9.5/10 – A Wild, Action-packed and Emotional Ride Through the Star Wars Criminal Underworld
Through multiple viewings, I grinned and guffawed (like an idiot) at all my favorite moments with Han and Chewie.
Every time I stepped into the lobby afterward, I was elated about young Han, Chewie and Lando, and all the other new (badass) characters we now know.
After each trip to the theater, I walked out into the parking lot with a sense of wonderment, looking up at the stars, thinking of the Falcon on the Kessel Run, and all the stories that have been and have yet to be told in this universe.
I thought again and again, this is Star Wars.
If that sounds a little over the top for you, #sorrynotsorry. I’ve always had this sort of weird high after seeing a truly enjoyable film and with Star Wars, it’s usually increased tenfold. My face still lights up just thinking about it.
After seeing Solo: A Star Wars Story six times in the movie theater (the most I’ve ever seen a single film while in theaters), I was and am still impressed at the chameleon-like storytelling the Kasdans (Lawrence and John) and Ron Howard have gifted us.
And here’s why.
It’s a film that’s pure entertainment, yet it’s a film that adds so much more to the Star Wars universe. It has comedic moments, but it doesn’t shy away from touching on more serious and heartfelt experiences. Sure, there are plenty of moments of fanservice (I’m thinking about that nod to Aurra Sing), but new fans aren’t left behind, confused by what they’re watching.
I want more movies like this one from Lucasfilm because, to me, it’s a refreshing experience. Solo is a Star Wars story that doesn’t directly focus on the Force or Jedi or Sith, and it’s all the better for it, especially if this fandom wants a variety of stories to be told on the big screen.
Flashback to me as a young girl seeing the original trilogy. To be completely honest, I was not always that interested in Han and never really felt drawn to his story. He was a smuggler turned rebel. It was a woman who brought him into the cause and he didn’t seem that fully invested in the Rebellion, at least from a certain point of view.
Yeah, yeah, I know my complaints were a bit harsh, but don’t worry, I appreciate Han for what he is, but I just couldn’t really connect with his character.
That is, until Solo.
It gave me and so many other fans the chance to see Han in a different light, to see him before the years of smuggling, before Luke and Leia, to see where he came from and how he came to be the man with the Millennium Falcon.
And Alden Ehrenreich nails his performance. He’s not Han from the OT. It’s not seeing a Harrison Ford impersonator merely acting like the smuggler. He’s the young kid yearning to be amongst the stars, free from Coreilla, on his own ship and in charge of his own life.
It’s Han on his way to becoming Solo and Ehrenreich gets it, down to the most subtle of gestures. From that little grin when he knows something’s up to his the light in his eyes when he first enters the Falcon’s cockpit to the moment the Kessel Run begins with all the little scenes in between, he IS Han Solo.
Chewie and Lando, the other two original characters that appear in this film, are also terrifically written and adeptly portrayed by Joonas Suotamo and Donald Glover, respectively. Lando is Lando, to put it simply, and the playful animosity between him and Han is incredibly well done. Even though Lando is an expert at smooth talking and at playing sabacc, Han sees right through Lando’s entire act. But Lando is not really a bad guy, like several of the other characters in the film, and his interactions with his droid co-pilot, L3-47, are proof enough.
Though to be truthful, the various buddy moments between Chewie and Han are the most satisfying to watch. And not because they are funny, but because you can tell that in each of those instants, Chewie sees a side to Han that shows he’s not just a one-dimensional criminal, thief or wannabe outlaw. And in the end, you know that Chewie’s decision to travel with Han instead of going off on his own is a willful one.
And then there’s Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), Han’s love interest, who is a bit of an enigma by the end of the movie. Some say she’s a femme fatale, others say she’s power hungry, but I say that she is more complex than that. You tend to see her from Han’s perspective, which is biased and not a reliable way to understand her character so I encourage you to read Star Wars: Most Wanted by Rae Carson to get a better feel for her motives and personality.
Other than that little cameo that broke the fandom and the real reveal of Enfys Nest, I can’t say enough about the rest of the supporting cast. They are pure gold. Despite Beckett (Woody Harrelson) having some of the best zingers, it’s his final scenes with Han that touched me the most. Rio and Val literally shine when they’re on screen and L3 (who we now know is a part of the Falcon itself) is a true rebel. And, Dreyden (Paul Bettany) gives Crimson Dawn that villainous edge needed to make Qi’ra’s caution around him believable. It’s clear the entire cast gels well together and it makes the movie that much more entertaining.
Bradford Young’s beautiful cinematography, the touching score from John Williams and John Powell, the fast-paced screenplay by father-son duo Lawrence and Jon Kasdan, and all of it under the direction of film veteran Ron Howard… this team truly made a magnificent film and I’m confident it will become a cult favorite in years to come, despite it’s “underwhelming” (which I say with a grain of salt) run at the box office.
I’ll be adding Solo to my own collection and will watch it often. You should, too, or at least rent it. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is available via Digital Download (HD/4K Ultra HD) on September 14 and DVD/Blu-Ray/On-Demand/Ultra 4K HD on September 25.