Thursday, January 17, 2019

Movie with Abe: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story
Directed by Ron Howard
Released May 25, 2018

It’s been a busy few years for the Star Wars franchise. After the original films were released three years apart beginning in 1977 to acclaim both for their entertainment value and cutting-edge effects, a re-release twenty years later proved very successful before the prequel trilogy debuted in 1999 to extremely poor reviews. The third slate of films began in 2015 and has been doing incredibly well, now coming out every two years with standalone installments in between. This is the second of those, the first to open in the middle of the year and a sign that not every concept related to this franchise is worth making into a movie.

Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) stay alive on the streets of Corellia by employing their wits and skills, but they are separated when they try to make an escape for a better life. Determined to get back to rescue the woman he loves, Han trains to become a pilot before being kicked out of the flight academy and falling in with a crew of criminals led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson). His quest to find Qi’ra involves turning initial enemies Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) into friends before going up against dangerous kingpin Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany).

There’s no denying the appeal of Han Solo as a character, one of the best instances of comic relief in the original films. Harrison Ford made him unforgettable, and Ehrenreich does bear a physical resemblance to him even if he doesn’t possess the same charisma. Much of this film is focused on callbacks to fan-favorite elements featured in previous films, a device that occasionally works well but more often than not feels tired. Just as “Rogue One” felt like an installment created only to fill in gaps that didn’t necessarily need to be filled in, this story feels extremely unnecessary, providing little additional context and excitement that makes its existence worthwhile.

The cast of this film is made up mostly of actors who are currently enjoying relatively newfound success in their careers, from Clarke, who stars on the immensely popular “Game of Thrones,” to Glover, who created and stars in “Atlanta,” to Thandie Newton, a recent Emmy winner from “Westworld” who plays one of Beckett’s associates, with more established performers Harrelson and Bettany there to have fun. As usual, it’s the portrayer of a droid who steals most of the film’s scenes, and that’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, star of “Fleabag” and creator of “Killing Eve,” as Lando’s L3-37. The big space-centered action sequences fans have come to expect from this series aren’t really present, which is the biggest disappointment. This film’s title is meant to reference its character’s last name, but it’s probably a more fitting descriptor of how this film shouldn’t be considered and grouped with the rest of the franchise.


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