Movie Reviews: Solo: A Star Wars Story




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    Disney (2 hrs. 15 min.)
     During an adventure into a dark criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.
     Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Michael Kenneth Williams
Bottom Line:

Laurence Washington

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is the Star Wars movie nobody asked for. At least, I didn’t.

I’ll explain.

Having grown tried of a steady diet of the usual suspects, Luke Skywalker, Princes Leia, Darth Vader and the two droids R2-D2 and C-3PO, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (’16), was a welcome relief, and a satisfying entrée to the franchise. And it made me think, “Wouldn’t it would be a great to have more stand alone Star Wars movies?” After all, I’m sure there are other Star Wars adventures happening in a galaxy far, far, away.

Enter “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” The backstory of how lovable rogue Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich), his co-pilot, walking shag carpet Chewbacca, card sharp Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and of course the legendary Millennium Falcon (that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs) all got together.

Fast-forward 2 hours and 15 minutes later: I’m thinking, “Be careful what you wish for, because you might get it.”

Thirty minutes into the film, I became disappointed. The opening minutes offers more action than the law allows, punctuated with spectacular set pieces. No argument here. But I just couldn’t get into the film until the last 45 minutes after a script suddenly appeared. And when Oscar-winning director Ron Howard’s name appeared in the end credits, I couldn’t believe I just sat through a Ron Howard film. Howard’s films are usually spot on, and Oscar quality.

I found out later that Howard took over director duties two weeks before the film’s completion to salvage the project. As a result, there really wasn’t anything to invest in. There’s no one to root for. Unlike “Rogue One,” “Solo” doesn’t advance its storyline to connect with any other Star War film. “Solo” totally ignores that concept. So the audience never gets that “Ah Ha” moment they had been waiting for as in “Rogue One.”

OK, enough bitching and moaning. The film’s premise has Solo spending a good portion of the movie trying to reunite with his love interest Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) whom the pair became fatefully separated early in the film. Along the way he hooks up with Beckett, an outlaw who is in deep with a criminal underworld of smugglers, and of course Han meets Chewbacca.

“Solo” is a serviceable movie, but it has the Star Wars brand, so the audience expects a higher standard. Ehrenreich is fine as Han Solo, but there’s only one Harrison Ford. Ehrenreich lacks the sardonic grin and arrogance Ford stamped on the role. Glover is the film’s bright spot as Lando Calrissian, but it isn’t enough to bring the film to the level of previous Star War films. “Solo” is probably better than “Phantom Menace” (’99). If there were one wish that went along with these films, I would wish Disney wouldn’t think, “Well, it’s time to make a Star Wars movie. So let’s crank one out.”

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