DIRECTOR: Ron Howard
CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS!
The Star Wars Story that nobody asked for, but was is a story worth telling?
In short, NO.
Where to start? Indeed, where to start with a background prequel focusing on one of the most iconic Star Wars characters ever, taking the ageing Harrison Ford’s characters to, well not so far beyond the age that we first met him back in 1977.
Recast with actor who brings very little Ford with him, apart from a few well practice smiles and other expressions here and there, this is a reinterpretation of the character, in this case as a naive and wimpy version, maybe even soft, is not the part for Alden Ehrenreich.
The Character arch of Han Solo in the original trilogy was his redemption from a selfish, self-assured space pirate to a man who could recognise and fight for a cause bigger than himself. But according this haphazard prequel, he was already a big softy before her learns the harsh realities of life, only he doesn’t, not really.
He just learns to be a little more cynical and to smirk his way through every situation with his lucky die and everything turns out okay for him. Ehrenrieich done not bring an ounce of the gravitas or charisma of Harrison Ford, as this film, which had to be almost entirely re-shot with Ron Howard taking the helm after The Lego Movie directing due Chris Miller and Phil Lord where unceremoniously fired after “not getting it”, apparently, shoe horns as much of the token events of Solo’s pre-rebellion life into its two and bit hour run time.
Ron Howard; A few hits and plenty of misses. Willow (1988) springs to mind. Not only was Willow Lucas’ attempt to begin and new fantasy trilogy after the Star Wars Saga was completed, it was micro directed by George Lucas as Ron Howard took the credit. And this has a lot of the hallmarks of Willow.
In short; A poor mans Star Wars. Hammy scripting and at times acting, the story is all over the place, with shallow characterisations, poor exposition, haphazard pacing and the action is actually quite hard to follow. Just please, give us ONE decent shot of the Millennium Falcon that we can keep up with and actually see, especially as it has been altered so much from the icon version that we all love. Maybe we’re getting bored of the same ship after 40 years? Maybe we all need to go out and by a new version?
Instead everything of interest is speeding across the screen and the boring stuff is left to linger. And there was a level of boredom here. Incredibly predictable plotting, simply going through the motions of a no stakes story. But it does feel as if they shoehorned a larger narrative in there, with introduction in the final act of the rebellion and an old villain returns with a new legs, but by the time what should have been an earth shattering twist appeared, it wasn’t really interested, especially if you know the The Clone Wars or Rebels.
One major plus note though, Donald Glover aced Lando Calrissian, to such an extant that I wish this movie was actually called Lando: A Star War Story rather than Solo, because there’s no doubt that Glover brought so much more Billy Dee Williams and built on it, than Ehrenreich did for Ford’s.
As well as the subtle and well conceived plotting around Lando’s female droid, L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) who may well be the ‘Old girl’ referred to by both Han and Lando during in the original trilogy when they speak to the Falcon, whilst shining a light on the deliberately ambiguous nature of droids in the Star Wars universe. In short; are they sentient or not? But this is not Star Trek so we do not really need an answer to that… do we?
Overall, I want to say that this was missed opportunity but in truth, it was not. It was waste of time. A story that did not need to be told with script that did not know what say. Clearly, they were aiming for a Guardians Of The Galaxy (2015), unaware that the secret of that surprise success was that it tapped in to the retro Star Wars vibe by NOT being Star Wars. And with little expectations.
Here they were playing with one of the biggest guns in modern film history and in my opinion, it blew up in there faces.