Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story has been surrounded by whispers of “issues” since its pre-production.  Many Star Wars fans didn’t know what to make of all the rumors and reshoots. The same fans knew very little about the film’s star, Alden Ehrenreich, but they did know they loved Han Solo.  Alden wasn’t just stepping into the Millennium Flacon , he was stepping onto hallowed ground.

What story would Solo tell? What fun Star Wars easter eggs would be revealed? Who was Paul Bettany playing? Should they’ve made a Lando movie instead?

Solo tells the story of a young Han Solo and how he became the Solo fans know and love. He befriends a Wookie (Chewbacca) and joins Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his crew. After a heist job goes bad, Beckett owes crime lord Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) a lot of money. To make up for the botched heist, Becakett and his new crew agree to pull off an even more dangerous heist. To pull it off this impossible mission, they need a ship…and that’s where Lando (Donald Glover) comes in.

The Star Wars Universe took a page out of Marvel Studios playbook and made Solo a genre film. At its core, Solo is a heist film that includes Star Wars characters. It’s everything you’d want form a heist movie with a few recognizable characters playing key roles. Hiding the Star Wars stuff in a familiar story structure to tell these types of stories. It allows the writers and directors to deliver a blockbuster that doesn’t have to take a lot of risk to be entertaining.

Alden Ehrenreich was the big question mark going in. By enlisting Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany, Thandie Newton, and Emilia Clarke to do the heavy lifting, it allows Alden to be more comfortable in his role as Solo and not have to carry the film by himself. Alden doesn’t jump off the screen with the same charm as Harrison Ford, but he doesn’t take anything off-the-table and delivers exactly what the film ask him to do.

You can tell from the posters Donald Glover was going to be a fun Lando, and he doesn’t disappoint. He’s not impersonating Billy Dee Williams’ Lando; he’s doing a version of Lando that makes you believe this is what Lando would be like during this time in his life. Donald Glover needed more screen time, but he did just enough to make fans daydream about a Lando movie.

The real scene stealer is Phoebe Waller-Bridge who voices Lando’s droid companion L3-37. L3 is lively android that’s equally as entertaining as she is serious about a droid revolution. L3 is the best android depiction the Star Wars Universe ever had. There’s a laugh out loud conversation L3 has about her relationship with Lando that’s easily the funniest scene in the movie – and there are plenty of other laughs courtesy of L3.

Solo doesn’t disappoint with its action. The heist sequences are very well done with a nice balance of action and tension. There are a few visually stunning sequences that make Solo  a must see in the theater.  One Millennium Falcon sequence in the third act could easily be a scene from a Star Trek film.

There is something about these films that make them feel like a short vacation into a fantasy world and Solo has the same feeling  Some say the magic of Star Wars is transporting fans to a galactic battle of good vs evil. Even if the stories are predictable, fans are happy to be locked into the ride, no matter how long it last.

Solo thrives because it’s not a Star Wars film handcuffed to the Skywalker lineage – it’s a heist film with one of the most beloved characters int he franchise. There are plenty of easter eggs sprinkled throughout via names, places, and even a very cool cameo towards the end [don’t let anyone spoil it]. Star Wars fan or not, Solo is a fun ride that’s heavy nostalgia and action.  If you love Star Wars or heist films, this is the summer blockbuster for you.

Grade: B+

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