Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) – Ron Howard

Solo: A Star Wars Story disappointed at the box office in comparison to the other Star Wars films, and there seems to be a lack of buzz surrounding the franchise, either due to Star Wars fatigue, or the lack of excitement about the direction the franchise is heading in (with prequels such as a Boba Fett movie in the pipeline). The film had a lot of production issues, as the co-directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord were fired mid-production for having a different vision to Lucasfilm, and reportedly pushing the boundaries too far, making the film more improv heavy and tonally akin to a Guardians of the Galaxy film. Ron Howard was thus hired to direct and do reshoots to get the film more in line with the script by Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan. Solo: A Star Wars Story, despite the problematic nature of its making, is a decent film. While I had a few nit-picky issues, overall I really enjoyed the film’s aesthetics and tone, as well as the charming characterisation of Hans, played by Alden Ehrenreich.

From the opening I appreciated the look of the film and the filter used, as well as the editing. At the beginning the editing feels snappy and fast-paced with very quick shots that are apt for the story-line. The visuals and cutting of the film thus work really nicely to set the tone for the film. There is a darker shading to the film at times, as the film deals with the underworld of criminal activity. I really appreciated the coherent finish of the film, especially considering the production issues. There is humour throughout which adds to the films light-hearted feel, and the plot feels balanced and well-paced. However, there are a few points that I found to be unconvincing, such as what happens with the character of Val (Thandie Newton). In fact there are a few characters that I do not feel were essential to the plot, but at no point did the film feel too hectic or bloated with characters, I just would have cut some out to add more depth to those central to the story-line.

The film gives an insight into the adventures of Solo and shows how he meets characters like Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando (Donald Glover). There is also romance with the character of Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), and the film builds upon Solo’s relationships and develops his backstory. His drive and ambition for a better life are palpable, and Ehrenreich’s performance portrays an excitement and eager nature to the character of Han, whose portrayal by Harrison Ford previously felt more pessimistic. The Solo film accordingly gives a few reasons that Solo would become slightly more cynical and adds a vitality to the depiction of a younger Solo.

Due to it being a prequel the weight of certain dramatic moments is limited, as we know the fate of many of the characters due to the other Star Wars films. Hence, we know which characters will definitely survive, and can guess at  the outcome of the others. While this did take away a certain suspense from the film, I still found the plot enjoyable, and while some have argued that this prequel was not necessary to the franchise, (and I do not argue that it is), it is still an entertaining, watchable summer blockbuster that I believe does not deserve the negative cloud surrounding it.

 

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