Younger Hans Solo Has Grit and Drive
Solo: A Star Wars Story is a fun-filled, entertaining prequel; mostly due to its lead and co-stars. Alden Ehrenreich (Hans Solo) first caught my attention in the romantic gothic fantasy film Beautiful Creatures (2014) he plays a love-struck teen who dreams of leaving his oppressive small town of narrow-minded people. The two roles have similar elements; Han’s in love with Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) as he also schemes to escape— whereas here, he’s an indentured teen slave. There’s something about the twinkle in Ehrenreich’s eyes, the cocked-head and roguish half smile, this guy’s a charmer all right—one who’s usually up to mischief and grand plans. In Solo, his master plan is to pilot a spaceship. Flying is non-negotiable for him and when we ultimately view him in the cockpit—I guarantee you’ll be thinking—sweet!
Director Ron Howard, got on board after two of the former directors, Chris Lord and Phil Miller were let go over creative differences. George Lucas dreamed up Star Wars in 1977, due to the fact that he couldn’t get the rights to Flash Gordon—and the rest is history. Howard picked up the pieces and re-shot most of what was in place, adding his own touches, the goal was to keep the same story-line, just create a stand-alone unique film. And that it is. Father and son screenplay writers Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan, weave the back-story of a young Han Solo, fighting for his survival in the crime-ridden mean streets of the industrial shipbuilding planet Corellia.
From the get-go, Han is determined to get in the pilot’s seat, he eventually meets a heist boss, a strong-minded Beckett (Woody Harrelson) who’s assembling a team of rouges to perform risky heists that garner sky-rocket profit margins. In a mud-soaked scene, Han meets up with Chewbacca, (Joonas Suotamo), and when he discovers his name, he says irksomely, “I’m not saying that every time, I’ll call you Chewie.” Suotamo began his Star Wars journey in 2015 when he first appeared as Chewbacca in Star Wars: Episode VII. As a former 6’11” professional basketball player, he played basketball at Penn State, graduated in three and a half years with honors studying film and video. During the Red Carpet premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story, he was asked to ‘Wookiee roar’ on cue he then said his thank you’s to screenwriters Lawrence and Jonathan Kasda, “I especially love the line where I say, (makes Wookiee utterance).” He was also quoted as saying, “Thanks for giving me all of that dialogue.”
The special effects in the film are eye-popping in scope and grander; however, there are problems with the story-line. The first ‘mountain heist train’ scene is epic offering a fast-paced over-the-top run away intergalactic space train—that can easily race sideways. With dizzyingly shaky-cam action, we are aboard a runaway train. Near the conclusion of this somewhat lengthy scene, a female character self-sacrifices herself to save a male character—this just felt wrong; especially in light of so few female characters cast.
Even so, the supporting cast shines. Card gambler/smuggler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), at times, is a scene stealer. Clarke is also fascinating to watch as her character’s survival mode is in full gear. An original droid called L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge), is just quirky enough to set a light-comical tone, her character is utterly refreshing. Last but not least, the villain Dryden Vos an alien big-shot gangster, (Paul Bettany) brings us a memorable character. The lines on his face are not scars, rather a part of his DNA that glows red when he’s angry. He’s quick-tempered, more action than talk, and collects rare, valuable antiquities—with a psychopathic personality, that pretty much sums up Dryden Vos.
No need to give away more of the plot, Solo is best viewed with a clean slate. I can tell you a few questions will be answered: How did Han get his name? How old is Chewbacca? How did Han meet Chewbacca? How did Han win the Millennium Falcon? How did Lando Calrissian and Han meet?
Solo, pays homage to the Star Wars franchise while finding its persona. The score by John Williams is mixed with new compositions by John Powell, it creates a nostalgic feeling; the Star Wars overture plays in several vital scenes at just the right time. Yes, I got goosebumps upon hearing those famous notes and also left the theater with a smile on my face.
The Bottom-line: A stand alone film with great special effects, that pays homage to the Star Wars franchise while creating new and refreshing characters.
Sarah Knight Adamson© May 17, 2018