Is Solo: A Star Wars Story a good addition to the Star Wars franchise? We break it down in this spoiler free review.
A stand alone Han Solo prequel movie was always going to be a hard sell. Han Solo is one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars universe. He’s a character that needs no introduction. He is, quite simply, a legend.
Han came into the original trilogy fully formed and has become a larger than life figure. It’s for this reason that a film exploring his origins was an odd choice. To succeed, the film was required to capitalise on fan nostalgia without devaluing the character. So does Solo hit the mark, or are we seeing another misfire?
Prequel fatigue once again rears its ugly head
My thoughts on prequels are typically less than favourable, as noted in my article ‘Is Star Trek a dying franchise?’. I’m much more keen to see a story move forward then fill in some back story.
Before going into Solo, I had my list of Han Solo greatest hits that I expected to see, a list that included Kessel Run, Lando losing the infamous bet, Solo getting into debt with Jabba the Hut, and of course the infamous golden dice we saw in Last Jedi.
If you have a similar list then it should come as no surprise that the film contains all but one of those things, in what is essentially an intergalactic heist film.
The problem is that much of what is captured would probably work just as well – if not better – with brand new characters. Being a prequel means that the stakes are lower. We know that anyone who appears later on makes it out and that automatically cheapens the experience.
If you’re going to do a prequel, then please add in some sort of reveal that will put a new spin on how we perceive what inevitably comes later.
Is this the Han we know and love?
The big question on everyone’s lips is whether or not Alden Ehrenreich succeeds in being the Han Solo we know and love.
There are definitely moments when I totally buy that he has the right look and voice, but then other scenes when I feel like I’m watching a poor imitation.
Ehrenreich just doesn’t have the same charm that the character needs and I suspect few actors out there would have faired much better.
Too much fan service or not enough?
It’s paradoxical, but Solo’s greatest achievement is perhaps also its biggest weakness. In much the same way as Rogue One before it, I’m not convinced that Solo works without the context of it being a Star Wars nostalgia film.
Where the film shines is in its throwbacks to pre-existing characters, places and moments we’d heard about in dialogue snippets. If you’re a fan then the chances are your eyes will light up like a Christmas tree in certain scenes. The problem is that if you strip away all those things, you’re left with a fairly generic film, and one that probably wouldn’t be very marketable.
Visually this is everything you would expect from a Star Wars film. The CGI is on point, the costumes and set pieces are fairly solid and there is that retro feel that we all crave and never got from the prequel trilogy. I can’t say that I ever felt that I was on the edge of my seat, but I did enjoy the ride.
What about Han’s crew?
Woody Harrelson is here doing his best Yondu impersonation. One of my fellow cinema goers actually thought it was the same actor. Paint him blue and give him a magic arrow and we’re done.
Donald Glover is about as close to Lando as I think we could get.
Emilia Clarke is okay. She’s the love interest the film needs, but unfortunately her character is a little bland.
Chewie is of course the loveable Wookie you remember.
The rest of the supporting cast is best left as a surprise for after you’ve seen the film and any discussion would only risk hindering your enjoyment.
Special shout out goes to Paul Bettany, who is his usual charming self, this time playing an antagonist character.
So does Digital Fox recommend this one?
If you are one of those people that can’t bear to see Solo being played by another actor, then give the film a miss. You won’t miss out on much.
If you’re not that kind of human, head down to the cinema and give it a go. Expect a good space heist adventure but not a great one. Who knows, there may be one or two surprises that you don’t see coming.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is a safe adventure that doesn’t take any risks or subvert expectations, so if The Last Jedi (a film that did take risks for better or worse) rubbed you the wrong way, then this might be the Star Wars movie you’re looking for.
If you’ve seen Solo and want more intergalactic adventures, be sure to check out our top ten obscure space adventures.