The biggest badass of the galaxy and many people’s favourite character from the Star Wars saga rightly deserved a solo – excuse the pun – movie. There were many doubts about this project, directors swapped halfway through, but the most important one was casting. Who could play the legendary smuggler better than Harrison Ford? Well, Alden Ehrenreich delivered a decent performance, and in my opinion, Ron Howard with his film shushes all the sceptics. Solo: A Star Wars Story is a high-octane entertainment, full of references to the universe of the series, with good dialogues and colourful characters in the background. Fans should love that.
Han is trouble. From the very beginning of the film, this character is involved in some scams on the planet Corellian. To cheat one, to run the other, and then to get into even more trouble – this seems to be Han’s motto. He hopes the tables will finally turn, he’ll get rich and be able to buy a spaceship of his dreams and travel around the galaxy. With his vision, he infects Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), his girlfriend and partner in crime. She, unfortunately, falls into the hands of local criminals when running the ultimate heist. The main character will vow that he will return to the planet, find and rescue her. As soon as he finishes the pilot training at the Imperial Academy…
Wait a minute, Han as a pilot on the dark side of the force?! Well, as with Han, all plans go out the window. After three years, we find him fighting on the side of the Empire on some forgotten, muddy planet. He is not a pilot – far from it, he’s a low-rank foot soldier, trying to defeat some innocent locals that struggle to stay afloat under the rule of the Empire. His talent for flying will not replace obedience to orders, and those Solo cannot stand. No wonder he will quickly smell a soulmate.
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Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) is not who he claims to be and he certainly impresses young Han. Fighting skills, charisma, brilliance – it’s something that these characters share. Together with Val (Thandie Newton), the four-handed pilot Rio (voiced by Jon Favreau) and the hairy giant Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), they will create an accidental bunch who will plan a brazen attack on the transport of precious fuel. After this theft Han will certainly be able to purchase his ultimate spacecraft and return to Corellian to find Qi’ra. If everything goes to plan.
Solo: A Star Wars Story in a simple, linear way tells the birth of a legend. It’s not a pompous process, it’s carved in blood, sweat and adventure. Because he’s a man who is always playing with death, who is not afraid to take risks, for whom troubles are his daily bread. As for a good adventure movie, Solo will not bore you at all. The pursuit follows the shooting, then there’s a western duel, a fight, the escape and again some dreadful task. In this type of film, there is no time for long psychological analysis, but Howard and the screenwriters (Jon and Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote both Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark) know how to quickly built a character. Those cosmic outlaws have their dreams, a moral code and it’s hard to dislike them for that. They are defined by their actions, not their words.
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Star Wars universe would not do without a cute droid, and L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) delivers her lines timely as a tin can fighting for robot rights. Her lines are amongst the best in the film and they will make the audience laugh hard.
The two most anticipated relationships in Solo: A Star Wars Story are those of Han with Lando (Donald Glover) and Chewbacca. The first meeting with the latter one is a real comedy genius. Their fate is sealed forever … with a shower. Duo Glover / Ehrenreich on a screen works like a dream. Those guys tease, fight, argue. There is fierce competition between them, but also a sympathy. It does not mean that one of them will not betray the other in a crucial moment. Oh, that’s life in the galaxy, in those lawless times. There are also iconic elements that this movie could not do without. Han’s weapon, history of lucky dice and of course, the Millennium Falcon.
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Hardcore Star Wars fans will have a huge fun in deciphering the whole range of references to the universe of novels, animated films and comic books. Unfortunately, those who are less familiar with the saga’s history may feel a bit lost when it comes to all details. Also, at times, I had the impression that women in the story are treated a bit as beautiful additions. Fortunately, the final act changed my mind. I also felt some motifs might have been handled more subtle, like the relationship between Beckett and Han. I would also want to see a bit more of Qi’ra’s backstory, that has changed her for good.
However, those minor flaws did not impact my reception of the film. Solo: A Star Wars Story brings a multitude of colourful characters and fanciful worlds (the nebula with monsters inside is terrific).This blockbuster does not disappoint with special effects and imaginative costumes – a visual feast perfectly matches the escapist sense of an ongoing adventure.
There will probably be some who will claim Solo is not a canonic Star Wars picture. They will be in the minority because Ron Howard has delivered a very good movie that has humour, excitement and great attention to details. What more could we want?
Solo: A Star Wars Story
directed by Ron Howard
A Walt Disney Studio release premieres in cinemas across the UK and Ireland on the May 24th.