Solo: A Star Wars Story promises to tell fans what Han got up to before joining Luke and Leia in the original trilogy, and why he became reclusive besides his devoted Wookie, Chewbacca.
Disclaimer: I am new to this fandom, having only completed my 2017 New Year’s resolution to watch Star Wars on December 31.
Watching Solo, I think the idea it tells the titular character’s “backstory” is generous.
Young Han, played by Alden Ehrenreich, escapes his home planet.
His love interest Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) fails to escape with him, so he vows to learn to fly and come back for her.
Yes, that’s it. The universe that brought us the no-nonsense Princess Leia took the disappointingly-easy plot route of lost love to shape the storyline. Very Disney.
I was hoping for a glimpse of Han’s parentage, to see where it really began for the supercilious smuggler. He might be Han Solo, but he had to come from somewhere.
Soon we move past boy-pining-for-girl and Han becomes a soldier in the Imperial Army and attempts to join senior scoundrel Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) who instead uses him as Wookie-food.
Han however charms the Wookiee, Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), convincing him to pair his brawn with Han’s brain to escape a life of slavery.
Hence begins the greatest bromance in the galaxy.
Han leaves to begin a life of deception, beginning with the complicated theft and safe delivery of coaxium fuel to Crimson Dawn’s Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany).
Han has Chewie, so it is time to get the key to the theft, the Millennium Falcon.
Han and Chewie must win the spaceship from gambler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), in a hilarious game of who is the better smuggler/charmer/cards player.
Lando’s droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) is welcome comic relief, although it is kind of disturbing to see she isn’t just self-confident, Lando is legitimately in love with a droid.
After the coaxium is stolen, of course there is confrontation. Who is on whose side? What is Qi’ra’s big secret about how she escaped and ended up working with Vos?
The problem with prequels being made after original movies is the plot holes regarding newly-introduced major characters.
What happened to Qi’ra during the events of the original trilogy? We see her working with Darth Maul, who we see in Episode I. She was in a rather powerful position, so it’s fair to wonder where she ended up.
Ehrenreich filled some enormous shoes playing the role made famous by Harrison Ford and, while he nailed Han’s signature smirk and can rock a belt, the sarcastic, dry humour was definitely below-par.
A lot of what we see in Solo we can figure out for ourselves — a poor young man escapes from home, becomes a pilot and lives a life of crime. We all knew this before, so I was disappointed the development of Han’s character didn’t go deeper than that.
Rotten Tomatoes summed it up perfectly, saying Solo is “flawed yet fun”. Star Wars fans will enjoy watching it, but it certainly won’t be their favourite movie in the franchise.