Mediocre Mythos: Our Review of ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - May 24, 2018
Mediocre Mythos: Our Review of ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

It’s hard to watch the latest Star Wars spinoff and not wonder what it would be like if either set of opposing directors – the two who started the film or the one who can in to replace them – had the opportunity to make the entirely thing on their own.

While it has been suggested the Ron Howard is responsible for most of the film, and the work of Chris Miller and Phil Lloyd has been pushed aside, watching this origins story for a most mythic Star Wars character feels as the servant of two masters.

Or maybe more, because we must protect the franchise, after all. The result is something entirely middling and mediocre, a well-made and serviceable story about something for which we don’t need a story. Indeed, that’s the other thought that passes through your mind watching a young Han Solo navigate a world of scoundrels and thieves, murderers and rebels. What makes the Solo from the original trilogy so compelling was his aura and the stories that surrounded him. He was a well-known rogue, a boastful man of the galaxy who had tales of love and wars, of conniving plunders and daring escapes.

To make a film about his beginning, especially one so literal and straightforward, cements all that was once wonder and curiosity. There can be nothing mythic when the story is laid out bare, and simple. The other difficulty, naturally, is that it’s hard to find someone as charming and charismatic as Harrison Ford.

Alden Ehrenreich is tasked to make a young Solo so captivating; at times it works, and others it fails flat. Part of it has to do with a story that save for one highly entertaining heist scene, lacks consequence. Failures to make Solo an fun character are stressed too because those around him are so much more compelling, played by actors with effortless charm.

Those include Emilia Clarke, who plays Solo’s girlfriend Qi’ra – the two of them are stuck on a slave planet run by literal vermin. When Han escapes, he teams up with a mercenary Beckett (Woody Harrelson), and later requests the help of a galactic smuggler, gambler, and lover in Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). Both regular grab the center of attention in their scenes.

That Solo is surrounded by far more interesting characters doesn’t help the overall product – even when he meets Chewbacca for the first time, and enlists him to fly and fight and thieve, there is something lacking.

The newer entries in the Star Wars catalog have found great acting and a lot of new, intriguing storytelling (or maybe just the former in the case of The Force Awakens), and so it’s hard for Solo to live up to that. Despite some fun set pieces, this film feels both forced and unnecessary, dutiful but stagnant. I didn’t need to know what the Kessel Run was exactly – I just enjoyed that Han liked to brag about it.

Instead we follow him to the fateful locale in the galaxy, a mining town that presents an opportunity for Han and Beckett to repay their debts to a vicious syndicate leader Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). While Han was able to escape his home planet, Qi’ra had an alternate route, one we are not aware of but that found herself in the company of Vos. That adds a bit of mystery to the proceedings, which are utterly familiar by now. There is a droid with an attitude (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, a woman!), whose relationship with Lando seems more sympathetic than any other in the film, jumps to light speed, and an array of weird creatures.

Of course there are too allusions and asides to the known chronology of films, and an ending, that not surprisingly, dictates there are more stories here to be told. Provided they hire the right director.

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