Review: Solo – A Star Wars Story


David Auth

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” began showing on screens this Memorial Day weekend, yet it is not seeing the original box office numbers that were expected of the movie. Entering as Disney’s fourth Star Wars movie since buying Lucas Films back in October of 2012, it is the second in the “Anthology” series, which is being used to tell new stories not related to the Skywalker storyline.

The film was originally expected to bring in $130-150 million during its opening weekend but is projected to barely make it past $101 million. Many fans and critics are citing the the lackluster marketing done for the movie for its massive box-office flop. The first trailer for “Solo” was released just four months before the movie debuted in theaters — a stark contrast to the promotions for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which released its first trailer over a year before that movie hit the big screen.

Han Solo and Chewbacca in “Solo: a Star Wars Story.” Photo by Jonathan Olley – © 2018 – Lucasfilm Ltd.

Another big reason for “Solo’s” poor earnings was the director shake-up that happened halfway through production. Perhaps adding to the many blunders in marketing, a decent amount of the film had to be re-shot in the middle of production. Director duo Chris Lord and Phil Miller left the project due to “creative differences,” which is never a good sign for a movie so late in production. In the end, Director Ron Howard was said to have “saved” the movie in the eyes of actor Emilia Clarke.

The cast of the movie was flawless. Clarke’s character, Daenerys Targaryen, from “Game of Thrones” seemed to have traveled into the Star Wars universe. Qi’ra wasn’t just a normal love interest of the main character; she had her own motives and goals throughout the film. As a result, it felt that she wasn’t added into the story so Han had someone to chase around the entire movie.

Paul Bettany’s Dryden Vos was a villain that was fun to watch, reminiscent of an old-time crime boss. Although the Star Wars universe has a plethora of incredible villains already, he managed to add in something that seemed fresh and exciting to a generic formula.

Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) apperence in “Solo.” Photo by Jonathan Olley – © 2018 – Lucasfilm Ltd.

Alden Ehrenreich played the “young and scrappy” version of Han Solo — portraying the character with dedication and love for both new and old fans. As I was leaving the theater, a woman behind me said, “It seems like they went back in time and took Harrison Ford for this movie.” Although I don’t agree 100 percent, as this version of Han still has to go through more to become the Han we met in “A New Hope,” Alden did a better job than anyone could have at filling Harrison Ford’s shoes.

The good news is that he has signed on for three more “Star Wars'” films, so we should see him again at some point in either the possible Boba Fett spin-off, the rumored Lando Calrissian spin-off, or in some other film later in the “Star Wars'” production.

Donald Glover as Lando. Photo by Jonathan Olley – © 2018 – Lucasfilm Ltd.

As for Lando Calrissian, Donald Glover’s performance proved how well he fit into the role of the suave space pilot. Every small mannerism that Billy Dee Williams had when he played the character was seen in the way Glover played him, even pronouncing Han’s name wrong.

The second reason this movie was so good was because it decided to change up the third act of the movie. The film attempts to add a classic western feel to “Solo,” which had a heavy presence in the end of the film. Every “Star Wars” movie usually ends with an enormous space battle, yet Solo attempts to change that formula to give viewers a more grounded and realistic story.

Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos. Photo by Jonathan Olley – © 2018 – Lucasfilm Ltd.

Although the new actors playing characters we already have seen were all very good in their roles, the best part about “Solo” being an origin story is that we already know where these characters will end up in the larger chronology of the saga’s universe. Solo didn’t have to spend the first thirty minutes of the movie introducing its main characters; Han Solo is a household name.

The last aspect that makes this movie so good is a minor one, but it makes this movie the first of its kind when you notice it. Solo isn’t centered around the Jedi in any way and focuses solely on the crime world of “Star Wars.” Even though “Rogue One” doesn’t feature any Jedi on screen, it features Kyber Crystals (used to power lightsabers) and the “Guardians of the Whills,” which are a sort of non force-sensitive Jedi Monk. The Jedi are arguably the most popular part of “Star Wars,” so it was interesting to finally see a movie not include them.

The second of Disney’s “anthology films” was released on May 25, and is a great film for fans of the series. Keep your eye out for the abundance of “Star Wars'” movies expected to release in the next few years.