Han Solo: A Star Wars Story Review

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So today marked the release of Han Solo: A Star Wars Story, and we were lucky enough to get some release day tickets. Although the theatre wasn’t exactly busy and there were a lot of empty seats which surprised me as Star Wars movies are generally held in high regard. It’s probably because it’s been so overshadowed by the recent success of The Avengers movie. But I digress. Let’s speak Solo, relatively spoiler free.

Han Solo: A Star Wars Story follows our favourite smuggler himself and his origin stories of how he became to be the number one smuggler and his record breaking Kessel Run. Played by Alden Ehrenreich, most notably know for his performance in Hail! Caesar, did a stellar job as a young Solo, often out-acting against his co-stars. Language, mannerisms just oozed the cockyness of Harrison Ford that we all loved. We’re given a little bit of a back-story of his time as a street rat on Corellia, longing to whisk his love interest Qi’Ra (Emilia Clarke) but that soon came to and end with a three years later transition.

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Since Disney has taken over the series, the EU (Extended Universe) canon stories have been chucked out to make way for Disney’s own version, which in part is true here. Solo was part of the Imperial Army for a bit, and according to EU canon, rose through the ranks as a skilled pilot and eventually left. Here, Solo has a run in with a couple of smugglers named Val (Thandie Thom) and Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and sees a chance to escape his mundane nobody life as an Imperial ground trooper. Although a slight change, it’s nice to see Disney sticking to some original content.

The movie from here pretty much follows the adventure of the bandit squad chasing after a big score of Coaxium, a valuable fuel that we’re told can power entire fleets with a few drops of the blue liquid into an engine, which we do eventually witness for ourselves. Character development through the story for the most part is pretty tight. They’re believable characters and at times I found myself lost in their performances. There are though some extremely questionable moments, like when Val and Beckett make out around a campfire like a couple of love sick teens, or the fact that a droid named L3-37 (Pheobe Waller-Bridge) could never quite land any of her jokes leaving the cinema in awkward silence. Even veteran actress Emilia Clarke who’s known for her amazing performance as The Mother of Dragons, failed somewhat during scenes where she had to play anything other than serious. On the most part though, the writers have done an incredible job following in the footsteps of already seen and developed characters.

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Saving graces to these hindering moments are the fact that Donald Glover’s iteration of Lando Calrissian was near perfect, and of course Chewie, the lovable teddy bear Wookie who is branded a beast by the Empire before Solo starts gurgling at him, which was a bit of a shock to hear. Who knew Solo could speak pretty fluent Wookie ay? Only to then revert back to the Queen’s English throughout the rest of the movie. Didn’t make much sense to me.

If I speak about the more technical side of movie making, the cinematography is quite dark in most places, giving it a kind of rough around the edges approach which works well here, seeing as the characters we’re watching aren’t really the good guys. Han Solo was never really a ‘good guy’. They’re criminals at the end of the day. And the film score, orchestral music hits all the right notes in all the right places.

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For what it’s worth, Han Solo: A Star Wars Story was a pretty simple tale which fills in ‘some’ of the gaps in the outlaw’s backstory, but failed to be brave. And by this there were no real risks taken. But being a fan of Star Wars and someone who has watched the films and read the books and even checked out a few of Marvel’s comics, it was nothing that I wasn’t already really expecting. Did I find it plain sailing because I knew about the Kessel Run and I knew about the Crimson Dawn and Han’s time with the Imperial Army? A couple of plot holes also shone through disrupting continuity of the movie, but none of it made this a bad film. And it was a darn sight better than The Last Jedi, but failed in the darkness appeal of Rogue One. Check it out for yourself, but be warned, if you’re a fan of Star Wars, don’t expect too much. Oh, and the worst thing of all… Disney dropped the iconic scroll for the chance to quickly get the movie started.

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