When it was announced that everyone’s favorite intergalactic smuggler would be getting his own film, I was a tad skeptical. I believed that it was just an unnecessary cash grab by Disney, trying to make the most out of the rights they now own. As it turns out, that is exactly what this is, but fortunately, it’s a lot of fun too.
Taking place between the events of “Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” Solo follows the adventures of young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and his Wookiee friend, Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), as they embark on a criminal heist in the depths of the underworld.
Truth be told, this film turned out far better than it deserved to. Originally, directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were set to film “Solo,” but were fired over “creative differences.” That’s when director Ron Howard came into play and re-shot over half of the film. Unfortunately, this seemed to effect the pacing, tone, and general direction of the finished product. The film begins extremely clunky and it feels as if the story is trying to resolve itself, which it eventually does about a half hour in, but unfortunately, that’s a huge chunk of mediocrity to endure.
Fortunately, there are a lot of good aspects to the film once it finds its footing. The meeting of Solo and Chewbacca is nearly perfect, setting up one of the most iconic bromances in cinema history. There are also several great performances and some truly terrific pieces of music that hearken back to the original Star Wars films, making this adventure feel a little bit more familiar.
Alden Ehrenreich was given an impossible task, which was to convince audiences that he is a believable Han Solo, a role which was immortalized by Harrison Ford over the course of four decades. Fortunately, Ehrenreich does an adequate job. Although he never perfectly captures Ford’s performance, he brings enough of his own charisma to the character that he makes it his own, which is probably better than trying to fill those shoes. There are moments, though few, where I genuinely believed Ehrenreich passed as a young Solo, and those moments were fantastic.
Perhaps the actor who deserves the most praise is Donald Glover for his performance as classy smuggler Lando Calrissian, originally played by Billy Dee Williams. Glover positively shines as the younger version of the character by bringing style, humor, and loads of charm. While watching Glover effortlessly capture the spirit of Lando’s character, it disappointed me as to why he didn’t get the spin-off film, or at least why he wasn’t included in more of this one. With any luck, we will see Glover return to a galaxy far, far away very soon.
The rest of the cast did a fine job, but I unfortunately don’t remember much of them. The characters I did enjoy, such as John Favreua’s Rio or Paul Bettany’s Dryden Vos, were in the film far too infrequently to make any long-lasting impressions. Woody Harrelson’s Beckett was interesting enough, but bland in comparison to other roles the actor has portrayed over the years. As was the case for “Rogue One”, “Solo” has too many new interesting characters and not enough time to flesh them out effectively.
“Solo” is by no means perfect, and it doesn’t really offer anything new or mind-blowing to the Star Wars canon, but it is at least a fun way to spend a few hours. The good news about average first installments is that it leaves plenty of room for improvement in any potential sequel, something that I am not opposed to seeing. After a troubled production, a change of directors, and an impossible role to fill, “Solo” manages to be entertaining and hit all the right notes, as long as you’re not paying too much attention.