Shot in the Dark
“Never tell me the odds” is a famous quote said by Han Solo in the original Star Wars trilogy. It also appears to be Disney’s attitude towards fans saying that a Han Solo standalone movie would be unnecessary and not be any good. Solo: A Star Wars Story does nothing to justify its existence other than to make money based off the label of being a Star Wars movie. It relies too much on references, moments, and callbacks rather than crafting a cohesive narrative or interesting character study. Even with one or two cool action scenes here and there and some decent portrayals, Solo is ultimately a let down in this new generation of films.
I wouldn’t classify this movie as an origin story for Han Solo, but rather a movie that shows how he got some of things that make him recognizable to fans. You learn how he got his name, blaster, ship, and other small things that are essentially inconsequential to the character that we know and respect from the original movies. He doesn’t really go through any sort of arc in the movie that help us understand how he got to where he was in A New Hope. It is simply a space adventure that happens to feature a character we know from the Star Wars universe.
Alden Ehrenreich does a fine job of portraying a younger Han Solo, but I never really felt like this is the same character I knew. Ehrenreich definitely has the mannerisms, wit, and arrogance to portray Han Solo, but the movie never shows any growth or personality to him that make him who he is. I understand that some people are not the same when they were younger as they are now, but it seemed as if this was a rebooted version of Han Solo rather than an extension of what Harrison Ford had done. Nothing new is added or revealed that really takes away from the Han I knew in the originals, but at the same time there is no arc or challenge he really has to overcome in this film that we haven’t already seen before.
The supporting cast does a decent enough job. Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian is easily a standout providing the right amount of swagger and charisma you would expect. He really feels like an extension of who Lando was in Empire even though he is notably different in this film. Woody Harrelson does well as Han’s mentor/smuggler friend and Emilia Clarke is just okay as Han’s childhood friend/love interest. Chewbacca is given more to do than in other Star Wars films, and the dynamic between Han and him is perfect and one of the aspects that hold the film on its shaky foundation. You can’t help but smile when you see these two together and the chemistry still remains endearing.
The movie trudges along from start to finish, barely providing anything exciting or worthwhile to be watching. The pacing is really slow during the first half of the movie, two action scenes happen and then it slows back down. I have never been bored during a Star Wars film, but Solo has managed to break that streak. There was nothing anchoring this movie for me to keep me invested and it never makes a reason to justify why Disney decided to tell this story.
The movie does not take a single risk with its storytelling or characters. Every “twist” can be seen way far in advance and nothing surprises. Even though The Last Jedi was a very divisive Star Wars movie, at least it took risks whether people liked them or not. The movie does nothing interesting with Han, Chewie, or any of the characters that you would not expect there to be. There is no attempt to flesh out the characters and learn why they are the way that they are, or provide anything exciting.
The excitement comes from a few scattered action sequences within a bland story. They mainly happen just for the sake of it and have no real stakes or consequences. The one scene with the Millennium Falcon teased in the trailers is easily the best part of the movie, and provides enough nostalgia and elevation after a whole bunch of nonsense. Other than that though, I can’t really remember much action happening in the movie which is really a shame as it is much needed.
I went into this film with low expectations and still came out dissatisfied. If you’re the type of fan who has been asking questions of how Han Solo got his blaster, or why the Millennium Falcon looks the way it does then this is the film for you. But even then those moments feel slapped together rather than something that adds weight to the character or the mythology of Star Wars. It mainly exists so the fans can be sprinkled with nostalgia due to the Star Wars label.
In the end, Solo: A Star Wars Story does little for the franchise and is easily forgettable. It merely features a character resembling Han Solo and how he got his stuff. The heist the movie frames itself around is uninteresting and just trudges along to its expected twists and turns. Some saving graces come from the interactions between key characters and one standout space sequence, but that alone can not make a movie. There is no “story” to tell, just teeny moments of fan service that really aren’t that satisfying. Disney needs to take a hard look at the potential Star Wars has because there is definitely other tales to tell that are far more interesting and compelling than Solo could barely provide.
Check out my other Star Wars review as well: