‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ (Film)

‘SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

The Adventures of Han

Did this ‘Star Wars’ movie really need to be made?

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ is the tenth ‘Star Wars’ film made in the franchise. The film was released in 2018 and has a very troubled production history in its making. It was originally meant to be directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who later went on to produce ‘Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse’.

Sadly, during the making of the film in June 2017, Phil Lord and Chris Miller got fired over ‘creative differences’ with Lucasfilm. The film was eventually taken over by Ron Howard, who is well-known for starring in the sitcom series ‘Happy Days’ and has directed films like ‘The Grinch’ with Jim Carrey.

Thankfully, Phil Lord and Chris Miller received credit for the film as executive producers. The film also had the screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan Kasdan. Lawrence Kasdan also co-wrote the screenplays for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, ‘Return of the Jedi’ and ‘The Force Awakens’. 😀

Apparently, ‘Solo’ is the most expensive ‘Star Wars’ film ever made to date due to reshoots during its production history. Sadly it didn’t pay off as the film became a box office bomb in May 2018. This is a big shame. I do find ‘Solo’ to be a pretty underrated and decent film in the ‘Star Wars’ film franchise.

I was one of those people who saw the film at the cinema, albeit in June 2018. I did find it strange though that a ‘Star Wars’ film would be released at the cinema not long after ‘The Last Jedi’ was released in December 2017. ‘Star Wars’ movies were released in May time before with the prequels.

But it seemed so soon. Wouldn’t it make sense to have ‘Solo’ released for December 2018 rather than in May 2018? I thought the ‘Star Wars’ movies were becoming a Christmas tradition lately, especially with ‘The Force Awakens’, ‘Rogue One’ and ‘The Last Jedi’ released before Christmas time.

Despite that, I had a good time watching ‘Solo’ at the cinema. I found it to be an entertaining romp of a ‘Star Wars’ movie. I eventually purchased ‘Solo’ as well as ‘The Last Jedi’ on DVD during my Christmas shopping in December 2018 before I’m here where I am now with reviewing this movie. 🙂

I admit ‘Solo’ isn’t as great as other ‘Star Wars’ movies I’ve seen. But like I said, I found it a decent entry into the series. It also takes on a light-hearted adventurous tone, but not too light-hearted to make me feel like engaged with the story. There were interesting twists and turns in the film as well.

‘Solo’ of course is a prequel anthology film that focuses on the character of Han Solo. This is a younger Han Solo before he met up with Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia in the original ‘Star Wars’ trilogy. I was very disappointed that Harrison Ford didn’t reprise his role as Han Solo during the film.

In the film, Han tries to find a way to get back to his lover Qi’ra (pronounced Kira), who got apprehended when they were escaping from the planet Corellia. Enduring three years being an Empire soldier, Han Solo meets Chewbacca the Wookiee for the first time before he gets to reunite with his lover Qi’ra.

I admit, ‘Solo’ does seem to be an unnecessary film to make as it’s not exciting as ‘Rogue One’ involving Darth Vader and a resistance group stealing Death Star plans. I would’ve liked a ‘Kenobi’ movie myself. But at the same time, I found ‘Solo’ pretty easy to watch and fun to enjoy throughout.

Alden Ehrenreich stars as Han Solo in the film. I found his performance pretty decent, though it doesn’t match to Harrison Ford’s interpretation of the role exactly. It was intriguing to see what a young Han Solo was like as he does these trade deals with dodgy customers in a galaxy far, far away.

Despite not making an appearance in this movie, Harrison Ford apparently gave tips to Alden Ehrenreich on how to play the character. This is actually good to know. I’m glad Harrison Ford had some involvement in the film, even if it was limited to giving advice to the actor playing a young Han.

The film shows what Han does best and it was interesting to see him fighting in the wars of the Galactic Empire for three years, just so he could get back to a planet to find a lost flame. Obviously Qi’ra had an impact on Han. I’m surprised Han did not mention Qi’ra’s name in the original trilogy. 😀

Woody Harrelson stars as Tobias Beckett in ‘Solo’. Beckett is Han Solo’s criminal mentor. I later saw Woody Harrelson make a brief appearance as Cletus Kasady in the 2018 film ‘Venom’ and possibly Carnage in its sequel for 2021. It was intriguing to see a young Han Solo under the wing of a mentor.

At first, Beckett doesn’t want Han to join his group of criminals during an Empire war. But after much persuading and bringing Chewy along, Beckett agrees to let Han be part of his team. He loves his wife Val before she gets killed at the film’s half-way point. Beckett becomes bitter once this happens.

It’s interesting how Beckett becomes a mentor for Han, even telling him not to trust anyone such as Qi’ra whom he reunites with during the film. Beckett even betrays Han to crime lord Dryden Vos before the film’s end. I was shocked in seeing it coming, even for a second watch of the movie on DVD.

The film also features Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra, who I found pretty easy to fall in love with in this film. 😀 Qi’ra has known Han ever since they were kids. It was interesting and heart-throbbing when Qi’ra got captured early on in the film, especially when she and Han had so many plans together. 😦

I prefer Qi’ra who she was before she got captured and spilt up from Han. I liked it when she and Han reunited with each other in the film, but it didn’t mean she was the same person as she was before. In reuniting with her, Han discovers Qi’ra has now become Dryden Vos’ lieutenant/mistress.

As Vos’ lieutenant/mistress, Qi’ra gets to dress up in glamorous outfits and even defend herself in a fight with a gun or a sword/dagger, serving the criminal syndicate Crimson Dawn. There are love scenes between Han and Qi’ra and she even has faith in Han’s skills. But she isn’t completely sincere.

The movie introduces certain things that connect strongly to Han Solo’s character in the original trilogy. This includes his first meeting with his Wookiee best friend, Chewbacca (‘Chewy’), played by Joonas Suotamo. Sadly Peter Mayhew was ill by that point and died shortly after this film was made.

I like how Han and Chewy first met as they fought each other in a mud-drenched pit on the planet Mimban. Surprisingly, Han can speak Wookiee and English subtitles are provided for us as an audience to understand him when he’s talking to Chewie. A pity the same can’t be done for Chewie! 😀

The movie also has us see Han having his first meeting with Lando Calrissian, played by Donald Glover. Donald Glover has been in other films I’ve seen including ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ and he’s voiced Simba in the 2019 remake of ‘The Lion King’. It’s pretty amazing how this guy gets around. 😀

Han challenges Lando in a game of sabacc in order to get his ship the Millennium Falcon. And yes! The Millennium Falcon makes an appearance in this movie. Lando is an accomplished smuggler and pilot. He manages to cheat in the game between him and Han before he agrees to help in a mission.

He helps Han, Qi’ra, Beckett and Chewy with stealing some coaxium from the mines on the planet Kessel. Whilst I appreciate Han and Lando meeting for the first time, I didn’t get a sense of friendship out from them. Billy Dee Williams also advised Donald Glover how to play the role of young Lando too.

It was nice to see the Millennium Falcon in this film. Han gets to show off how he can pilot a ship by piloting the Millennium Falcon through a dangerous maelstrom in space, much to Lando’s annoyance. It was nice to see the interior of the ship and it does almost look new and clean-looking.

Thandie Newton stars as Val Beckett, Beckett’s wife in the film. I did think Thandie Newton’s character was killed off too soon to make an impact. I mean, she is there to be very distrusting of Han and his skills. This makes me wonder why. She did not have a reason to distrust Han so severely.

Val Beckett gets killed off early when self-sacrificing herself during a train heist to steal a shipment of coaxium on the planet Vandor-1. The plan goes awry when the Cloud Riders, a group of so-called terrorists who keep following the trail of Tobias Bennett, interfere all the time and ruin his operation.

I just realised that Thandie Newton was in ‘Mission: Impossible 2’ with Tom Cruise, would you believe. I liked the romantic interaction between Val and her husband Tobias. It would be nice to have seen that explored further, especially if she was allowed to remain alive and not be killed early.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge stars as L3-37, Lando’s droid companion and navigator. I found L3 less polite than C-3PO and even less polite than K-2SO in ‘Rogue One’. She comes across as bitchy, moaning and not wanting to be there when Lando wants her to help out during a certain mission they are on.

She also has an ‘equal rights’ issue about her. And I know this sounds ludicrous, but it seems L3 thinks that Lando has a thing for her in a romantic manner. Um, not I’d discriminate that between humans and robots, but how would that work? I think that L3 is so deluded in manner and approach.

Paul Bettany stars as the crime lord Dryden Vos in the movie. Paul Bettany is also well known for voicing J.A.R.V.I.S. and playing Vision in the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ film series. I enjoyed his performance as Dryden Vos, as he’s a crime lord who has an edge and can easily flip within a second.

Vos is very distrusting when working with people like Beckett and Han. He clearly has a fancy for Qi’ra and is very good at threatening people when he doesn’t get what he wants. He’s in charge of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate and seems to have quite a lot of scars on his face as I noticed them.

It was tense when Han gave the ‘coaxium’ to Vos before he was double-crossed by Beckett. Vos’ reaction and behaviour to Han is so unhinged in that moment before the double-cross happened. Vos is very feral when using sharp red-lit daggers to kill Han before he eventually gets killed by Qi’ra in this.

The movie also features a cameo of…Ray Park as Darth Maul, voiced by Sam Witwer. What?! Darth Maul appears in this movie?! WOW!!! That’s so incredible! I didn’t expect to see that! Wait a minute! How did he survive that fall from ‘The Phantom Menace’? Was there a movie we missed? 😀

Apparently, Darth Maul’s appearance in this movie ties in to the ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ TV series, which I haven’t seen. This is going to be confusing for people who watch this movie without having seen ‘Rebels’. I hope I’ll watch ‘Rebels’ someday, but Maul’s appearance in this film is badly handled here.

The film also features Erin Kellyman as Enfrys Nest, the leader of the Cloud Riders. There’s also Jon Favreau as the voice of Rio Durant, a four-armed Ardennian pilot who also gets killed off early, being a member of Beckett’s crew. There’s also Linda Hunt who’s the voice of the snake-like Lady Proxima.

Anthony Daniels makes a blink and you’ll miss it cameo in this movie as Tak, who was enslaved alongside Chewie. There’s also Kiran Shah (from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films) as Karjj and Warwick Davis who briefly appears as Weazel, a Cloud Rider, who was also in ‘The Phantom Menace’ apparently.

The action sequences and outer-space scenes are spectacular as ever in this ‘Star Wars’ film. It was pretty flash-bang-wallop as usual in these action films, but the story manages to hold up rather well. There aren’t any lightsaber fights sadly, but like I said, there were a few ‘sword’/’dagger’ fights here.

The film ends with Han eventually shooting Beckett before he and Chewbecca go off to find Lando. Qi’ra also leaves in Vos’ yacht, still serving the Crimson Dawn syndicate. Han manages to win another game of sabacc with Lando by cheating. Very soon, he and Chewy take the Millennium Falcon for Tatooine.

The music for ‘Solo’ is composed by John Powell, who has done music for many films such as ‘Chicken Run’; the first ‘Shrek’ film; three ‘Ice Age’ films; ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’; etc. I like how John Powell reused original ‘Star Wars’ musical themes composed by John Williams, including Han Solo’s theme.

Again, like with ‘The Force Awakens’, ‘Rogue One’ and ‘The Last Jedi’, there aren’t any DVD special features for ‘Solo’. For those who want to see the behind-the-scenes material on ‘Solo’, you’ll have to get the Blu-ray for that. I’m not surprised anymore and I’ve come to expect that with new film releases.

The special features on the Blu-ray are as follows. There’s ‘Solo: The Director & Cast Roundtable’; ‘Kasdan on Kasdan’; ‘Remaking the Millennium Falcon’; ‘Escape from Corellia’; ‘The Train Heist’; ‘Team Chewie’; ‘Becoming a Droid: L3-37’; ‘Scoundrels, Droids, Creatures and Cards: Welcome to Fort Ypso’; ‘Into the Maelstrom: The Kessel Run’ and deleted scenes.

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ is a pretty entertaining flick. I wouldn’t call it amazing, but then again this was rather fun to watch. I’m glad I got to see this movie and it was interesting to see what Han Solo was like as a young person before his entry into the ‘Star Wars’ series became proper. You will enjoy this!

It was interesting to hear from my Dad that he found ‘Solo’ to be one of the better ‘Star Wars’ films he’d seen. This is a surprise for me as I didn’t expect to hear him say that. But with its relatively straight-forward plot; light-hearted action and entertaining characters, I can see it as a good film. 😀

Han and Chewy are on their way to Tatooine in the Millennium Falcon. Will they join a rebellion? 😀

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ rating – 7/10


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2 thoughts on “‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ (Film)

  1. I think the reason this didn’t do well at the box office was fan backlash over that abomination Last Jedi which is a shame as Solo isn’t a bad movie it’s just a unnecessary spin off, if Disney had done a Vader movie it would’ve made a ton of money & appeased old school fans who loathed Last Jedi, Solo to me didn’t warrant a solo entry i think Harrison Ford is the character & this film tried force a tragic backstory to the character.

    Still there was some decent action, Emila Clarkes easy on the eye & Chewbacca steals the show again, Oh Darth Maul in Rebels seeks out Kenobi oh did that episode divide fandom.

    Excellent review Tim 7/10 a fair rating & your review has perfectly summed up the movie.

    Have you read my rant about 4 month delay of The Manddrlorian, disgraceful i know the first ep spoiler because someone posted a pic on a gaming website, my opinion it’s encouraging fans to pirate the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’.

      Yeah, I can understand and appreciate that. It’d make sense ‘Solo’ didn’t do so well at the box office because of the reception ‘Last Jedi’ got. I’m wondering if ‘Rise of Skywalker’ will get a similar treatment as ‘Solo’ in becoming a box office disaster. I would’ve preferred a ‘Vader’ or a ‘Kenobi’ movie as they would’ve been more interesting compared to how ‘Solo’ turned out. Not that ‘Solo’ is a bad movie, but then again you’re right in it there being a tragic backstory forced upon Han Solo. I also agree you can’t replace Harrison Ford as Han, despite the brave attempt made in doing a younger version of him.

      Yeah EmilIa Clarke is lovely in the film. A shame Han forgot about her in future films. I wonder what became of her. 😀 I enjoyed Chewie too and how he and Han first met in this. Agreed, the action’s pretty decent.

      I have a lot to check out in terms of ‘Star Wars’ stuff with the ‘Thrawn’ books; ‘The Clone Wars’ series and the ‘Rebels’ series. I look forward to seeing them for future ‘Star Wars Review Seasons’. Really, a ‘Rebels’ episode divided fandom with Maul chasing Kenobi. That’d be interesting to see when I check it out. 🙂

      Glad you agree with my rating and how I’ve summed up this movie in my review. I have seen some of your rant about ‘The Mandalorian’ being delayed in the UK by Disney+. I agree, why can’t they show this new ‘Star Wars’ series at the same time in both UK and US? It seems unfair on the UK ‘Star Wars’ fans. I’d wait for the series to come out on DVD/Blu-ray myself, but it does seem like the broadcasters haven’t thought this through with avoiding spoilers being shared on the Internet as you’ve discovered yourself.

      Many thanks for your comments, Simon.

      Tim. 🙂

      Like

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