By Dillon Sheehan
Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story tells the beginnings of one of cinema’s most famous heroes. However, the film lacks substance. While I was certainly entertained, I quickly forgot about it as soon as it ended.
Alden Ehrenreich takes on the Herculean, if not impossible, task of playing Han Solo. He tries his darndest to capture the character’s charisma and wit, but his acting is wooden at times. His sarcasm is downplayed and awkward. At many points Ehrenreich’s reactions do not match the tone of the scene and you never feel for the character.
These may not solely be Ehrenreich’s fault. In addition to having a change in director halfway through production, the movie also suffers from a bland script that feels dumbed down from other Star Wars movies.
The supporting cast is filled with familiar faces such as: Donald Glover (Community), who portrays Lando Calrissian; Paul Bettany (Avengers: Infinity War) as Dryden Vos, a scarred gangster who calmly makes his villainous callousness clear; Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) who takes on the role of an Obi-Wan type figure crossed with Jesse James; and Emilia Clarke (Games of Thrones) as Han’s childhood friend who falls into the world of crime. Jon Favreau (Iron Man 2 and 3) even makes an appearance as a wisecracking four-armed alien whose jokes make you smile more than laugh.
Even with a lackluster script and story, Solo has its merits. The movie’s cinematography stands out, as well as the atmosphere in which the story plays out, fit well within the Star Wars aesthetic. Set pieces and fights are entertaining to watch and have their own unique spin. There were some reveals along the way that kept me second-guessing, although they did not carry enough weight to have an impact.
There are also some major issues with the set-up of Han Solo’s backstory, and they range from confusing to awful. Ever wonder why his last name is Solo? I didn’t, but this movie went ahead and made it a nickname since he’s ‘alone’ in the galaxy. Solo fails because it removes the mystery of it’s iconic hero and answers questions the audience never asked.
The big question is whether or not I would recommend Solo. While I do think it’s worth a watch in either the theater or at home, I do not actively encourage a viewing. Unlike previous entries in the Star Wars franchise, Solo lacks the sense of wonder and charm that keeps bringing us back to the theater. 3 out of 5 stars.