Solo: A Star Wars Story is an unnecessary addition in the Star Wars saga, as it is easily the weakest entry in the franchise and has the sole purpose of providing answers to meritless questions that die-hard fans may have. The film’s misguided direction and behind the scenes drama clearly lead to the film being painfully average, and leaving much, much more to be desired.
Originally Lord and Miller, the acclaimed directors of 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie, were set to direct, but after departing due to creative differences with Disney, the reigns were given over to Ron Howard with a film that was mainly already shot. Unfortunately for us, the film had to be (almost) completely reshot and while one can only speculate what that film could have been, it’s clear that it most likely had a lot of fun energy that got completely discarded for the sake of an average plot. Howard has had some acclaimed successes throughout his career, but there are plenty of terrible films littered throughout as well. Howard has successfully made Solo: A Star Wars Story one of the most average entries in his career. The direction is bland, predictable, and missing all the fun energy that a Han Solo standalone movie should possess.
Similar to complaints with the direction, the film is utterly average. The script feels like it captured the significance of the friendship between Chewbacca and Han, but the humor between the two or in the film in general, is incredibly lacking. The film feels like a ton of humor has been excluded from the final cut, and the remaining jokes that made it into the film misfire 90% of the time. The film is a ‘paint by numbers’ sci-fi adventure film that happens to include the beloved titular character, and that’s about it. Solo: A Star Wars Story has a cheap story that was presumably only held together by the comedy Lord and Miller had the actors improvise, but when Howard took over, the studio stripped all the humor away and kept just the bare-bones that Lawrence Kasdan wrote.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The casting in this film has been under scrutiny since being originally announced, and let’s just get this right out of the way...compared to every category here, the casting is dead on. While it was a little difficult to see prior to this film’s release, Alden Ehrenreich is most definitely the perfect fit for the young version of Han Solo. His actions, his charisma, and his smart-assery is stunning within the role, and he’s not the only one. Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian is one hundred percent the stand out in this movie, as he embodies the character flawlessly, and is practically a clone of Billy Dee Williams’ Lando. The new characters introduced don’t succeed as well, beyond the ones that stick around for the entire showtime. But, the ones introduced early along have no connection with the audience so their “shocking” death scenes really can’t trigger any kind of emotion. The villain, Dryden Voss, works rather well in the context of the movie, as he’s not a super villain as much as just a man who will stop at nothing to complete his orders from a mysterious higher authority. His makeup gives signs of abuse at some point within his lifetime and brings into question how they came about. Chewbacca for the first time ever is not being portrayed by Peter Mayhew, instead by a newcomer to the Star Wars universe and while there is a definitive difference between the two’s performances, the new Chewbacca really digs deep into the newly developed friendship between Solo and himself. Lastly, Emilia Clarke and Woody Harrelson give perfectly capable performances, but among company, their characters fade into the background easily. That is… until they’re brought back into center frame.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Easily one of the least memorable scores in Star Wars history, the film recycles past scores while bringing in minimal segments of originality in disappointing fashion. It’s John Powell’s first Star Wars movie and maybe he should stay away from the franchise from here on out because Powell’s missguided composing makes me long for literally any other score from the Star Wars universe. While I don’t expect any composer to be John Williams, I can always hope for something relatively original with a Star Wars twist. Beyond the score, the sound effects sound like classic Star Wars. They work just fine and bring about a lot of fanfare sound effects that are thrown into every other scene or so.
The visuals in Solo… were amazing, even having moments of what seemed like puppetry thrown in to be reminiscent of the beloved originals. Although the visuals were not as striking as they have been in the most recent entries, they also contained a lot more subtlety than the others. The makeup design for the villain in the film has a simple finesse to it, but brings a lot of curiosities about how his facial features became the way they are. The Millenium Falcon is back of course, and with Han being the star, so should the Falcon be - yet the Falcon feels forgotten about visually. It functions, but the visual design of the Falcon at Lando’s helm and then Solo’s helm never quite captures the realistic nature that Abrams managed to create in The Force Awakens. Last but not least is the costume design, which provided the characters we all love with their familiar attires and our new characters with rather similar outfits as well - the costumes serve their purpose but never really wow.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is the beginning of the official fatigue that the Star Wars name is suffering from. A lack of creativity and dwindling expectations caused “Solo..” to be even less of the film it should have been. Missing the humor that Solo should possess as a character, while retaining the average story that laid beneath it all for Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando to have a singular adventure. The wonderful casting deserved a much more polished script than what the final cut got and it’d be absolutely fantastic to see what the almost complete ‘Lord and Miller’ cut would look like. The Ron Howard cut of the film is not a necessary addition to the lore, nor is it one we particularly wanted.