To put it bluntly, Solo: A Star Wars Story was the film that no one asked for, no one wanted and – with reports of production woes at every turn – no one had any real confidence in.
Most notably of said woes was the departure of original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller — the duo behind The LEGO Movie and 21 Jump Street — following a major creative disagreement with Lucasfilm that left the film in the hands of award-winning director, Ron Howard (a close friend of George Lucas). This left fans, understandably, worried and apprehensive about the quality of the film, especially when it was announced Howard would be conducting massive reshoots at a very late stage of production.
As one of the first films in the franchise to not include a single force-sensitive main character and trying to tell the back-story of one of the most iconic characters in cinema, it has a lot to prove. So, it is with a great amount of relief that I can honestly say, Solo certainly doesn’t disappoint. It has the makings of all our favourite Star Wars films; a snarky, lovable droid, riveting space battles and a fantastic soundtrack by Star Wars veteran, John Williams. That said, it’s definitely not your typical Star Wars flick – but then what else would you expect from a film about the galaxy’s greatest scoundrel?
Solo is a straight-up space western. In Solo’s mission to get his hands on a ship and rescue his love interest, he’s thrown into a long-winded heist job, filled with numerous betrayals and twists of fortune that leave you clinging to the edge of your seat.
However, the film’s make-or-break element is the performance of Han Solo himself, delivered by relative newcomer Alden Ehrenreich. Trying to fill the rather large shoes of Harrison Ford is a daunting prospect, whose casual, suave personality is what made Han Solo so memorable.
Unfortunately, Ehrenreich’s performance left a lot to be desired. Although he was charismatic and fun to watch, you couldn’t escape the feeling that every movement and action was heavily directed. It’s as though the executives on set were happy to green light this film, so long as they could ensure they would be getting an exact imitation of Harrison Ford. Especially when paired against such phenomenal actors as Emilia Clarke and Woody Harrelson, the experience gap is painfully obvious.
Clarke’s Qi’ra is a fascinating character, whose emotions and motives are hard to read throughout the film, and without giving too much away, it leaves you questioning what you thought you knew about her and the dark past that is constantly hinted at. Clarke’s performance is flawless and gives us yet another intriguing addition to the Star Wars universe.
However, it has to be said Han and Qi’ra’s romance definitely takes a backseat to the defining relationship of the film – Han and his Millennium Falcon. Solo is as much about the backstory of the heap-of-garbage-starship’s origin as it is about its titular character. It’s as if we’ve never seen her before; brand-spanking new, kitted out with a fresh coat of paint and an escape pod-shaped answer to the question – which we didn’t even know to ask – of what on earth those two front prongs are.
Verdict: Whilst it may lack the depth of previous Star Wars films, Solo: A Star Wars Story shows us a completely different side to a universe filled with Jedi and Sith, somehow making it even more exciting and dangerous.