In a galaxy far, far away… from what we are used to in “Star Wars”.
Do you remember how we all gasped in awe when Kylo “Whiner” Ren transfixed his father, right in front of poor Chewie?
Although it was a final goodbye to Harrison Ford and his adventure with the saga, it wasn’t the end for Han Solo. “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is a sometimes hideous and dumb, yet fairly entertaining addition to “Star Wars”, which also sustains Solo as an inherent part of the universe.
And to be fair with you, my dear readers, this article WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS.
What’s the “Story” about?
That’s a good question. The usual approach – in my opinion rather justified – is that films like “Solo: A Star Wars Story” should aim at explaining the origins of a protagonist. I might be biased here, but even the opening scene of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” signals an unskilled screenwriter at work. If not for the previous films, Han’s story would begin as if the first half of the film was cut in the post prod. The action begins straightaway, with traces of the future plot – Han was in love before he met Leia. That’s what we need to know.
Obviously, things didn’t go as planned. The two are separated and the entire screen time left is devoted to Han dreaming of life with his second half.
In the meantime, Solo embarks on a journey, which – for the most part – feels like a mission from “The Old Republic”, rather than a film, which we all expected to be a tribute to Han. And, as you will find out in the next part of this article, it’s a highly flawed tribute.
The choices concerning some of the characters were a letdown
“Star Wars” (a middle finger to the prequel haters) used to be bursting with stunning creatures and mystical produces of Lucas Arts’ conjoint efforts. Both as a kid and as an adult, I was flabbergasted by the plethora of characters and the variety of races, which inhabited the vast galaxy. This also works in “Solo: A Star Wars Story” – at least at some level. The very beginning showcases a caterpillar alien called Lady Proxima, which brings the good times of Jabba the Hutt to mind. And there is plenty more to cherish throughout the film.
However, the writers made a lot of terrible decisions story-wise. Here’s an example.
Early in the film, we get to know the pack led by an outlaw called Tobias Beckett (Wood Harrelson in a typical “Woody Harrelson” kind of role). By his side we see a valkyrie-type Val (Thandie Newton) and Rio, an ape-looking alien. In an awkward “scheme of things” offered by the script, both of them – despite their undeniable charm – are swiftly killed off. Poof, gone.
That was the first big disappointment in Howard’s film to me. Let me make a parallel here to the first “Star Wars Story” – “Rogue One”. Although it wasn’t flawless either, Gareth Edwards was a ballsy director, who sacrificed the good old happy ending in order to remain faithful to “what should have happened“. These characters, the rebels, who embarked on the mission impossible, simply had to die. There was no other ending that would serve justice. That being said, the death of Rio and Val was a complete waste of characters, who could both bring a lot to the table.
(…) The writers made a lot of terrible decisions story-wise.
Never did a “Star Wars” movie suffer from a bland antagonist
Topping such icons like Darth Vader or Senator Palpatine is a lost cause. “Star Wars” was masterfully built on the dark side and its retinue of bounty hunters and The Empire’s mercenaries. The Jedi were cool, but it’s the steady breathing and a dark cape that became the symbols of the saga.
Frankly, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is the first film in this universe, which lacks a menacing antagonist. To be honest, it lacks any kind of antagonist. And, again, it’s all the fault of Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan, the authors of the script.
You see, Paul Bettany’s Dryden Vos had a tremendous potential. An owner of an “upscale” organization, who is introduced to us while committing a cold-blooded murder, sounds like a good material, doesn’t it? Furthermore, the design of the character is equally impeccable, giving the vibes of a vampire with serpent eyes and mysterious scars all over his face.
All of that is wasted on literally two scenes. All of that character design and Bettany’s charisma wasted on two dragged-out scenes. It does ring a bell. And – paradoxically – this “bell” makes a cameo appearance in the very end of the film.
And the biggest failure – the female droid L3
When “The Last Jedi” introduced Rose, I couldn’t help, but felt that this whole franchise got a bit out of control under Disney’s reign. It was a useless character, forcibly existing in the film that begged to “include everybody”.
But if Rose was a letdown, then L3, the robot owned by Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), is a disaster. It’s difficult to understand whether it should be interpreted as an edgy feminist joke (truly unfunny though) or a pitiful, misplaced manifesto of the modern women emancipation. L3’s only reason to star in “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is to scream anti-communist slogans towards other droids and trying to “insert” humanity in a stack of cables and steel.
The result is character, which makes you cringe like nobody ever did in “Star Wars”. Even Jar Jar Binks was more tolerable than L3 to me.
Having said all that, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is still an enjoyable blockbuster
Exactly. If you look at “Solo: A Star Wars Story” in terms of a film, it’s probably on par with “The Phantom Menace” as the worst in the whole saga. It’s chaotic, it’s predictable and badly written.
However, as a blockbuster, it’s a pure entertainment. Alden Ehrenreich, whom I feared for the most, carried the weight of Ford’s legacy in a confident manner. His take on Solo is both fresh and faithful to the original character. There is an indisputable charm in him, as he is much more like the Han we know from “A New Hope”.
Harrelson was also a fantastic choice. Even when he basically plays himself, he was still a lot better of a conman than Benicio Del Toro’s weird figure from “The Last Jedi”. So was Glover, whose take on Lando was joyfully over-the-top. Emilia Clarke handled her role quite well too, although there were some moments when she was falling into a Padme-sque kind of “Star Wars” female character.
All in all, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” was enjoyable enough for me to say that I do not regret seeing it. It is far from what I grew up with (which is not necessarily a bad thing), much closer to a generic blockbuster than Lucas’ galactic tale. Maybe that’s the way Disney sees the saga in the future. If so, we might need to adapt. Or show the company how much we dislike the idea by flopping “Solo: A Star Wars Story” at the box office.