Movie Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

[Warning:  Spoilers below.]

How does one view this film?  If it is viewed as a film in its own right, in the genre of a smuggler or western film with a somewhat naive but simultaneously arrogant anti-hero and his associates at its core, it is certainly a decent enough minor film.  Unfortunately, this film is part of the Star Wars series [1] and is the first film that serves to introduce Disney’s rebooted expanded universe with films outside of the main series.  To put it bluntly, this film is no Rogue One, no story whose pathos and the shock of the plot and emotional depth.  I mildly enjoyed the film, but this is definitely a film for Star Wars fanboys that helps to point out the general corruption and seediness of the Star Wars universe.  It is an inessential film, though, not one that is really compelling when it comes to the Star Wars universe.

I’m going to get into a bit of the structure of this film and I hope I don’t lose my readers.  This film has a classic three act structure.  The first act introduces us to a young Hans Solo who feels driven to save a lover he left behind on the home planet named Qi’ra and shows him seeking to escape from being an imperial grunt and find his destiny as a freedom loving pilot, ending when Han Solo rescues Chewbacca from slavery and manages to save himself as well.  In the second act we see a couple of smuggling episodes including some complicated schemes and the epic Kessel run that is referred to in later films.  It is really the third act where this film goes off the rails a bit.  There is a complicated amount of betrayals and Han Solo ends up with Chewie in the Millennium Falcon trying to look for “one more score” to earn their money while some characters end up dead or making new beginnings that have later resonance.  We know that Han has to end up alone so he can end up with Leia, but this film is not really all that satisfying in its ending.

The acting in this film is somewhat uneven as well, and it’s not really the fault of the actors themselves, who are doing the best they can with the material.  The fault here is really on the writing and the framing of the film–more on that shortly.  Solo is acted by Alden Ehrenreich, who does his best to convey a sense of confidence and improvisation to the proceedings, showing himself as being a bit too idealistic for the world that he is in, being forced to be a good guy when he doesn’t want to be, and trying to avoid making a decision between the two sides when the course of the film is forcing him to do so.  Emilia Clarke has the thankless role of the loved one left behind who cannot reveal to Solo what she really is or really wants and whose betrayal leaves the ending feeling a bit lacking.  Woody Harrelson plays a gritty smuggler and deceiver whose frequent attempts to betray Han go a bit off the rails as well.  That said, every time Lando Calrassian and Chewbacca are in the film is generally enjoyable.

But it is the framing of this film that lets the film down the most.  The framing problems are complex.  This film is an inessential side story that is simultaneously seeking to draw emotional resonance from an Extended Universe that only serious fans of the series would be aware of while also trying to pave over a great deal of the previous Extended Universe.  When you overcome this framing and the plot contrivances that keep Solo away from his lady love and introduce some uncomfortable comparisons between Solo’s relationship with Qi-ra and Chewbacca, then you have an SJW droid to deal with who is actively better as a part of the ship than as a thoroughly annoying character constantly going on an on about droid rights.  Even Lando, viewed here as a charming pansexual, cannot escape the politically correct farming of the contemporary period.  I just wanted a movie to enjoy, but Solo:  A Star Wars Story by Disney really fails to provide an enjoyable movie because it simply has too much context getting in the way.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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