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Solo: A Star Wars Story - Review

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

SOLO could well be the Ant-Man of the Star Wars universe.

For starters, there’s a notoriously troubled shoot, which (just like Ant-Man) saw the film’s original directors replaced. And then there’s the fact that it plays out on a noticeably smaller scale than most of the other films in its franchise. Most crucial, however, is that Solo defies expectations to emerge as a much better film than anticipated in spite of the problems surrounding it.

Ron Howard’s film is essentially a heist movie (again, like Ant-Man) that serves as an introduction to some of Star Wars most beloved characters. First and foremost, there’s Han Solo, nicely played by Alden Ehrenreich to embody more than a few nods to Harrison Ford’s iconic character, while also making the role his own for possible future instalments.

But we also get to see how he met and befriended Chewbacca (played here by Finnish actor Joonas Suotamo), acquired the Millennium Falcon and – by extension – became an acquaintance of Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover).

Howard, who belatedly stepped in for original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, enjoyably pieces all of these elements together, while revealing some interesting new characters to boot.

Primary among these is Solo’s love interest Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), whose outright loyalties aren’t always that clear. But then there’s a roguish master-thief named Beckett (the ever-reliable Woody Harrelson) and a new super-villain in the form of Paul Bettany’s Dryden Vos. All make their presence felt.

Enjoyable, too, is another new droid, named L3-37, a right-hand woman to Lando (voiced by Fleabag‘s Phoebe Waller-Bridge), as well as Thandie Newton’s no-nonsense career criminal Val.

If Howard doesn’t always successfully deliver as much screen-time as some of these new players deserve, then the fault perhaps lies in the screenplay (by Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan) and the many elements it tries to squeeze in, including several double crosses and a large helping of robust set pieces.

But if that criticism doesn’t unduly harm the movie’s overall entertainment value, it does belatedly expose a bigger overall flaw – the question of whether the movie was needed in the first place. And the answer is sure to divide opinion.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

On the one hand, Solo does tick all the right boxes for Star Wars fans. Its nods to the future and certain character traits are cleverly dealt and it’s nice to find a Star Wars film that’s content to focus more on character than the bigger, universe-in-peril picture.

And yet there’s an inevitability to the fate of some characters (primarily, its main principals) that negates some of the film’s capacity to surprise (unlike first spin-off Rogue One), while the lack of anything genuinely breath-taking may disappoint some. There’s a shortage of iconic moments, even if some interesting seeds are being sewn for potential future spin-offs.

It’s perhaps in this area where the difficulties surrounding the production of the film are exposed. But even then, it may depend on just how ardent a Star Wars fan you are. If, like me, you exist primarily to be entertained (if not always blown away), then Solo is fun, flawed and ultimately forgettable. It’s an amiable popcorn adventure… and sometimes that’s all you need.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 2hrs 15mins
UK Release Date: May 24, 2018

  1. This reviewer has been too generous. Star Wars has created some of the most iconic moments in cinema. It took risks. This feels like a film prepared to play things too safe, right down to sacking a pair of directors who would genuinely have subverted expectations. This review lacks any risk.

    Steve    May 27    #