You Know It’s Solo, A Star Wars Story Not Quite Rogue

25 May

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Harrison Ford is Han Solo. He made being a scruffy nerf herder charming. As the daring Indiana Jones, he knows when not to cheat death. George Lucas had a vision with the Young Indiana Jones series, to educate first and entertain second, the end product worked. Sean Patrick Flanery made us believe he was Indy and he was young enough so audiences can imagine his ageing process.

At least ten years must exist between when Solo (played slightly convincingly by Alden Ehrenreich) is seen running amok in the streets of Corellia trying to escape his life as a street urchin. He joins the Imperial Army and is soon kicked out due to insubordination. He hooks up with criminals and they hope to commit the Ocean’s 11 (technically not) of all heists. But it all goes terribly wrong, horribly wrong.

The love interest, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) helps motivate this version of Han to come home. In Star Wars: Rebels, Ezra Bridger wants to free his homeworld from the Empire. This film features a take of that tale, but instead puts Solo in the role, doubling as a version of Bridger—and an intro with moments out of “Spark of Rebellion” and “Breaking Ranks.” This young man is more concerned about achieving freedom from the overlords. But when he’s separated from his gal, his only goal is to free her. Some of this film’s plotting feels derivative.

This movie does not feel like a Star Wars product until much later when the action gets intense and The Empire becomes involved. Some fans will welcome a look at the criminal element. This work tries to mirror elements from Rogue One, where unlike individuals come together to defeat a common enemy. In this film’s case, it’s not clearly defined until much later in the film. The prerequisite robot, L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge) offers nothing to the plate other than to offer an air of what a Star Wars film requires, a smarmy droid to put kinks into any plan. The high tension in the third act is the only enjoyable part of the film, where the seeds are planted to realize Han is indeed on his own. Thankfully he has Chewie to help him along at this point.

Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) is more like the Han we know than this kid. Ehrenreich is likeable, but he has big shoes to fill. Donald Glover did a better job to channel young Lando. On his first line, I thought I heard Billy Dee Williams. With Alden, a smirk would have helped seal the deal. He got a few of the mannerisms right, but it’s like watching a teenage Anakin develop into Vader. The transition is tough to follow.

The standout character is with Qi’ra. She may have a bigger role in this ongoing war. Just how new movies and the old ones can explain her non-presence is easy. She’s too busy managing criminal operations in the background. Although to see her again will mean ageing her and involving this element in the finale of the new trilogy. Nothing new is learned in this film, and one major spoiler needs its own story to bridge the years leading up to Rogue One and A New Hope. The callbacks are more like easter eggs for fans to pick out than become important going forward.

Ultimately, this film was not needed. Disney can do good things for the franchise and also bad things. Not every detail needs to be explained, like in how Han got ownership of the Millenium Falcon and seeing him break certain records. Some developments are best left stated than made into its own tale to continue this war at a galaxy far, far away.

3 Stars out of 5

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