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Solo: A Star Wars Story
U.S.A. 2018

Opening 24 May 2018

Directed by: Ron Howard
Writing credits: Jonathan Kasdan, Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas
Principal actors: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Joonas Suotamo, Donald Glover

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” George Lucas apologized to a San Franciscan test audience that the film was not yet quite finished and would be better. With that, lights dimmed and Millennium Falcon flew over peoples’ heads onto the cinema screen… They were gobsmacked, as audiences and the continuing strong Star Wars fan base attests to.

Solo: A Star Wars Story foundation is Lucas’ endurable unique characters and space chronicle from the original 1977 film and its ensuing trilogy. Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan’s screenplay has cleverly adapted key characters, and added new ones, into a strong storyline in this standalone space Western that begins before what was hitherto told. Ron Howard astutely steers the spacecraft replacing Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (credited as executive producers); John Powell’s score and adaptation of John William’s original music adds to a sense of continuity. Plus, there are “ah ha” moments for both first time and seasoned space travelers.

Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) continually scheme to be free of murky, criminally corrupt Corellia. The intrepid, cocksure yet good-hearted rascal’s dream is to be a pilot. One step from freedom… Fast-forward three years: Han Solo picks up a monster of a new friend (Joonas Suotamo) about the time Beckett (Woody Harrelson) admits to Val (Thandie Newton), “the kid’s growing on me.” After striking a “sweet deal,” the novices go galaxy hopping with expert crook-cum-mentor Baxter and get a “baptism of fire”, yet prove they are quick learners. Solo gets a surprise, crime lord Vos (Paul Bettany) gets an alternate deal, and Baxter tests a theory that lead Solo to presumptuously try his talents in other directions. Solo and Chewbacca meet new associates, e.g. Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Rio Durant (Jon Favreau voice), Marauders, et al., and set a new course of action.

In the second Star Wars anthology film (after Rogue One, 2016), the ensemble cast packs a punch, especially Ehrenreich and Glover. Both met with their characters’ original cast, Harrison Ford/Solo and Billy Dee Williams/ Calrissian respectively, for tips and insights, both make the character their own, and they obviously have a good rapport. Plus points are: the dialogue’s glib one-liners, tongue-in-cheek wisecracks, street-smart savvy and meaningful exchanges, and Bradford Young’s cinematography. Editor Pietro Scalia (replacing Chris Dickens) now and then skips a beat or lingers over CGI (character generated imagery that is downright impressive) action a beat too long.

It is somewhat unconventional and uncanny knowing which threads will pull what direction in the Star Wars franchise, i.e. knowing these characters futures. Still, learning about Solo and Chewbacca’s first meeting, how Han’s name evolves, and listening to Solo’s cheeky naiveté faux pas is fun. This 135-minute voyage into the Star Wars galaxy presents interesting correlations and perspectives and, piques curiosity about what Han and cohorts will get into next. (Marinell Haegelin)

Second Opinion

Solo, being a criminal, tries to flee with his girlfriend Kira from his former boss. She ends up getting caught and he is able to escape the planet. He made a promise, that one day he would return and save her. He joins the Imperial military to become a pilot. After numerous fights he ends up meeting Beckett, who is himself a criminal cloaked as an Imperial Officer. They end up working and experiencing many adventures together. These missions lead to the coincidence that Solo meets Kira again. She has freed herself but is maybe not as trustworthy as one thinks.

Being a big Star Wars Fan I enjoyed this movie a lot. The music and the special effects were very well done as expected. The characters they implemented were also wisely chosen. I enjoyed this movie so much because you were always surprised by the crazy ideas Ron Howard created. I enjoyed the idea of taking from the rich and giving to the poor, especially since a young adult/ child put in such an enormous effort to achieve this. All in all I really enjoyed this movie and can recommend this movie to every Star Wars fan out there! Pay close attention to some details; you might notice some differences to the original Star Wars movies. (Adrian Schoeneshoefer)

Third Opinion

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, several years before the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), Han Solo (Alden Ehenreich) is a young man with a dream. He wants to escape his less-than-ideal circumstances and become a pilot. However, as always, he has a penchant for getting into tight spots and helping lost causes which derails his plans.

As is always the case with prequels to popular film franchises, there is no point to Solo: A Star Wars Story. Does the audience really need every moment of the characters’ lives spelled out for them? Do we really need to see Han and Chewbacca meeting for the first time? Or learn how Han won the Millennium Falcon from Lando (played by a scene-stealing Donald Glover)?  Is it necessary to see these scenes? The answer to that is a resounding no, and that is the greatest struggle of the entire film—it is superfluous. There is little tension as we all know where these characters end up in a few years. Also, while Ehenreich’s performance perhaps does not deserve the intense scrutiny it has been subjected to by critics, he does not have even half of charisma of Harrison Ford. This results in something rather forgettable, a piece of fluff film which is enjoyable on the surface, but doesn’t evoke anything but nostalgia from the audience. Certainly there will be many who will enjoy Solo, and its lighter tone makes it more appropriate for younger audiences than some other recent additions to the franchise. However, with its underwhelming characterization and predictable plot, there is nothing really to make it worth the price of the ticket. (Rose Finlay)

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