Oh, yes, I was among those who flocked to the theaters during opening weekend of Solo: A Star Wars Story. While I willingly admit I went in with moderate expectations, I came out pleasantly surprised at how well this backstory was designed and orchestrated thanks to the genius of Ron Howard and his crew.
Disclaimer: I attended as a guest of Angie from Disney Parents, who was provided complimentary tickets by the Disney Parks Blog in exchange for a review. However, the opinions in this post are 100% mine and mine alone.
Solo: A Story Wars Story
Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo befriends his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and meets the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes.
As noted above, I willingly admit that I went into the movie with moderate expectations. Why? Well, between the change in direction so far into the project and having the story reaching way back into the saga, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Where in the timeline would this movie fit? What connection would it have with the rest of the story? Can they do a movie without a Skywalker? Will there be a light saber duel involved? With whom? What special effects were we going to see?
Now, don’t confuse my moderate expectations with my excitement. I was still eager and ready to see this backstory played out. Han has actually been one of my favorite characters throughout the entire series (yes, I’m still healing from The Force Awakens).
So, what is the movie about…
As expected, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a heist movie ~ a good heist movie. It’s not a true coming of age story or have a distinct moral takeaway, in my opinion. It doesn’t rely on tremendous special effects to draw attention. The story just literally follows the life of an outlaw. It tells the story of Han’s encounters and relationships, as well as drops a few curious and key pieces into the Star Wars puzzle for us.
We meet Han as a teen already pulled into a life of crime in order to survive. The difference between him and the other kids in his situation is that he has aspirations. He wants to become something, a pilot. Unfortunately, that’s not feasible under his current conditions. He ultimately finds a chance to break away and attempts, with every fiber of his being, to make that dream come true. Along the way, of course, his inabilty to harnass his own independent thinking seems to land him in pretty dire situations more often than not.
What I liked about the movie…
I loved that the story did not take us back to Han’s birth. It wasn’t pertinent and would have been too extraneous. Instead, it brings us back to the earliest, most relevant moment that opened the door to his independence.
I love how the movie is truly about Han. It’s about his relationships, his big breaks, his true friendships and his fascination with the Millennium Falcon. While there are obviously other important characters in the film, the story focuses on Han’s development and HIS adventure. It wasn’t about the Empire, though it was mentioned in the background. It wasn’t about good versus evil, per se, or have anything to do with the Skywalker soap opera. The movie wasn’t even about Lando or Chewie. No, it told us the story of a young man who escaped captivity and learned to survive on his own. It’s about a man and his relationship with love, trust, friendship, work and his ship.
Limited emphasis on special effects
I love how they didn’t highlight the special effects in this episode. While they were there, (I mean, we are dealing with a Star Wars film), it was more raw and focused on the characters and relationships. The sets weren’t even that elaborate or dramatic, which allowed us the opportunity to see the story rather than be distracted by the background.
Since I knew my family would be seeing the film in the near future, I very much appreciated the fact that this movie was written with minimal profanity. There were a few, what some would call minor, curse words, but there were no profane tirades in the film. Thankfully, there was no blatant sexual content except for a few kissing scenes, a few a little more intense than the others. There was definitely an innuendo or two. However, all in all, I loved that I didn’t feel I would have to ask my youngest to cover his eyes at all. Thank you, Ron Howard!
Degree of Violence
With regard to violence, this movie was certainly one of the least gory among the episodes. Many times, if I remember correctly, the scene was cut before anything could be seen. Of course, that doesn’t mean there weren’t battles or intense skirmishes. It wouldn’t be a Star Wars movie, otherwise. However, there were no pools of blood or spewing of guts. There were no visible decapitations, although Chewbacca does dismember someone. Mind you, it was done as neatly as possible…if that even makes any sense.
Characters and Portrayals.
I love how each character is defined independently. In this film, we have thieves, gamblers, risk takers and survivors. There are those clearly out for power, those out for the benefit of others in a Robin Hood style and still those just trying to find the best way possible to get to where they ultimately want to go. The creative team for Solo: A Star Wars Story did a fabulous job defining each of those individual roles and giving us the details we needed to see each character as its own separate entity. No one was like the other, though they all shared a common goal of survival.
Now, when comparing some of the roles to those portrayed by other actors in the original episodes, I think both the casting department and the actors did a tremendous job making our favorite characters identifiable on the screen. The roles translated well and, to my surprise, were fairly synonymous with their older counterparts. Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover captured the mannerisms and personalities that we know and love in the original Han and Lando (Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams, as if you didn’t know).
What I didn’t like about this movie…
To be honest, there isn’t much. If anything, I would have wanted a little more from Qi’ra’s character, but I have a feeling those questions will be answered in future films. Perhaps a little more behind the story of the Wookies would have been nice, but I still loved what was shared and how much of a role Chewie had in this episode.
Is it worth seeing?
I have no idea where the original creative team initially intended to take this film. However, I think Ron Howard and his crew did a brilliant job cultivating the final product. Famous puzzle pieces were strategically dropped into place without saturating the film in special effects or drama. There were glimpses of the other films injected the audience being inundated. Not to mention, Paul Bettany was stupendous as Dryden Vos and the surprise cameo at the end was executed perfectly (I’ll keep that a secret at least). The film intentionally leaves us with questions so that we literally crave the next installment.
Now, this film may not have the dynamic effect the other recent episodes had on the audience. Nonetheless, Solo: A Star Wars Story does contribute circumstantial elements to the complete story-line. We now know how Han and Chewie became buddies, as well as the circumstances under which Han and Lando met. We have an understanding of why Han is the way he is. The tale of the Millennium Falcon has not been told. In essence, this latest addition to the legendary saga does successfully paint the backstory for one of our favorite galactic outlaws and unexpected heroes and excites us to see where this saga will take us next.
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You can visit the official SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY site at: http://www.starwars.com/films/solo