Film: Solo: A Star Wars Story

June 27, 2019

I’m generally not one of those people who thinks there can be too much of a good thing. Twenty-two films in, for example, and I’m still not sick of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — even though sometimes I think I should be. But what about too much of an okay thing? That’s kind of where I sit when it comes to this latest wave of Star Wars films, even though Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) may be one of the series’ better outings. For some reason, no matter how well done, this franchise seems destined to remain at an arm’s length for me.

Unsurprisingly, Solo is an origin story, jumping back in time to explore the formative years of the galaxy’s loveable scoundrel, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich). Growing up on the squalid streets of Corellia, Solo dreams of escaping with his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) to start a new life as a freewheeling pilot. When they’re separated during their escape attempt, he seeks — in a moment of desperation — a path to the stars by joining the Empire, hoping it will give him a chance to brush up on his piloting skills. Unfortunately, he’s shunted into the infantry. But Han, ever cagey and resourceful, manages to fast-talk his way out the Imperial military when his path crosses with Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), a mercenary con-man who takes a reluctant shine to Solo. Thus begins Han Solo’s path to narrow scrapes, tight corners, crafty smuggling, and high adventure, all with his new best buddy Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) by his side.

Like most Star Wars films, Solo requires the viewer to turn a blind eye to physics, not to mention basic logistics. Its early cinematography is unappealingly dark and muddy. But other than those quibbles, there’s plenty to like about the film, especially for true-blue series buffs eager for lore-building Easter eggs. Ehrenreich isn’t quite a pitch-perfect replacement for Harrison Ford, but I think he mostly gets the job done, and his growing rapport with Chewie is great fun to watch. Donald Glover turns up in welcome, amusing turn as Lando Calrissian, and there’s well-cast support from the new characters played by Clarke, Harrelson, Paul Bettany, and Thandiwe Newton, among others. I also got a kick out of Lando’s liberated droid L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge). Overall, the story is pretty solid, and I enjoyed the watch. All things considered, then, a pretty good movie, right? But for some reason, I came away feeling disengaged, and the film’s scenes are fading fast. The original Star Wars  may have been a crucial part of my introduction to the science fiction field, but I seem to have moved on.