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  Solo: A Star Wars Story We're Mainly Here For Chewbacca
Year: 2018
Director: Ron Howard
Stars: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Joonas Suotamo, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau, Erin Kellyman, Linda Hunt, Ian Kenny, Jon Tui, Warwick Davis, Clint Howard, Anthony Daniels, Kiran Shah
Genre: Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Han (Alden Ehrenreich) is stuck on the planet Corellia, but he has no plans to stick around - no, he and his childhood sweetheart Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) will get off the gangster-infested rock with its Galactic Empire providing the rule of law and finally explore the galaxy. However, first they must buy their passage from it, and to do so Han has stolen a precious vial of a material that can be made into an incredibly powerful fuel. Unfortunately, the local boss, Lady Proxima (voiced by Linda Hunt), has agents everywhere and traps them both, so when the couple are brought before her, Han must use all his ingenuity to escape once and for all - but what if Qi'ra cannot join him?

There was much discussion across the internet when Solo: A Star Wars Story didn't perform as well as expected at the international box office when it was released, with a few theories as to why that was. This was judging it as a Star Wars movie, of course, as by many other movies' standards it did fine, not all-time box office champion levels, but it made a profit, just not a massive one as something regarded as a licence to print money in cinematic terms. You could nevertheless envisage much soul searching from Disney as to where it all went wrong: their Marvel efforts continued to make mountains of cash for them, so what had gone wrong with George Lucas' creation?

Maybe the biggest flaw was not down to some of the conspiracy theories floating around, mainly pointing the finger at a supposed, unwanted female influence on the franchise, not that it was a series that had historically been great with female characters, but it was by no means a men only zone either, and there were plenty of female fans of the series anyway. Nope, the biggest flaw was that it was just scraping by as an okay film, rather than a future classic as the Star Wars movies had been built up as in the minds of the huge fanbase and casual viewer alike, and when you present a middling entry into a long-running story that meant so much in pop cultural terms, it was bound to be judged far harsher than some untested new kid on the block.

Han Solo was one of the most beloved characters in the original trilogy, and his return in The Force Awakens was the cue for nostalgic rhapsodising a-plenty at the time, but recasting him with a younger actor was a tricky proposition at best, especially when Ehrenreich was unproven in carrying such a major production. He was fine as far as the material he was given went, but Harrison Ford had genuine movie star charisma, whatever you thought of his acting prowess, and this guy, well, he was more a character actor than leading man judging by his endeavours here. You would certainly never look at him and think, there's a young Harrison Ford, no matter his occasional attempts to imitate the star in facial expressions and line deliveries, and that was a problem: consciously or not, Solo was such a famous persona you were always making comparisons to before.

Surrounding him were, again, many expert technicians, capable performers, and a production that had much experience in making blockbusters, yet somehow nothing here convinced this was a rip-snorting adventure in its own right, the script too keen on slavishly referencing what had gone before rather than being its own entity. Notoriously, previous directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller had been fired - or had walked, it wasn't clear - citing creative differences, which usually means shouting matches, and the industry's definition of a safe pair of hands, Ron Howard, was recruited to guide the work home. Now, previous directors of the Star Wars universe were not exactly wildman auteurs, but there was a dutiful sense of workmanlike professionalism to Solo, not anything edge of the seat exciting or even laugh out loud funny (what jokes there were wound up knowing instead of witty). It reminded one of the Star Wars knock-offs, especially Titan A.E. if anyone recalled that flop, or maybe a drab imitation of Guardians of the Galaxy which itself was an imitation. Not bad enough to justify huge whinges, but not exactly brilliant either. Music by John Powell (with John Williams bits).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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