If you would like to listen to myself and fellow LAMB members break down this movie – twice – check out the LAMBCast review of Solo, both of them!
Solo is the first truly stand-alone Star Wars movie to be released. Previously, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, was actually more of an episode – episode 3.85. In this case, Solo takes place shortly after episode 3, long before the events of Rogue One.
We are introduced to a young Han as he and his lady friend Qi’ra are ‘scumrats’ on Corellia. It’s a shipbuilding planet, loyal to the empire, but run by various crime syndicates and the crime bosses that work for them. Han and Qi’ra are working for Lady Proxima, but Han has just successfully stole a bit of refined Coaxium (which seems to be hyperfuel that is much in demand). He stages an attack on Lady Proxima, and the two of them take off, attempting to bribe their way off the planet with the Coaxium. Han makes it through, Qi’ra does not. She tells him to run, he joins the Imperial Navy in the hopes of getting off-world, getting a ship, and coming back to Corellia to rescue Qi’ra.
We cut to three years later, where Han has been busted down to infantry and he and his company are on some muddy planet attempting to take a ridge from an enemy when Han encounters a group of thieves/scoundrels attempting to steal a ship. He tries to join them, but ends up thrown in a pit and meeting Chewbacca. Eventually he joins a crew, and I’m going to tell you their plan, because it’s a little complicated and I think it bears explaining. Tobais Beckett and his wife Val, along with their friend Rio, steal an imperial ship because they need it to steal a case of Coaxium from a train to take to Dryden Vos of the Crimson Dawn Crime Syndicate.
That part makes sense, but the heist goes all wrong thanks to the interference of Enfys Nest and her Skyriders. Without the payload, Han, Chewie and Beckett go to Vos, learn Qi’ra is working for him, and decide to run another heist in an attempt to bargain for their lives from Vos. To do this, they need more Coaxium. It turns out there’s an unrefined stash under the spice mines of Kessel. Once you grab it, you need to get it refined before it explodes. To do that, you have to get it from Kessel to a refinery on Savereen. To do that, you need a really fast ship to do the Kessel Run, and to do that, they need Lando Calrissian and the Millenium Falcon.
By now, you’ve heard that the reviews of this aren’t that great, but let me tell you – I really enjoyed it. The movie is directed by Ron Howard, even though it was originally supposed to be directed by Lord & Miller from the Lego Movie. Apparently their take was just a little too slap-sticky, and not quite what was right for the character, so Ron Howard came in to finish it up, and I for one am really glad that he did. The movie is super fun, and plenty entertaining. It feels very much like a space-western, and the cast was wonderful.
- Alden Ehrenreich does a great job of playing a young Han Solo, and not trying to be a young Harrison Ford. It’s a tough task, and I think he does a good job.
- Joonas Suotamo plays Chewbacca, and one of the great thrills of this movie is seeing Chewie and Han meet, and begin what will become one of the epic friendships in the galaxy. It’s also great to see a younger actor in the suit who is a little more action-capable.
- Woody Harrelson plays Beckett, a very Woody Harrelson-type scoundrel with fancy blaster skills and a ‘don’t trust anybody’ attitude. He doesn’t spend much time mourning his losses on the first job before jumping into the second, but I did enjoy his character. Thandie Newton plays Val Beckett – she also doesn’t trust anyone, and is convinced they do not need any help on their job.
- Jon Favreau provides the voice for Rio Durant, the third member of the Beckett crew. He’s fun and entertaining, and all CGI.
- Emilia Clarke plays Qi’Ra, and she gets more interesting as the movie goes on. Once Han finds her again, she keeps telling him that he doesn’t know her anymore, and has no idea what she’s capable of. I also look forward to seeing more scenes with her new boss, because I love that character.
- Donald Glover is easily one of the best pieces of this movie. In his first appearance he sounds and feels like a young Billy Dee Williams, he’s all slick charm, and it’s very easy to see how he will become the Lando we all know.
- Paul Bettany plays Dryden Vos, and he goes from charming and compassionate in one scene to merciless and threatening in the next. For a character that was originally motion capture Michael K. Williams, this is still pretty great.
- Pheobe Waller-Bridge provides the motion capture for Lando’s droid L3-37. She has a bizarre droids-rights side plot that sort of helps to advance the plot, but is a bit annoying.
- Erin Kellyman plays Enfys Nest, she and her band of Skyriders are great and terrifying.
- Linda Hunt does the voice for the Lady Proxima puppet.
Overall, it’s not perfect. There are a couple of character moments that made no sense (Lando would not care that much about a droid, and Han would have chosen his own name), but the action set pieces are fantastic. There are a lot of practical effects – Lady Proxima in particular is amazing, and the aliens around the card tables are spectacular. Lando is fantastic, his droid is annoying, but the best parts are anything with Han and Chewie. It’s what you wanted to see in this movie, and honestly, I really hope they get to make another one, because I just want to see Han and Chewie have more adventures.
8 out of 10 – go see it with no expectations, you’ll enjoy it.