Solo: A Star Wars Story, the 11th film in the franchise, warped into theatres yesterday and earned over 14 million at the box office in under a day. Starring Donald Glover (Atlanta, Community), Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones, Me Before You), Woody Harrelson (Now You See Me, Zombieland), Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures, Hail Caesar!), and Thandie Newton (Westworld, 2012), the Star Wars franchise once again brings together some of the biggest stars in the industry. Directed by Ron Howard and written by Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan (the later known for films such as The Big Chill and Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark), Solo does a surprisingly good job of creating an interesting and creative backstory for the legendary character originally played by Harrison Ford.
Performances and Casting
The casting in this film was strange. There were a lot of really great casting choices made, such as Woody Harrelson for Becket and Donald Glover as Lando. There were, however, several choices that were very questionable. The casting of Alden Ehrenreich was, needless to say, controversial and the casting of Paul Bettany as the villain and Erin Kellyman as Enfys Nest were both bad decisions. While Alden Ehrenreich did surprisingly well filling Harrison Ford’s shoes (especially after the Jim Carrey incident) and the majority of the cast delivering fairly good performances, Bettany and Kellyman were somewhat disappointing (though this may have more to do with miscasting than acting ability). Glover, of course, was the stand-out performance and Jon Favreau did well with what was a disappointingly small role.
Screenplay and Direction
Solo suffered through several issues with directors including the firing of Lord and Miller and extensive reshoots that helped the film adapt to Ron Howard’s vision (which was definitely for the best). These issues were solved brilliantly and it was impossible to tell that the film had gone through such a dramatic change that could have easily ruined the film (like it did Justice League).
On the writing side, I would say that the film was very mixed in quality. The story was great, blending the genres of the heist film, the western, and the space opera into a surprisingly tonally sound 2 hours of entertainment (though, if you go into this film expecting an artistically nuanced and intellectually complex film, you will be disappointed). The screenplay, on the other hand, was strong in some places (and did an especially good job of conveying Han’s personality throughout) but very weak in others. There were far too many moments in this film at which I physically cringed, sighed with the boring predictability of dialogue, or was confused by call-backs to dialogue that was not memorable enough for the call-back to make sense.
Costumes, Set Design, and Music
The costumes and set/prop design in this film were absolutely spectacular, as we have come to expect from the Star Wars franchise. Attention was payed to the finest detail of extraordinarily creative aliens (that we have not seen before) and Lando’s fabulous collection of the galaxies finest capes, culminating in a 2-hour-long visual feast. Headed by David Crossman and Glyn Dillon (who have collaborated on several of the more recent Star Wars films), the costume department does a great job of balancing the outlandish style of Lando Calrissian with the practical jacket of Solo himself and the formal attire worn by Paul Bettany’s Dryden Vos (and managed to get Emilia Clarke’s Qi’Ra into all of these styles).
The music on the other hand, while largely ok, was often simply relying on the nostalgia of the original John Williams score and strangely sped up the theme to an uncomfortably fast pace. Also, though the music was largely in the right places, it occasionally stuck out like a sore thumb.
The CGI, as always with Disney, was impressive, with aliens looking more real than ever. I would argue, however, that it was a little overused. One of the great things about the original Star Wars films was the creative use of practical effects that gave the films a sort of tangibility (though really this is just personal taste).
The cinematography and editing were fairly good but nothing special. This is to be expected really. You don’t go into a Star Wars film expecting an indie film and the editing was done well enough that it was not noticeable (often what is aimed for in such films to enhance the escapism factor).
Canon and Tie-Ins/Adaption
Finally, in relation to canon and tie-ins, Solo once again stands at ‘unusual’. Though no actual mistakes were made and the attention to detail was impeccable, a lot of the people mentioned and a certain surprising cameo would not make sense if you have not seen some of the animated shows that delve deeper into the lore. I do think, though, that it is great that they are bringing the rich, intriguing lore closer to the forefront with the live-action films because it is one of the things that makes Star Wars feel so alive.
In summary, Solo is generally very entertaining and even has some laugh-out-loud moments and a solid plot with a surprisingly good performance from Ehrenreich but still has some issues that mostly lie in the writing and casting decisions made before Ron Howard took control and rescued the film from what was looking to be become pretty awful.
I hope you liked this post and be sure to subscribe below to get reviews like this and more, or simply like our Facebook page. If you only want reviews like this, however, check out my site at the Sci-Fi Critic. Also, please go ahead and share this content or check out some more of our content at ScreenHub Entertainment like our post on why that character is still alive in Solo and our up-to-date Westworld timeline.