I’ll just go ahead and say it: It’s an okay movie, but a fun Star Wars film. And that’s all I needed out of it!
All of the rumors that was circling around this production had me and many fans worried that it was going to be a disaster. From Chris Miller and Phil Lord (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street) being booted out of the director’s seat and Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Arrested Development) filling in, to Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Ceasar!) having an acting coach on set, these were behind the scenes problems that lowed the hype (at least, the few that this movie had) and expectations as to what Lucasfilm could possibly do with Han Solo as a main protagonist. I’m glad to say that the film isn’t that disaster fans felt like it was going to be, but does carry it’s issues.
Starting of with negatives, the first act was yanky for me. You had Solo going from one place to another and A LOT of information is thrown to you in the face. I do appreciate the fact that there was a lot going on in this movie since it takes 10 years after Episode III, and it feels like a Star Wars movie. Lot’s of references to known planets, the designs and the different alien species look and act like they’re from the universe. But something about having lots of things at the same time bugged me a bit. I was looking focus on the plot, but there’s stuff that’s being thrown at you all at once. This can get a little disoriented, even for fans of the franchise.
Some jokes don’t land as well, especially in this first act. It’s pretty noticeable where was Lloyd and Miller’s input and what Ron Howard had to fix in the first 30 mins of the film. Also, I found the pacing off putting as well. Again, it’s that whole “trying to fit a lot of information in a short time” killed the vibe a bit. You’re trying to keep up with what’s happening on screen, but at the same time you’re being expected to know who is who and what is what in the smuggling world.
The film obviously tried to play it safe. Of course, there isn’t much stakes running around here since we all know Han and Chewie will be ok as the appear in Episode IV (shocker, I know), but there could’ve been something Ron Howard could do with a project like this. Invent a fresh take on the character, take some risk with the story material, separate it with what was establish and take the Star Wars lore into new places. But this is Disney we’re talking about; and knowing them, they aren’t going to pull another “The Last Jedi” a second time, especially with all of the behind-the-scenes issues I just mentioned. I won’t deny that I was pleased with what I saw, but I still feel that, even though that I was never on board with this movie, there could’ve been more to this. It feels like the whole movie is a check list that Disney made in order to please fans.
Thankfully, this isn’t “prequels” bad. I must address that there were some positives regarding the film. The action was great, cinematography was on point with some amazing shots, some really impressive action pieces (including the train heist and the famous Kessle Run), and an all around solid cast.
Speaking of the cast, let me answer a question that most fans had: Does Alden Ehrenreich portrayed a good Han Solo? Short answer: Yes! We all know that Han Solo is one of the most badass characters in the Star Wars franchise and in pop culture itself, so naturally only Harrison Ford can do him justice. What I appreciate about Ehrenreich’s take is that he doesn’t do a cheap imitation of Ford and try to give a new life to the character. He might not look like Ford and he did played it safe as the famous smuggler, but by the time the movie ended I was convinced that he’s Han. His gestures, the way he speaks and the snarky attitude he gave is more than enough to convince me he did a great role.
There’s going to be A LOT of people who will disagree with me, and that’s expected. Nostalgia is a powerful weapon whenever our favorite heroes are being interpreted by other actors, but by push it to the side maybe people can give him a chance to shine. I certainly did, because thinking that anyone can fill in the shoes of Ford is just a waste of time. That said, I’m on board with Ehrenreich as Han.
As for the rest of the cast, Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) did a solid job with the few that she had to work with Qi’ra, another smuggler and Han’s love interest. I would’ve like for her to get more screen time and develop her character. Woody Harrelson (Zombieland, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) as Beckette was solid, as he usually is. Unfortunately, his character falls in that same predictability as Q’ira.
Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca was actually great, to the point were I was shocked to find out Peter Mayhew wasn’t reprising his role on this on. I adored how Han and Chewie met, and how they turn from complete strangers who need each other at first to the famous duo in the franchise. It was hilarious to hear Han speaking Shyriiwook.
Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos, the main “villain” of the film, was serviceable. I’m actually impress how he got to interpret this role as it he got more space to act in this film than when he portrays Vision in the MCU. Sadly, he falls in the the cliche villain role, and it’s a darn shame since he would’ve been a stand out.
The one who steals the show for me is Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. This is the best part of the whole film. It’s no secret Glover is a phenomenal actor, comedian, singer, but he needed to prove it to the general audiences. He was born to play this character. He nailed everything about what Billy Dee Williams did with the character in Empire. He’s cocky, smooth, a total gentleman, never loses control, and always fashionable (his closets full of capes was hilarious). Even the way he talks is such an exact copy of Williams and I was loving every single minute of it. Excluding the fact that I’m (and many of the Geek Motivation crew) a huge fan of Glover, he totally stole the show for me. I can’t wait to see Glover on more roles inside and outside of the Star Wars franchise.
I know it sounds like I’m contradicting myself, but I enjoyed the film overall. It’s sad that there could’ve been more that they can work with, given what I saw. Surprisingly, I wanted to know more about Han, Lando, Chewie and Qi’ra at the end of the film, especially when I saw that they left space for a sequel (due to an amazing surprise cameo, which I won’t spoil). Again, it has it’s issues. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, some might even say that this is the worst Star Wars film of all time (let’s face it: the fandom is very hard to please), but I came out happy that I gave it the chance. I hope that all of the actors double down on giving more life to their characters for the sequel, including Glover, and that the story that they’re going for takes a new form. For the meantime, as a Star Wars film it’s not a bust.
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Written by: Christian Quiles