[Film Review] Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

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Title: Solo: A Star Wars Story
Year: 2018
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Director: Ron Howard
Writers:
Jonathan Kasdan
Lawrence Kasdan
based on characters created by George Lucas
Music: John Powell
Cinematography: Bradford Young
Cast:
Alden Ehrenreich
Emilia Clarke
Woody Harrelson
Joonas Suotamo
Donald Glover
Thandie Newton
Paul Bettany
Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Jon Favreau
Erin Kellyman
Ray Parker
Linda Hunt
Warwick Davis
Clint Howard
Anthony Daniels
Rating: 6.7/10

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Even as massively popular and prestigious as the STAR WARS franchise is, a crashing misfire can still be borne out of resting on the past laurels, pungently attests that in Hollywood “nothing is too big to fail”. SOLO, encumbered by the earlier snag during its production, original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired and Ron Howard took the rein after it had already been under shooting for months, strives for resuscitating our beloved daredevil pilot Han Solo from the beyond with a younger self trotting out his exploits and adventures before he meets Skywalker siblings, however, audience is not charmed by this spin-off.

What is more alarming and incredible is SOLO’s offshore fiasco (stateside $213 million plus $ 180 million in international market, presumably, it needs at least $500 million to break even its costly price tag), particularly with a puny $10.1 million revenue in China, it is an abysmal number for any blockbuster in this world’s second-biggest ticket-buying trade, how the hell could that happen?

Assessing it individually, SOLO is an above-average heist film leverages all the chills and thrills through its pyrrhic victories (a train-top raid, an intergalactic voyage, and a slave revolt that not so amusingly sends up the zealous droid L3-37, voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge), and the climax plays up the gamesmanship between Solo (Ehrenreich), his mentor Tobias Beckett (Harrelson), his reunited girlfriend Qi’ra (Clarke) and the evil crime lord Dryden Vos (Bettany), with some expected if sophomoric twists.

Solo is a bumptious, macho whippersnapper but as Qi’ra correctly notifies, he is a good man underneath, even good to a fault of nondescript (apart from his aircraft maneuvering faculty and a talent for Wookiee tongue), harboring a resolution to save Qi’ra, who is left behind during the opening escaping escapade, but, when later they finally reunite, he cannot suss out the fact that she is not a damsel-in-distress waiting for her knight-in-the-shining-armor in the first place, yet still hopes for rekindle their romance while he doesn’t bother to find out what has happened to her, even considering she claims there is no time for that during their hectic schedule, but why not squeeze some time for harmless canoodling?

When Qi’ra reveals her ulterior motive, which sensibly, is not a betrayal but a simple fact, the girl outgrows the boy during their lost three years, she still loves him, but she becomes the girl that gets away, the plot is fairly acceptable, but feels old-fashioned in its boys-will-be-boys chivalry (even the film considerably allots more focus on Qi’ra’s vacillating mentation), very 70s, that style is right in the wheelhouse of Howard and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, but this sort of sign of the times fails to connect with new audience, Solo is too cock-a-hoop to emerge as a true hero under the circumstances, he needs a learning curve, but what Howard and his teams have achieved feels short-changed, albeit a diligent Ehrenreich tries his best to emulate Harrison Ford’s nonchalant coolness, he is neither the savior nor the scourge for this missed opportunity, there is only that much an actor could do in a jinxed enterprise.

Sprinkling vintage connections into the story to engage STAR WAR devotees, like the ritualistic first glimpse of the Millennium Falcon, the friend-or-foe chemistry between Han and Lando Calrissian (Glover, sports an effervescent persona suffused with guile and alacrity, even briskly knuckles down for an whopping human-droid affection that certainly can knock one’s socks off), the provenance of Solo’s “shoots first” second nature and even a cameo from Darth Maul himself. But just like in the coda, Lando has his card stolen in his sleeve, the film also misses a trump card to turn this one-off side-dish to a proper main course on the table.

referential entries: Gareth Edwards’ ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (2016, 7.1/10), Rian Johnson’s STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (2017, 6.9/10).

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