Like a Millennium Falcon without its navigation computer, Solo just doesn’t know where it wants to go.
Production issues aside, the Star Wars/Disney empire continues to trudge onwards towards the world’s wallets with Solo: A Star Wars Story…but this time, Disney’s barrage of AT-AT Walkers seemed to have tripped up. Though more of a Luke fan myself, I was genuinely excited to hear when Solo was announced, as there was a huge scope for fun, excitement and a general ‘Indiana Jones’-style caper which would have charmed even the most cynical cinema-goer. So, it’s with great disappointment that Solo falls at nearly every hurdle and though a relatively well-made film, it doesn’t add anything to series.
There’s clever gags and comedic moments which don’t mix well with rather heavy underlying themes, and a general lack of imagination outside of the early big train action scene. You can feel the influence of Guardians of the Galaxy throughout (there’s even a Rocket Raccoon-alike) and in a bizarre twist, Marvels’ take on Star Wars outdoes Lucasfilm at its own game. With a universe of exciting locales to jump around in, Solo’s locations don’t add anything, most are generic, and you’ll have seen them before in many other sci-fi films. Despite this, Solo looks good if a bit grimy – the special effects are top-notch, cinematography is reasonable, and the music is workmanlike in application with occasional flurries of emotion. The train scene at the start is compelling and well thought-out, with a great sense of tension, but the latter ‘big’ moments are of diminishing returns in both originality and tension.
The script methodically ticks off a lot of back story – Solo’s name, dashboard dice, his blaster, outfit, Chewie, and that’s about it. The narrative treads water and focuses on a somewhat unbelievable romance for its core, but even worse than that it doesn’t dare to make Han unlikeable or do anything particularly heinous, meaning there’s no arc for him – he’s pre-packaged as the ‘good guy’ whose flaw is being a bit rough around the edges. You could argue they were holding off this character progression for the next film, but it was needed here. On top of the structure, there’s some terrible immersion-ruining dialogue which although few and far between, felt amateurish and immediately recalled what Harrison Ford told George Lucas back on the original films “You can type this shit, but you can’t say it!”.
One of the greatest shames is that the film’s break-out performance from Donald Glover doesn’t get enough time to shine, and when he’s on screen it’s very apparent who can and can’t entice the audience with charisma, charm and wit. Alden Ehrenreich tries his best but isn’t given any demanding scenes, and to be fair, balancing imitating Ford with an original spin on it is a nigh-impossible task for most actors. Woody Harrelson puts in a decent performance and gets more moments to shine as the grizzled mentor, while Phoebe Waller-Bridge has a few killer scenes with her freedom-fighting droid L3-37. The less said about Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra the better, but suffice to say, in comparing love interests, Carrie Fisher’s Leia has more fire, energy and charm in just one of her hair buns.
It baffles me that was so much of a desire to film this particularly take on the character, with Lawrence Kasdan, acclaimed Star Wars/Indy scribe, pushing heavily for Disney to make his script. The film doesn’t really have anything new, interesting or exciting to say, which, given the incredible universe and set of iconic characters it has to play with, is just a bit sad. Time to get Marvel on board to get this piece of junk back on course to hyperspace and fun-filled escapades.