People love to hate Star Wars ever since it passed to Disney. A lot of criticism for The Last Jedi is entirely unfounded, and it’s the consequence of overrating what the past of the franchise was. And that includes Han Solo’s value as a character.
Let’s be honest, Han Solo in the original trilogy is nothing more than a one-dimensional archetype. Do we love him? Sure, as a lot of Star Wars was indeed archetype back then. Only Vader and, on a minor note, Luke Skywalker were developed in a serious manner.
In The Force Awakens, Ford’s performance is far superior to the previous three episodes, mainly because Han is now a father. Excuse me, was.
Solo: A Star Wars Story continues what Disney and Abrams started in Episode VII: give depth to the character. This time, through its origin story. And, honestly, Ron Howard’s movie succeeds.
Let’s start by saying that Solo doesn’t do to Han what A Phantom Menace did with Vader/Anakin. We do not see kid Han, we do not see him grow up. We see him in the first phase of his adulthood. In a way, we can say Solo‘s story wants to show us what made Han become the person who shot first.
Because of that, Alden Ehrenreich does not play the same character just yet. He is a younger, more optimistic and less cynical Han Solo who is more convinced of his ‘bad boy’ attitude. Yes, this movie also explores and expands the conflict between his apparent and internal nature, shading it a bit.
Of course, Solo is also fan service. And most of it works because is not invasive, except for one, maybe, but because it will have obvious consequences on a narrative level.
Going back to the actual content of the story, what works best in Solo is indeed everything about him and the characters revolving around him. I really liked Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). Both are crucial as they are the ones who influence Han the most; in a way, you could say they forge his character.
Two other characters are worthy to be mentioned: Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany).
Let’s start with the latter: despite having limited screen time, Paul Bettany showcases a compelling and menacing performance. He passes from sympathetic to condescending in a matter of seconds, yet he perfectly conveys it. The makeup helps, no doubt about that, but I couldn’t help and enjoy his performance. Also, I don’t deny that I might be impressed due to the incredible contrast with his performance as Vision in Avengers: Infinity War.
I didn’t quite enjoy Donald Glover’s Lando. I know, this might be a quite popular opinion. His performance was okay, nothing mind-blowing (Paul Bettany’s was more memorable), but it wasn’t quite as entertaining as everyone hyped it up to be. Also, the pansexuality subplot was stupid. Don’t get me wrong, I do not think being a pansexual is a bad thing, but did they really have to include droids in this concept? Seriously, the idea of a sexual relationship between him and L3 is just straight-up stupid, and it shows in the film.
Some people highlighted the lack of stakes in Solo as a negative aspect. I wholly disagree, as the movie indeed works best when the story concentrates on Han’s personal life, whether it is about the present or hints at the future (like at the end). I also appreciated the fact the Kessel run wasn’t the center of the story, as it was just an anecdotal line even in the original trilogy.
To wrap this thing up, I must say I liked Solo: A Star Wars Story. Maybe it doesn’t add anything game-changing regarding the expanded universe, but at the same time, it provides the viewer with some entertaining two hours and fifteen minutes.
And I’m happy that we might get more Alden as Han.
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