Solo: A Star Wars Story

Leading up to the latest installment of the beloved space saga, there was a lot of speculation around trouble at the set, especially fueled by the firing of the original directors Lord and Miller. A source on set claimed to have witnessed a whole lot of issues concerning Alden Ehrenreich‘s acting skills, the script and studio interference. Did any of this turn out to be true?
The short answer is: no, it did not. Ehrenreich‘s performance is decent, and the story seems fine too. This is not to say that Solo: A Star Wars Story is a masterpiece of some sort, it is a rather flawed movie.
Let’s address the elephant in the room first. How good is Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo? Pretty decent, actually. He definitely has a lot of charm, and his interpretation of Solo is interesting, but he can’t live up to Harrison Ford, who personifies the charming scoundrel like no one else. It is probably a bit unfair to hold Ehrenreich to those standards but it‘s an obvious comparison to draw. Depending on whether you watch Solo in good or bad faith this might be either unproblematic for you or the worst thing to happen since 9/11.
Characterwise, Solo offers a wide range of quality. The characters are all interesting but it is disappointing that Chewie basically doesn’t get his own agenda beyond a brief interaction with enslaved Wookies on a mining planet. The droid L3-37 will definitely be controversial since she is an obvious reference to feminism and the Internet’s attitude towards Feminism is in nerd corners… let’s just say they’re rather ambiguous about women’s rights. I really liked L3 and found her to be one of the most memorable and funny things about this movie but will also wait for what female critics think of her since her portrayal of a character striving for equal rights can be read ambiguously. The stellar cast delivers good performances, and Donald Glover is an outstanding Lando Calrissian but I can‘t help but think that Woody Harrelson didn’t get the chance to show off a lot of his talent. Emilia Clarke’s character of Qi’ra is a bit underdeveloped and could have used a lot more backstory in order to become more sympathetic.
Conceptually the film takes Han in a different direction than the older movies and even leads to some logical gaps between Solo and A New Hope that probably need some explaining. This will split the fanbase, and I’m inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt just because I can see the potential of a future storyline involving Han and the Resistance.
Whilst this choice in the story is questionable, I see its biggest flaw in the simplicity of the story. The Last Jedi was layered, and Rian Johnson’s sensibility for themes and inter-character relationships made it a one-of-a-kind movie. Solo, on the other hand, has no subtlety and a character literally states a central theme of the movie while dying. I’m not kidding, this actually happens. Of course, this makes the movie more accessible – especially children will understand Solo better than TLJ- and is arguably better suited for a fun adventure flick but I was a bit disappointed anyway.
Being an adventure film, Solo delivers some rather memorable set pieces that and neat action. Overall, the craftsmanship put into Solo is good and doesn’t distract from the impressive landscapes, ranging from a monorail in snowy mountains to a refinery in the desert. The creature design is in longstanding franchise tradition great and especially the scene where the crew of the Falcon tries to escape a gigantic space creature – its not a spoiler if it‘s in the trailer – is impressive in scale and design, which make for some Lovecraftian chills.
Solo is a good film. There is nothing especially terrible about it but nothing that would make it great either. Nobody will ever know how it would have turned out with a smooth production but the result we have is a decent, fun adventure flick with memorable scenes and a simple message that make Solo an enjoyable movie to watch with the whole family.

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