Opening for wide-release on May 25th, 2018 is the latest installment in the massive, sprawling Star Wars franchise. The 135 minute, PG-13 rated movie is poised for a dominant performance at the box office since it carries not only the Star Wars pedigree but also the Memorial Day weekend advantage along with no new release competition for the entire weekend. Typically, a holiday tends to boost a film’s box office performance by a measurable degree. So, is this a film that you will want to see during your upcoming holiday weekend?
Read on to find out! I do want to warn you that from here on out, there will be some minor, slight spoilers but I am not telling you anything earth shattering, nothing that gives away massive plot details nor will I tell you the film’s big surprises. It is just enough to illustrate my points and whet your appetite.
Solo has always been a fan-favorite character but, he came with lots of questions surrounding his back story. How would the tales unfold of his dealings with Greedo and Jabba? How did he become friends with Chewie? Where did he get that Millenium Falcon from and just what was that story with the Kessel Run? Why is he called Solo? Who shot first? And – specific to this film – how did the production troubles and directorial change affect the outcome? The movie answers some of these questions. In fact his first meeting with a muddied-up Chewie right before the Tobias Beckett / Enfys Nest story with the Coaxium power cores and the train heist is probably one of my favorite parts.
There are a couple of cool, surprising cameos but they’re borderline pandering to the audience although I did like the story behind Solo’s iconic pistol, the DL-44.
To sum the movie up in a word or two, it felt vanilla and safe. It felt like (as it did for me with the prequels) it was more focused on just checking off those boxes as answered questions in the Star
Wars mythos than actually telling a truly compelling story. That said, that plot is very straight forward and easy to follow. This movie does serve to dig deeper than ever before in to the character of Solo so we must give it credit for that.
In regard to the directorial changes and production troubles, It didn’t feel like a Lord/Miller script grafted to a Ron howard script. The movie’s style and direction did feel cohesive but I hear Howard shot/reshot upwards of 70% of the finished product. and coming from Rogue one and TLJ, this does have success in bringing some levity back to the franchise that I feel it was missing in the last couple of movies (Yes TLJ had jokes but did they land all that well??) You’ll like Phoebe Waller0Bridge’s comedic L3-37 droid too.
The question that is most assuredly on everyone’s minds: How is Alden as Solo? Was he trying to be Harrison Ford or does he set himself apart in the role? The answer is that it takes a while to adjust to Alden as the titular character that has always been Harrison Ford. Right from the beginning, with a lack of the traditional scroll, a different soundtrack and Alden as Han Solo it made the film very jarring in its’ difference from what we normally get in a Star Wars experience. In fact I would say that right from the beginning, the pacing is thrown off for the entire movie. Ehrenreich was better than I was expecting but, let’s face it, Harrison Ford is still Han Solo. With all his bravado and arrogance, Ford still made Solo like-able but this young Solo is insufferable at times.
It was fun to see Han’s first love interest in Emilia Clarke’s Qi’Ra and how they separate at the outset of the movie and later re-unite courtesy of Paul Bettany’s Dryden Vos. Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian is great, one of the best parts of the movie if I am being completely honest. You can see why rumors of a Land movie were being pushed recently (But I debunked those rumors in this article HERE). I’m also a fan of Woody Harrelson, and he was pretty good here, but not really a standout as much as you’d expect him to typically be in his screen parts. That said, he plays well off of Thandie Newton’s Val. Thandie most definitely pulls some of her Westworld experience for this film as this definitely plays like a western space adventure.
‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ is not a complete disaster of a film like you are undoubtedly hearing out there in social media land. There are some fun and cool moments but Ron Howard definitely played it safe. He also saves a lot for those other 2 outings that Alden is contracted for.
We’re splitting this one right down the middle at 5 / 10 Stars.