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Solo (2018) Movie Review

  • 7.5/10
    Critic's Rating - 7.5/10
Solo may be a Star Wars Story, but it’s not really a Star Wars film. I know this sounds awry, but bear with me.

It’s…. a car chase movie. It’s a heist movie. It’s a card-game of a movie. During the pretty good opening 20 minutes, it actually promises to be a space version of Howard Hawks’s Only Angels Have Wings. Hard-talking male flyers trade quips with smart female observers.

The film Solo may have had a troubled production. Ron “safe pair of hands” Howard (who directed The Da Vinci Code, ‘Far and Away’ (Shot in Dublin, Ireland, for much of it’s first half), and one of the greatest films EVER made, real-life story ‘Rush’ with Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl) was brought on after the initial directors , a team of two, fell out with the Production Company who hired them, over artistic differences. But at first it looks as if they’ve really pulled it off.

Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, and Alden Ehrenreich in Solo A Star Wars Story (2018) Review

Young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich), who longs to be a pilot, zips about the streets of a dumpy planet with his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) until circumstance flings him into the Imperial army. Year later, he falls in with a tough crew of hustlers led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and they embark on a scheme to rob barrels of something dangerous for one Dryden Vos (British actor Paul Bettany at his slipperiest) and his dodgy sky-bound cartel.

Echo Spot – Stylish echo with a screen

(Dryden? Beckett? Did someone major in English literature here?)

Qi’ra is here as Dryden’s lieutenant. I don’t know what sort of “lieutenant” dresses as she does at that time of the day. Lieutenant of sex workers, perhaps. What a shame in a film with some very strong, original female characters. Anyway, Qi’ra is dispatched with the gang to keep an eye on them.

Emilia Clarke in Solo A Star Wars Story (2018) Review

Sadly, something goes a bit wrong here, and the film slides off into semi-incoherence.

The joins in the “troubled production” show through as characters spend minutes on end explaining unnecessary details of the plot. The action sequences become increasingly hard to follow. The warring factions mount up like the rival rebellions in Life of Brian. Once Chewbacca returns and we are reunited with the Millennium Falcon, Ehrenreich’s inadequacies as a proto-Harrison Ford become more and more evident.

Don’t get me wrong. He’s a good actor and he fires out the lines better than many contemporaries could manage. But faced with the unenviable (perhaps impossible) challenge of echoing the gorgeous, ex-carpenter cool of Harrison in 1977 he falls short. Who wouldn’t?

Phoebe Waller-Bridge in Solo A Star Wars Story (2018)Review

Solo is not the disaster that many feared when news leaked out of those firings and hirings. But it’s very much a film of good bits and bad bits. Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator of Fleabag, has great fun as L3, a robot who yearns for autonomy in a delightful echo of Bender from Futurama.

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It hardly needs to be said that Donald Glover rocks as a younger, even more laid-back Lando Calrissian. But Emilia Clarke is desperately underpowered, and even the characters themselves seem to eventually give up on the written-on-the-back-of-an-envelope plot. It’s a fine film. Ron Howard has acquitted himself well as replacement director, but… prequels are like this; great things are asked of them, but.. the greatness comes in the sequels, of course… it’s the crescendo-nature of plot-rising; it can’t be helped. This film is a beginning film, as all prequels are; to knock it in any way… is to be churlish and havering. Gorgeous cinematography and sets, take this film over the line into solid-film territory; all goers will enjoy this immensely.









About the author

Gili Ransome

I studied film-making and photography in College of Design, Dublin 1, Ireland.

I do Film-promo work for the writer and film-producer Steven Cutts, who financed and executive-produced the films 'Will's Diaries' (2010), and 'Adieu Marx' (2013). We have promoted & shown Adieu Marx, at Cannes Film Festival 2013.

I wrote the book 'The Geebst', on Kindlebooks, and am presently trying to get it made into a TV cartoon series.

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