Solo: A Star Wars Story – certainly not Indiana Jones in space.

Han Solo is arguably one of the most iconic movie characters ever, on par with running legends such as James Bond and Ellen Ripley. Wouter is curious if Solo: A Star Wars Story does justice to this icon …

Who never wants to know ‘the odds’? Who does not say ‘I love you’ but ‘I know’? Who is always ‘in it for the money’ until peace in the universe is at stake? Who gave the word ‘scoundrel’ a positive connotation? Indeed, our man Han Solo, played in the past by arguably one of the most unforgettable actors of all time: Harrison Ford. Whether you like it or not, the bosses at LucasArts and Disney have decided that the charismatic captain of the Millennium Falcon deserves his own movie, which is the second spin-off Star Wars movie after Rogue One. And so it came to pass that Solo: A Star Wars Story went into production and one after another worrying news story reached us …

Solo: A Star Wars Story – certainly not Indiana Jones in space

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Troubling Omens

The Solo: A Star Wars Story media storm started with good news: Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, the writers / directors of The Lego Movie, 21 and 22 Jump Street, were hired as directors, something my salivary glands started working right away . A comedy starring Han Solo? That really sounds like a spin-off, like something that differs significantly from the Star Wars trilogies! Plus, Lord and Miller are young, fresh filmmakers who could inject a good dose of citrus freshness into the Star Wars franchise. But then the storm started and my eyebrows started to frown: Lord & Miller were fired, it was rumored that the new young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) needed acting lessons, the marketing campaign got underway suspiciously and then the particularly late appeared trailer also received with a shrug. But the most disturbing news for me was that the fresh Lord & Miller were being replaced by Ron Howard, a Hollywood dinosaur whose last, really good movie was actually years ago. About the opposite of citrus fruit fresh. Sure, Howard has made great movies like Rush and A Beautiful Mind, but on the other hand there are flicks that you forget when the credits roll: The Dilemma, Inferno, In the Heart of the Sea… some I’m not even sure I’ve seen have got!

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Changing of the Guard

In fact, Ron Howard made exactly the movie I expected: Solo: A Star Wars Story is entertaining, but pretty easy. Like a Lambo that is not allowed from the built-up area; under the engine is something that wants to growl with rage, but it should only purr a little. Han Solo deserves to star in a movie full of jokes, spectacle and adventure, like an Indiana Jones in space. But instead, I was slightly entertained in a film that is strikingly humorous and colorless. There are hardly any impressive locations; we are going from a dark planet where literally everything is dark blue, to a mud planet where … yes, everything is brown, to a snow planet where everything is white and black. Of course there is a Cantina-esque scene, unsurprisingly, Solo meets certain key figures in the Star Wars universe and, yes, there is a tour of the Millennium Falcon for the first time. Except for that last scene, none of these events are terribly memorable or spectacular, but neither tedious nor fanboy-dividing. Nice and safe, almost as if the script took into account the anger that the makers of The Last Jedi have taken on by all the risks they took. This is of course not possible, because when The Last Jedi came out it was already clear what the story of Solo would turn out to be, so Solo’s reasonable lack of salt is probably due to almost as a result of the aforementioned production problems. This film had to be finished (on time) and so a reliable, professional dude was hired to make something of it. And it must be great that Howard managed to make a nice film, whether what Lord & Miller left behind was a huge mess or not.

Solo: A Star Wars Story – certainly not Indiana Jones in space

Solo: A Star Wars Story – these guys and then some droids

Just as the plot of Solo: A Star Wars Story is okay, so are the characters that serve it … adequate. Protagonist Ehrenreich occasionally knows how to squeeze out a smile reminiscent of Harrison Ford and his stature certainly imitates the self-righteousness of the space smuggler. I don’t think fanboys can get angry about this, but nobody will crown young Solo a modern icon either. Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian is cool, but less impressive than you might think, and Chewbacca is a familiar presence and little more than that. Furthermore, Woody Harrelson can go on as a kind of unreliable father figure and Paul Bettany is such a bad guy who is nice to cover up his aggression; I like that. Still, it is a bit strange to see these reasonable A-listers play new characters in a Star Wars movie, because usually more unknown people are cast. Speaking of strangely, Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones fame shines the hardest in Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is probably mostly because Ron Howard didn’t have time to pull off the most fantastic performances from his cast. As an insider said, the difference between the professional Howard and the young duo was about 17 takes per scene: Lord and Miller sometimes needed 20, while Howard could take it in 3. This efficiency was necessary, but was it also desirable?

Solo: A Star Wars Story – citrus fruit fresh?

Solo: A Star Wars Story, on the one hand, is exactly what I feared when it was announced that a Star Wars movie would be released every year: it makes the franchise less and less special. This is not an ‘epic movie event’, but just a fun sci-fi movie of the kind that, if one of them comes out every other year, makes Star Wars less and less special. On the other hand, it knows, more than Rogue One, to distinguish itself from the trilogy films as a spin-off by tackling it on a smaller scale. It’s not an all-important battle against the Empire / First Order and it doesn’t end, as always, with a massive space battle that alternates with a massive battle on the surface of a planet. This standard approach would also not suit a character like Solo, a realization that this film could have made very citrus fruit fresh, were it not for the fact that it is presented so colorless and flat. In a perfect world, Lord & Miller would have taken the responsibility of a Star Wars movie and got LucasFilm’s permission to turn it into a crazy, Guardian of the Galaxy-esque comedy. Or had Ron Howard had more time. Or was there never a movie about Han Solo. In the latter case, the world would have just kept spinning, I’m afraid. And then Han would only have done the Kessel Run in our imagination in 12 Parsecs (rounded down) …

Solo: A Star Wars Story – certainly not Indiana Jones in space

Conclusion

Solo: A Star Wars Story – certainly not Indiana Jones in space

SCORE:

65 Solo: A Star Wars Story is a bit flat, colorless entertainment with few hugely memorable moments. It’s certainly not bad, won’t anger few Star Wars fanboys, and feels more like an original spin-off than Rogue One, but it’s barely more impressive than some prequel parts. Solo: A Star Wars Story is a bit of flat, colorless entertainment with few hugely memorable moments. It’s certainly not bad, won’t anger few Star Wars fanboys, and feels more like an original spin-off than Rogue One, but it’s barely more impressive than some prequel parts.