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Solo: A Star Wars Story Movie Review

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Another Star Wars movie is hitting theaters, and for the first time in history, it doesn’t have much buzz. On top of the fact that many are mostly apathetic toward the idea of a Han Solo origin story, it had complications with its first set of directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Lord and Miller have an unbelievable track record, but apparently Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan didn’t like the direction they were going. It sounded bad until they brought in Ron Howard, who I trusted despite the fact that he re-shot eighty to ninety percent of the movie. It took forever to get our first trailer, but once it was finally released, the positivity went up a little bit. Personally, I’ve never been on board with this movie being a necessity, but I was definitely interested in seeing what it could be.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story is directed by Ron Howard and stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, and Paul Bettany. This movie takes us back to before Han Solo met Luke and Old Ben Kenobi in the cantina on that fateful day. Back to when Han was still a smuggler, making his way across the galaxy in an attempt to become the greatest pilot of all-time. He may get a little bit more than he bargains for when he enters the underground world of intergalactic crime and teams up with a partner who stands directly underneath some very big boots.

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One of the biggest obstacles this movie faced was bringing Han Solo to the screen in the form of an actor not named Harrison Ford. Alden Ehrenreich has been in a few movies, but his most notable role probably came in Hail, Caesar!, the 2016 film from the Coen Brothers. While I think that the movie is one of the filmmaking duo’s worst, Alden Ehrenreich held his own in his scene with Ralph Fiennes, which is pretty impressive. With Solo, he became the character of Han Solo. It didn’t feel like a cheap impression, and it didn’t feel like he was trying to copy the delivery and mannerisms of Han. It felt natural, and he did as well as he possibly could have with an iconic character. There are certain shots that make you forget about the comparison because Ehrenreich has his own, equally valid interpretation of Han Solo while he fully embodies the spirit of the classic Harrison Ford Han. I also loved the chemistry he had with Chewbacca. The two play so well off each other, and I love how the relationship develops into what we eventually see in A New Hope. I guess that’s the best compliment that I can give the two anthology movies. They have both improved some aspect of the original Star Wars film, which I initially thought was darn near impossible. I also loved Donald Glover as Lando. Again, it’s not because he’s doing a Billy Dee Williams impression. The two just seem to have the same interpretation of the character and establish themselves in the same mental state, and it works so perfectly. All of these characters make the movie a fun summer blockbuster that seems to bring Star Wars back to where it started with some great action set-pieces and some thrilling space adventures. It also takes on the tone of a heist film, which I enjoyed. The obstacles faced by the characters had me on the edge of my seat and smiling for the better part of the film.

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Though I can’t deny that I enjoyed the movie, and I can probably see myself giving it another watch, I don’t think that this is a great movie. Before seeing Solo: A Star Wars Story, I was a little bit skeptical about just how necessary this movie was. I’d much rather see new films set in the Star Wars universe with new characters and new events. Solo contains many call backs to events we’ve heard of previously in Star Wars lore, and while they make for cute Easter eggs, those events never gave me enough depth or stakes to believe that this movie should exist. I was never afraid for any of the characters or truly invested emotionally in any of them beyond the previous emotional investment I brought into the theater to begin with. Yes, it’s fun to see Han Solo on-screen with Chewbacca, and it’s fun to see Donald Glover hit home runs with every line as Lando, but it never goes deeper than an enjoyable popcorn flick. I also think that it’s pretty forgettable. There aren’t any moments in this movie that I’m going to want to revisit, and, again, that’s likely because it couldn’t bring the stakes that it needed to bring. Its twists and turns are relatively predictable, including the ones that haven’t previously been discussed in a saga film. It also doesn’t introduce any new memorable characters. Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Paul Bettany, and the rest of the cast portraying new characters give good performances, but their characters feel flat and inconsequential in both the grand scheme of the Star Wars mythos and the smaller, contained character arc of Han Solo. The previous movies have killed it with great new droids like BB-8 and K-2SO, but the new droid in this film, L3-37, is pure shtick. Shtick can be a good thing when it’s well-timed, but her dialogue didn’t work for me, and it felt like she was being beaten over our heads in an attempt to make her likable. Finally, there are a few scenes that call back certain events that build Han Solo as a character that I didn’t particularly care for. I won’t spoil any of them in the event that you don’t know which ones the movie touches on, but most of the time they were cooler in concept than in execution, and I somewhat wish that they hadn’t been touched.

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Overall, I enjoyed this movie, and I thought that the relationship between Han and Chewy was enough to make it worth a watch for Star Wars fans. The chemistry between the two might be the best it has ever been in any Star Wars film, and it’s the main reason that I can say that I liked Solo: A Star Wars Story. Alden Ehrenreich does a great job as Han, and though there will never be an actor who plays Han the way Harrison Ford does, Ehrenreich made me believe in the character. Donald Glover was also perfect as Lando. He nailed every single line of dialogue while also bringing the right charisma and mannerisms to the role. It also has some decent action sequences that are really enjoyable to watch. As a whole, the word I would use to describe the movie is “fun.” It’s a fun summer blockbuster with plenty of issues that make it feel choppy at certain points. I don’t think that it had the depth and emotional substance to make it feel like a necessary story to tell, and I probably won’t remember it unless I give it a few more watches to melt into my brain, but it is a good time at the theater during the summer. I’m going to give Solo: A Star Wars Story a 6.8/10.

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Will you be seeing Solo: A Star Wars Story? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm




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