By Cynthia Ayala
“During an adventure into the criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.” —IMDB
I’m going to say it: I went into this film with the lowest (i.e., none) of expectations. Why? Because when I discovered all the stuff going on behind the scenes, the lack of unity, not from the cast but from the crew, the director change, the fact that the movie is 70% reshoots and the fact that Disney felt like they needed to get an acting coach for the guy playing Solo, well color me disillusioned. I went into this movie thinking it was going to be terrible. I’m glad I was wrong.
Now I’m not saying this movie is excellent, it’s no Empire Strikes Back, but it also wasn’t terrible. The worst part of the film is probably the first 15 minutes of the film. Not only is it a bit of a cliché, but this is also the only part of the movie where Alden Ehrenreich & Emilia Clarke have no chemistry in the film whatsoever. Not only that but the writing is so stiff here, and the delivery almost feels as though the actors didn’t quite know how to handle these characters, which is odd, especially from Emilia Clarke. I mean this is the mother of dragons here, her acting is always phenomenal, in my personal opinion. So to see such stiff chemistry, stagnant writing, and stiff acting, it puts the viewer off. I literally turned to my fiancé in the theater and mouthed “this is so bad.”
But it gets better. It’s hard to find that right edge that makes Han Solo, well Han. It was hard to cast him back in the 70s, and it was hard here, but the acting coach, they probably helped. And the viewer has to keep in mind the this is a much younger Han Solo, he’s far from the well-seasoned man who shoots first that we all know and love. So for some, trying to rectify that is going to be hard. It was hard for me, still is, but it was a fun approach to the character and how Ehrenreich was able to capture some of that fun charm. He has a long way to go — acting and narrative wise — before he becomes the Han we all know and love. Nevertheless, it was a nice take on the character, portrayal wise.
That’s the one thing I will say is good about the movie, once you get past the first 15 minutes, the acting is excellent. Donald Glover makes quite an incredible young Lando, so much so that I’m eager for a Lando movie. Just think about it, he’s a smuggler, so he’s got to have a bunch of stories eager for telling. And Qi’Ra, she’s such an exciting character, torn, just trying to survive in a world that has pretty much turned her into a killer. Just think Space Black Widow almost. So a movie about her and her new partnership with Maul, that’s another interesting story there.
Overall, it was okay. The opening brings out some great character backed by amazing actors and once again does nothing with them, killing them too quickly. There are other ways to get rid of characters than just killing people off. At the end of the day, that’s just lazy writing because the audience can’t really be sad because they had no time to connect with the characters. But then there are the great parts of the film, many of which revolve around L3, Lando’s droid companion and navigator. I’ll say this about all the Star Wars films, they have yet to screw up when creating the droids because they are all such a delight to watch on the screen. Furthermore, they’re all so different. L3 is an outstanding droid, and her vitality, her presence on the screen is fantastic. There are also some great tidbits that offer up some depth to Han, some humanity, and showing viewers just why the Millennium Falcon means so much to him.
It’s a decent enough film, but overall, other than a spin-off here or there, it doesn’t offer much to the Star War Universe. It has a distinct lack of Star Wars music to set the mood and has a rather bland type of story filled with cliches. But hey, at least we all finally discovered how he did the Kessel run in 12 parsecs, plus and it was nice to see a piece of pre-Disney comic canon brought into the film. (★★★☆☆ | C+)
Directed by Ron Howard
Based on Characters by George Lucas
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures