An unconventional biopic on a beloved character, Solo was Lucasfilm’s last crack at a Star Wars film before they surrendered their rights to Disney. This movie wasn’t the best and didn’t add anything to the character of Han Solo, which was the entire point. However, it was a fun story and I judge movies on one question: was it fun to watch?
The directors had obviously read some Han Solo comics and cherry-picked particular excerpts to shape the plot for this movie, but ultimately didn’t make the character more interesting than he already was. In this story, Solo joins the Imperial Academy so he can rescue his love interest back on his home planet. Before joining, the audience learns that his last name is “Solo” because he doesn’t have any family. I’m not sure if that was supposed to make me feel sorry for him, or if it was adding to his legendary repertoire, but frankly, it didn’t make much sense. How could the coolest character in Star Wars have something cool stripped from him because of a weird bit of dialogue?
In this movie, they make Chewbacca a murderous Wookie, held captive by the Empire. They don’t allow Han Solo to have any of the characteristics that Harrison Ford brought. The only character that was cool was Lando Calrissian because of the way he was portrayed. Donald Glover recaptured the suave and the energy of Billy Dee Williams’s Lando, and then added to his personality. This only proves my personal point that adding Donald Glover, even to Star Wars, makes everything better. Had they done the same thing with Han Solo, this movie would’ve been tremendously better.
I think about the purpose of this movie, and the purpose is to add to the character of Han Solo. We learn about his 12-parsec flight, his dice that he hung around his window (apparently that held significance), and how the legend became the legend. Alden Ehrenreich plays Solo as unsure and timid, but amongst his companions, he’s arrogant and cocky. Very few actors, like Harrison Ford, can pull that off, and Ehrenreich was hindered by a lackadaisical script. Parts of the movie displayed Solo in a bratty light, which doesn’t accurately represent the character at all. The only time Han Solo is actually Han Solo is when he shoots Tobias Beckett, his former boss and rival, in the chest.
This movie brought Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany to the Star Wars universe, and their characters were compelling. Bettany is this sinister yet soothing criminal that takes advantage of Solo while Harrelson plays this aged-cowboy archetype and mentors Solo until it’s no longer advantageous. There were some interesting relationship dynamics, but the one character they needed to make the most out of was Solo, and this movie just didn’t completely do it.
However, as hard as I am on the character, I thought Ehrenreich wasn’t too bad during action sequences. Although I personally wanted to see the smug, New Hope Han Solo, I was pleasantly surprised with watching Solo shape himself. Perhaps the motivation of winning a girl back (who wasn’t Princess Leia, by the way) is what threw me off. The twist with Darth Maul was weird, especially since Star Wars fans saw him return in the Clone Wars and Rebels cartoon series. Anyone who hadn’t seen those series would’ve been skeptical, especially considering the last time we saw him, he was falling down a Naboo shaft in two pieces.
Although I was hard on the portrayal of the character, this movie was enjoyable. I learned long ago (in a galaxy far, far away) that you can take a lot of great things from Star Wars movies while recognizing the shortcomings. Overall, I’d give this a 7.25/10.