Saturday, January 19, 2019

Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story (on DVD)

[DVD Solo] 

First, a disclaimer. I’m a long-time Star Wars fan, but I grew up as a teenager on the original [IV-V-VI] trilogy in the 70s and 80s. I generally can’t stand the prequel [I-II-III] trilogy, and find myself, for the most part, accepting of the latest trilogy [VII-VIII-forthcoming IX]. Having grown up with the films that featured Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, etc., I was intrigued and pleased to see the filmmakers at Disney (once they acquired Lucasfilm) planning to put out stand-alone films that focused on previously-unseen characters at the time of the original trilogy.

The first of those stand-alone films, Rogue One: A Stars Story (2016), filled in a gap in the events that led immediately into the start of the very first film, Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), and was extremely well done. But when I heard that the second stand-alone film was going to be a “Young Han Solo” adventure, my first reaction was “But…but…we already know what happens to him in the future! How can there be any drama or suspense in the fate of the character(s) when we know what comes 20+ years later in his life?” And that, indeed, is a near-fatal flaw in this film. You don’t really feel yourself as invested in the events of the movie, since you already know everything’s essentially going to be alright for Han, Chewie, Lando and any other characters in Solo that we’ve already met in the film series.

Despite this, though, Solo turns out to be a stylish and entertaining film. Alden Ehrenreich does a nice take on what Harrison Ford might have been like 20 years before Star Wars, while Donald Glover is so spot on as a young Lando Calrissian that when I closed my eyes, I could have sworn it was Billy Dee Williams saying his lines. New characters are introduced, including Woody Harrelson’s amoral Becket, Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra, Paul Bettany’s Dryden Vos, and many more. This film had the tone of a “caper”, as Han joins up with a ragtag crew of mercenaries out to make more than one score. There are a lot of powerful people who get crossed, and double-crossed, and the action and pacing are fast. For me, the highlights of the film are seeing the earliest interactions of Han Solo and Chewbacca (who have never met before this film’s events).

In the end, I still feel like this was a film that never needed to be made, but I still enjoyed it anyway. Unfortunately, it didn’t do as well at the box office as Rogue One, and Disney has suspended production on most of the other one-shot stand-alone films, which is a shame. But, this is definitely worth watching!

[If you enjoy this, you may also wish to try Rogue One: A Stars Story.] [Novelization of this movie is also available in traditional print format.]

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this film ] | [ official Solo: A Star Wars Story web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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