about the horror stories on set, culminating with Lucasfilm parting ways with Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller.

To rescue the film from certain disaster, Lucasfilm hired veteran actor and director Ron Howard to salvage the film. Before it was all said and done, eighty percent of the entire movie was re shot, and Solo became the most expensive Star Wars film to date, costing an estimated two hundred and fifty million dollars (U.S.) to produce, with another one hundred and fifty spent on promotions.

At the box office, Solo didn’t seem to get off the ground, with a worldwide revenue of just four hundred and fifty million, far below its projected one-billion-dollar goal, and twice the cost of production. Many longtime fans of the franchise cited the choice of the lead actor, adding fuel to a still burning fire begun in December 2017, with fan backlash over creative decisions made for The Last Jedi.

Disney and Lucasfilm’s one shot at redemption for Solo would be its home release on September 25th. Their hopes were for a far more positive reception to the Blu-Ray and DVD, which would bolster the bottom end of revenue on the film. On September 28th, I took a gamble on Solo, and here are my thoughts:

Initially, I was very shocked at how great a film Solo really is. It has all of the familiarity of a Star Wars film, and yet it’s a new adventure, a new story, with old friends, and new alike. In the first act Han and Qi’ra’s life on Corellia shows the desperation of their situation, and reflects the unfairness of not only their world, but many of our own as well. You can relate to both of them, and you can feel the stakes that exist for them both.

The Imperial elements were magnificently done, and really provided viewers a feel for just how expansive the Empire’s reach has become. From the checkpoints and guards, to the Stormtroopers and recruitment holos, the presence of the Empire was felt on a very personal level throughout the first act.

The battle scenes of Mimban also served to relate to viewers the reality of Imperial domination, while providing a very realistic glimpse at galactic warfare. In all fairness, the battle of Mimban eclipsed the battle scenes of Scarif in Rogue One, and they drew you in to the action at hand. It’s during these scenes that we first meet Beckett, Val, and Rio. Han and Chewie’s introduction was a well-acted scene, along with the Mimban troopers guarding them.

In the second act we see our gang journey to Vandor-1, where there is a great balance of action, and interpersonal drama between the characters. My favorite scenes here were the train heist, and the reunion between Han and Qi’ra. Han meeting Lando for the first time, and his introduction to the Falcon, were all great scenes as well. More great action on Kessel, culminating with the famed Kessel Run and crash on Savareen were some of the best scenes of the film.

In the third and final act there are some very emotional and sad moments for Han, that happen within a very short time. First his showdown with Beckett, which hurt to watch. I mean here’s this guy who is a mentor of sorts to Han, but in the end is willing to kill him for money. After they face off, Han is forced to watch Qi’ra drift away in Dryden Vos’ ship, leaving Han and Chewbacca alone.

I really enjoyed Enfys Nest, and her big reveal at the end, and I hope that we see her again in a future film. Her character has so much unexplored depth and intrigue, and the possibilities for her are endless. The only moment in the film that I disagreed with, though I understood, was the decision to have Han use Lando’s cheat card to win the Falcon. It almost contradicted his conversation years later with Lando on Bespin.

My Final Thoughts

Solo is a great film, and the continuity of the film is evident throughout the story and carves its own niche in the Star Wars universe, while contributing to the overall Star Wars story. The film also does a great job at providing a glimpse into why Han Solo is the way he is, and the events that shaped his personality. I would highly recommend this movie to every fan of Star Wars, and I hope that it isn’t the last we see of a younger Han.