Solo: A Star Wars Story is the second spin-off of the epic space opera anthology of Star Wars films that is fully dedicated to one of the most legendary characters Han Solo in his younger years. Although the army of Star Wars fans expected an origin story that would unveil the details of the beginning of Han’s life path, this piece of cinematography shows him as a fully formed and self-sufficient personality.
The story unfolds in Corellia, a grimy industrial planet rife with thieves, mobsters, and other bad guys involved in fishy gangs. But this place is also a homeworld of the protagonist Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), who are the most decent people in this depressing place. The bond between the two is of vague nature as it is unclear whether they are a married couple or just a boyfriend and a girlfriend. Maybe, they are just friends. The chances are they frown upon social labels. Apparently, Han cannot stay away from influential mob bosses and gets embroiled in their sordid affairs. He is also daring enough to pull off a clever ruse and deceive a slug queen in order to make a sufficient sum of money to be able to escape from the slums with Qi’ra. Unfortunately, their pursuers catch the girl before they can board, and Han has to take off on his own.
Han becomes a part of the Imperial Navy working as a pilot. Then we become the witnesses of the moment when the protagonist acquires his surname “Solo”, because he does everything alone and has no family. In three years time, Han makes his appearance as a foot soldier who partakes in a battle on the planet Mimban. At this point, he encounters Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) who heads up a group of criminals and decides to collaborate with him. Their unsavory missions lead them to Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), as well as reunite Han back with Qi’ra. Together, this team with Beckett in charge has to loot unrefined coaxium, a hyperspace fuel, located deep in the mines of the planet Kessel and bring it to a crime boss Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany).
The film appears to be action-packed: viewers will witness laser battles, pursuits, betrayal, sumptuous piloting, and even gambling – all they have ever expected from a Han Solo movie. But that is what makes the film completely predictable. The film crew makes not enough efforts to raise the bar and exceed fans’ expectations. Obviously, the current era of Star Wars is just a commercial tool that helps make a killing on lethargic nostalgia. And this clearly comes to light in Solo, a movie that is brought to life at the expense of some ambiguous references to the original story.
Additionally, many dialogues in the flick appear to be suitable merely for a high school play or musical. What about his iconic blaster? Beckett simply tosses him the gun before the fight. Here you go! How did Chewbacca and Han meet? Well, they just bump into each other!
What is more, this shallow rendering of Han Solo’s story also concerns the creation of the character himself. Although the characters of the Star Wars world have never been complex in their nature, there seems to be more than meets the eye with regard to Han Solo. He is a self-sufficient warrior born in a cutthroat universe where one has to do things one will be ashamed of in order to survive. This is where Solo’s allure comes from.
Rather than focusing on the beginning of the transition from riff-raff to a hero, Han Solo emerges as a fully developed character in the Stars Wars universe. This Solo is nothing like the one we see in A New Hope, whose misdemeanors become few and far between in Return of the Jedi. Considering all the events and circumstances that surround Solo, they all seem to show him in a superficial context rather than add some depth. We don’t get to observe his transformation from Solo to Han Solo; the film developers deprive its fans of an opportunity to see Solo as a kid making wrong choices and mistakes trying to pave the way for his future in the harsh galaxy. Han did not regard himself being a hero in A New Hope while in Solo, he is nothing but hero.
All of these blunders partially stem from an uneven and overwhelmed script (and Ehrenreich’s aloof acting does not alleviate the situation either). Ehrenreich fails to add some charm to his character and make it an alluring antihero. Glover’s Lando, however, is more of the character we expect to see; he is skillful enough to create a veneer of kindness while being a bad guy. Donald Glover deserves some credit here as he is tough act to follow.
None of this comes as a bombshell, especially considering that there had been strife and creative differences between Phil Lord and Christopher Miller who were later replaced by Ron Howard. According to an anonymous source, the former went out of their way to produce a flick that would be out of this world. They wanted the picture to show Solo as a maverick whose character would be defined by a bunch of unexpected yet compelling episodes.
What is obvious from Solo is that Lucasfilm and Disney failed to make the advent of the new era of Star Wars majestic. Therefore, while the prequels came out as unique masterpieces, Solo hardly deserves to be called a masterpiece.