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Review: SOLO: A Star Wars Story

With a script short on depth, SOLO manages to present a story that entertains

No one knew what to expect when Disney began announcing stand alone films, but with the release of Rogue One the bar was immediately set high. It was the movie no one asked for but everyone found themselves loving. SOLO aimed to take the stand alone story one step further, centralizing the story around one of the beloved core characters of the series as opposed to presenting audiences with a fresh cast of characters. With a fan base as loyal as Star Wars has to offer, this could be a huge misstep. While the film’s cast does as much as they can with a plot heavy script, SOLO manages to present a story that entertains, while potentially adding depth to the universe.

The film places audiences sometime after Revenge of the Sith, and years before A New Hope, introducing us to a young Han played by Alden Ehrenreich. We are flung into the beginning of his journey, where admittedly it takes a moment to warm up to the new face. Make no mistakes though, Alden is Han. His performance, specifically Han’s unwarranted charisma seems to come naturally to Ehrenreich, who manages to be the only non-CGI character to stand out (L3 might just be everyone’s new favourite droid). In fact, Ehrenreich manages to pull a lot out of a title character whose traits are redundantly put on display throughout the film. If you don’t know that Han is a scoundrel with a heart of gold yet, SOLO will assure you do, to an almost problematic point.

On the topic of screenwriting, SOLO is a mixed bag. The film is heavy handed in plot and does little to develop the characters involved past their introductions. In ways it’s reminiscent of the prequels in it’s script simplicity, as opposed to the Last Jedi, which proved to be more than some needed or wanted. It is a shame when you do meet these characters because it’s clear that a lot could have been done here if properly explored. However, where the script suffers character-wise, it soars in plot. SOLO’s story is very entertaining, and with the tight edit, it makes for a very well paced film. Things keep moving, but they never get too lofty, making it something that’s easily digestible for all. Additionally, the writers and Disney drop some incredible plot developments that show the audience that they’re not doing away with everything that’s been built in the animated series.

What works? Well, this film sings on a technical level. The cinematography is actually some of the best that audiences have seen in a Star Wars film. From composition to colour, a lot of these shots tell us more than the actors ever are given room to do. Sound design, as with most Star Wars films, is stellar, with an original soundtrack that builds beautifully off of past Star Wars scores.

SOLO along with Alden had some big shoes to fill. While Alden steps into the role beautifully, the script gives little room for the rest of the cast to do the same. Rogue One will continue to be the bar to hit however, as this film drops the ball where it soared: making us care about the characters. One would think that character would take precedence over in a film detailing the history of one of the most famous Star Wars characters to ever grace the screen, but creating a heist movie came first. While entertaining, SOLO lacks the depth that would make it a repeat watch, and a real treasure in the Star Wars universe.

Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a Toronto based filmmaker and creative mad man. Legend has it that he spent most of his childhood locked away in a cell beta testing Netflix.