Solo: A Star Wars Story review – A fun adventure with a likable cast

Posted on 25 May 2018
By Andrew Siddall
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When it was first announced that Disney would be creating a spin-off movie all about the early years of Han Solo, without Harrison Ford, fans weren’t too pleased about it. But, with the movie now out, Star Wars fans have been treated to another fun adventure into a galaxy far, far away.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is the tenth live-action instalment in the Star Wars franchise and second anthology movie. It sees a young Han Solo, played by Alden Ehrenreich, living on the streets before being drawn into the world of smuggling.

From the opening blue text prologue and holographic title, it quickly becomes clear that this will be a different Star Wars movie than we have seen before, which is definitely needed as many more movies and spin-offs are on the way.

Alden Ehrenreich does a good job of making his own mark on the role and proves to be a likable and charming presence. He doesn’t attempt to do an impression of Harrison Ford, which bodes well for him as it will lead to less comparisons being made between them.

Qi’ra is a new character who comes from the same place as Han and has a connection to his past, but their paths split in different directions. She is played by Game of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke, who is able to balance the emotions and strength of the character in a believable way.

Atlanta actor Donald Glover is proving that this truly is his time to shine. He stars as Lando Calrissian and, like Alden Ehrenreich, makes the role his own. He’s smooth and cool, but also gives the role a lot more depth and emotion, which works really well for this film.

Due to the response from fans, Solo attempts to replicate the scene stealing K2-SO from Rogue One, by introducing us to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37. They don’t quite manage to recapture that, but she stands out from the other droids with her own unique personality and look.

The rest of Han’s team features some big names, including the always reliable Woody Harrelson as their Captain, Beckett. We also meet Val, played by the criminally underused Thandie Newton, who deserves more screen time, and the voice talents of Jon Favreau as the four armed Rio Durant. And, of course, Chewbacca, played by Joonas Suotamo.

It’s great to see Chewie back and used much more effectively than Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). He isn’t exactly how everyone will remember him, but it gives the writers a chance to let both Han and Chewie bond over the course of the film in a natural way.

The story is well told and believable, with a gradual progression towards the Han Solo that we all know and love. We get to see him become a pilot, gain his iconic blaster, and eventually become the owner of the Millennium Falcon.

The story sees Han and his team being indebted to the gangster Dryden Vos, Avengers: Infinity War’s Paul Bettany, to steal a batch of valuable coaxium from the mining planet Kessel, but not everything goes to plan. The story twists and turns through the galaxy as the plot unfolds, some predictable, some not, but it’s paced out well.

Written by Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan, the movie feels like a western in space. But with the western tone, it begins to feel reminiscent of Joss Whedon’s short-lived TV show, Firefly. It even has a train heist. But it’s a unique tone that sets it apart from the rest of the franchise.

After The LEGO Movie directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, stepped away due to creative differences, directing duties fell to movie maestro Ron Howard, who utilises every scene to bring us something different.

There’s plenty of new planets, new ships and a horde of new aliens. The designs are brilliant as always and they look great on screen. There is a couple of scenes where the lighting becomes a little too dark, making it difficult to see what’s going on, such as a breakout from a mining colony, but for the most part, everything looks good.

The action scenes are fantastic and stick to the grittier battles that were prominent in Rogue One. They are shot well and it is easy to see everything that is happening. They are edited together fluidly, leaving nothing hidden. Some highlights include the fantastic train heist and the legendary Kessel Run.

The effects have been perfected to a point where all of the ship and space battles look incredible and real. They don’t skip out of using puppetry, which is on display several times and allow the audience to truly believe these creatures and places can exist, and it also gives the actors something to interact with.

The score was created by Shrek composer John Powell, who has managed to craft a unique soundtrack that fits the film perfectly. It sounds great, enhances what is on screen, but also features plenty of small snippets from the A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back soundtracks.

There’s plenty of small Easter eggs and cameos to provide a nostalgia buzz for long-time fans, and thankfully, they don’t spend too much time dealing with them, but certain aspects felt shoe-horned in and seemed to confirm that sequels are in the works.

Overall, Solo is better than expected, but it isn’t an amazing movie. There’s some great scenes and a likable cast, but it isn’t very gripping. It’s an above average and entertaining movie that fans will enjoy.

Purple Revolver rating: 3.5/5. Not a blast, but enjoyable.