2018 has been a great year, thus far, regarding movie releases. We’ve seen incredible sequels with Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2. And we’ve seen plenty of other fantastic movies such as Black Panther and Ready Player One. 2017 was also a really solid year for movies, but it ended on a lower note with the release of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, which was panned by many critics and Star Wars’ die-hards. Following its initial announcements, I was not looking forward to the Solo movie. I have enjoyed Disney’s Star Wars releases (including The Last Jedi), but I was worried that Solo would finally step foot into the realm of over-saturation. However, once the trailers started dropping, I jumped aboard the hype train and here we are.
Solo: A Star Wars Story takes place between the events of Episode III and Episode IV. The film serves as a great origins tale for everyone’s favorite scruffy-looking nerf-herder. We get to witness Han Solo’s home planet, Corelia. We also see his first encounters with some of the series most famous characters such as Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). The stakes are not very high in this film, especially when compared to the other Star Wars films. That being said, I think that is part of what makes this movie feel so special. This film feels like it belongs in the Star Wars Universe alongside all of the other greats: The Empire Strikes Back, Rogue One, The Ewok Adventure (kidding), etc. The plot follows Solo on his journey to obtain a ship and save the girl. The plot itself is pretty standard, but the execution is marvelous. As expected in any Star Wars film, there are stunning visuals and awesome special effects. On top of that, this movie is full of cameos and it makes nods to the Star Wars “Legends” expanded universe. The Legends universe consists of a large number of expanded universe material that Disney labeled as ‘non-canon (not officially part of the story)’ following their acquisition of LucasFilm. It’s really awesome to see that they’re reincorporating some of these things that the fans want to see return to the canon, even if it’s simple nods or references. I think this film is something you could go into having not previously seen a Star Wars film, considering that the plot is fairly open and shut, but it’s clear that this movie was made for Star Wars fans.
Prior to the film’s release, there was a lot of speculation about how this film was going to turn out, especially with Alden Ehrenreich’s casting as Han Solo. This was concerning, since I was initially skeptical of this film’s potential, as mentioned above. However, I think Ehrenreich did a fantastic job at playing Solo. Everything from the voice to the mannerisms feel right at home with the character who was made ever-so-famous by the legendary Harrison Ford. The film, overall, was full of lovable characters. I found myself really caring about almost all of the characters within this film, just as I did in Rogue One. Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany, Emilia Clarke, and some other incredible actors fill the shoes of this film’s characters and they do a damn good job at doing so. The characters themselves feel like fully fleshed out characters with motives and personalities. This is not something that is often done well in prequel stories like this since generally the film only needs to successfully tell the tale of one-few characters. Nevertheless, Solo’s cast and writers did a phenomenal job developing characters that you can grow attached to and care about within the confines of it’s 2+ hour run-time.
Solo offers the sounds and effects that you would want from a Star Wars Movie, or a Star Wars Story, even. The music includes only a title song composed by the legendary John Williams, but John Powell did a fantastic job serving as the main composer. The compositions have a Star Wars feel to them, but they also have enough unique flavor where they feel tailored more to this standalone story. The sounds in the film beyond the score are incredible. The film is truly brought to life through both the stunning visual and sound effects. The explosions, the ships, the weapons all sport a level of realism in this fantasy world. My only gripe being that the beginning of the film appeared to be a tad too dark. This could have been an issue with the theater I saw the film in, but it was difficult to see what was going on for the bulk of the opening scene. That was the only point in the movie where this was an issue, thankfully.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is not a groundbreaking film, by any means. It takes a generic plot and beefs it up with a tremendous cast of characters. It bulks it up even further with a great score, sound and stunning visuals. The Star Wars Universe may be the most expansive fiction universe in history. Yet, somehow the director, Ron Howard, the cast, and everyone else involved managed to deliver a film with lower stakes that is worthy of standing alongside some of the best material the SW Universe has delivered, to date. For casual and die-hard Star Wars fans, this movie is an absolute must. For those who haven’t seen a Star Wars Film, I still think this movie is worth a viewing. Solo: A Star Wars Story easily ranks among my favorite films in the franchise.