Film review: SOLO: A Star Wars Story

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HNS attended an advance screening of SOLO: A Star Wars Story to review the film. Check out our thoughts on this latest Star Wars film!

Review by Chloe Palka

Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo befriends his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and meets the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes.

The film stars Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, and Paul Bettany.

Ron Howard directs “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” and Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur and Simon Emanuel are the producers. Lawrence Kasdan, Jason McGatlin, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller serve as executive producers. Jonathan Kasdan & Lawrence Kasdan wrote the screenplay.

Reviewer’s thoughts: 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Time for a new Star Wars movie! Solo: A Star Wars Story hits theaters today, exploring the beginnings of one of the franchise’s most iconic and beloved characters – charming rogue Han Solo. It’s an origin story with plenty of adventure, a delightful supporting cast, and adrenaline to spare. Ultimately, Solo is perhaps best summed up by its opening joyride scene – it doesn’t run perfectly, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures) is charming as the young Han Solo, with that winning smile and unshakable confidence. Despite his rough upbringing, the Solo we meet here is lighter and brighter than the last time we saw him, as the deadpan Harrison Ford in The Force Awakens. But it feels like Han hasn’t quite grown into the swagger and charisma we love in him later on. Harrison Ford’s performance would be pretty much impossible for any actor to measure up to – especially when you add in the nostalgia factor – but Han Solo is someone you think of as the epitome of charisma, and there are multiple Solo supporting characters who have him beat in that area.

So, let’s talk about the characters who round out this movie. Donald Glover is absolutely alluring as Lando Calrissian, with a room full of capes and swagger to spare. His banter with Han and chemistry with, well, just about everyone are just a few of the things to look forward to where Lando is concerned. Woody Harrelson’s Tobias Beckett shows us another stage of the scoundrel life, with hard choices and a darker edge. He’s nothing if not a survivor, and Harrelson is fantastic in the role. Paul Bettany couldn’t be further from his Infinity War character as the menacing crime lord Dryden Vos, which he plays with a kind of gleeful malice that is both frightening and entertaining. We also get some interesting scenes with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and see the formation of his friendship with Han.

And then of course, there are the ladies – who absolutely steal the show, if you ask me. Thandie Newton (Westworld) is captivating (but unfortunately underused) as Val, an ice cold outlaw working with Beckett and his crew. Game of Thrones’ Khaleesi Emilia Clarke is a much more constant presence as Qi’ra, who starts the movie as a damsel in distress but ends up on an interesting and unexpected path as the story progresses. Lando’s droid companion and copilot L3, voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is also a standout – providing both some of the film’s funniest moments and an important message of equal rights that pays off in a satisfying way.

The story itself covers just about everything you might want to know about Han’s backstory that has ever been referenced in another Star Wars film. How Han met Chewie? Check. How Han met Lando? Check. How he won the Millennium Falcon? Check. What the Kessel Run is and how he did it in 12 parsecs? Check. Want to know how he got his name? You guessed it – check. For some this might feel like too much fan service, but the story is surprisingly fun with some truly unexpected easter eggs. (There were gasps in our theater at one point, and you’ll know which moment that is.)

While the pacing isn’t consistent, overall Solo is a wild ride that I really enjoyed. The stakes of this particular adventure can’t compare to the epic main saga, but the characters – particularly Donald Glover as Lando and all of the ladies – are sure to become some new fan favorites. I mean, Emilia Clarke kicking ass while wearing a power jumpsuit in space? Sign. Me. Up. I was also struck by the diversity onscreen and the messages of equality more so than the other films in the franchise, which is certainly a step in the right direction. Solo: A Star Wars Story isn’t perfect, but it’s enjoyable with a stellar cast and certainly worth seeing.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is in theaters now.

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
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