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Solo A Star Wars Story Review (2018) | An Entertaining But Unnecessary Spin-off

Totally unnecessary! We all knew what was going through our minds when we first heard the news about Solo A Star Wars Story. You cannot put a face to a legend while he is still alive and breathing. Hell, we are not over it yet! In comes the spinoff, totally uncalled for, and completely unnecessary that tries to cast a young actor, nay, more importantly, a look-alike, to carry on the legacy for years to come. Don’t really see the point? Do you?

Anyways as a Star Wars aficionado, more Star Wars stuff the better, right? So we went along with it when Ron Howard announced that he was making a spinoff of the legendary Han Solo to tell, nay fabricate, his part of the story before he ever made it to the first part like what was he doing all this time? What all adventures he embarked on? How did he meet Chewie? Why is his name Solo?

All these prying questions about interesting people’s lives often intrigue us, but it is better to leave that part to mere imagination. When you put a story in someone’s past, there is a 50% chance that it might not justify a person’s awesomeness. But then there is that 50% chance that might make you revere him/her even more.

Luckily Solo A Star Wars Story edges itself precariously in between. It is at times good, at times fun and at times outright stupid. But is it good for the popularity for the character? Yes! Because that’s when people compare versions. That’s how Gods are made.

Plot of Solo A Star Wars Story (Spoilers)

Lovers Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) are trying to escape a local gang from Corellia by bribing an Imperial officer using a coaxium sample when Qi’ra is left behind. With a promise to get back to her and a dream to become the best pilot in the galaxy, Han joins Imperial navy as a flight cadet. Expelled 3 years later, he joins the infantry on Mimban.

I am gonna be a pilot. Best in the galaxy.

Alden Ehrenreich in Solo A Star Wars Story

There he comes across Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his team and sees through their cover. He tries to blackmail them but is outsmarted and thrown into a pit to be fed to a Wookie.

Let me give you some advice. Assume everyone will betray you. And you will never be disappointed.

Chewbacca

That’s where he meets Chewbacca. With his ability to speak the Wookie language, he befriends Chewie and escapes the pit. Coming on to the good side of Beckett, he and Chewie join them in their mission to retrieve coaxium shipment from Vandor – I.

The mission begins to go awry as Cloud Riders show up headed by Enfys Nest. Two of the crewmates die and all of the coaxium gets destroyed. To make amends with Beckett who reveals that the shipment was actually meant for Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) the crime boss of a Crimson Dawn syndicate, Solo accompanies Beckett volunteering to help him steal another coaxium shipment. On reaching Vos’ yacht he comes across Qi’ra and finds out that she has joined hands with Vos and is one of their top lieutenants.

Qi’Ra: What should we drink to?

Han Solo: Let’s drink two and see where it goes.

Tobias Beckett in Solo A Star Wars Story

Presenting a risky plan to steal coaxium before it is processed from the mines of Kessel, Solo manages to wheedle Vos. Vos agrees asking Qi’ra to join them on their mission. (Like really? What kind of a boss knowingly leaves his prized possession with an old lover?)

You think everything sounds like a bad idea.

Lando Calrissian

Qi’ra brings the team to Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) with hopes to retrieve his ship. Solo defies him for a game of sabbac with the wager being on each other’s ship (with Solo bluffing to be having one). Lando cheats to win however agrees to help them for profits. Entry! *drum rolls* Millenium Falcon!

Just did the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs!

The newly formed team reaches Kessel riding the Falcon. Lando’s droid L3-37 sparks a droid revolt and under that diversion Solo manages to steal the unrefined coaxium. However, L3 fails to make it. Using her navigational computer to map an escape route, Han pilots the Millenium Falcon for the first time piloting it like a pro to escape Imperial assault. Then they land on Savareen to process the coaxium.

That’s when Enfys shows up once again.

You happen to notice that freighter down there? You know what’s on it? About 30 hired guns. All I gotta do is give ’em the signal, you are surrounded.

Lando flies away with his Falcon.

The Final Showdown

Enfys (Erin Kellyman) reveals that she and her crew were all rebels trying to fight the Syndicate and the Empire. Sympathetic to their cause, Solo decides to help them by tricking Vos, but ends up getting double-crossed by Beckett. Vos sends his men to capture Cloud Riders but the latter overpowers them. Outsmarting Vos, Solo tries to take the coaxium but Beckett takes it instead. He takes Chewie as hostage too.

Qi’ra kills Vos sending Han after Beckett. When she is alone she speaks to none other than Darth Maul about what happened claiming Beckett to be responsible. She demands Vos’s position and is directed to return to Maul.

Solo catches up to Beckett and shoots him. Then he and Chewie deliver the coaxium to Enfys. On being asked to join the rebellion Han declines, although is offered a coaxium vial to buy him his own ship. They go straight to Lando where Han steals the card Lando used to cheat with, and wins the Falcon off his hand. Before the curtain falls, they are on their way to Tatooine where a big shot gangster (wink at Jabba the Hut) is hiring for a job.

You can order Solo: A Star Wars Story with bonus content from here:

The Missing Chemistry

The most frustrating thing in Solo A Star Wars Story is the chemistry between Alden Ehrenreich and Emilia Clarke which is entirely missing. Primarily because Alden is too busy nailing his expressions to match them with Harrison Ford‘s. You can’t see him getting serious about his acting. He is just too busy putting on a mask. The intensity in his acts is missing by light years.

Solo Qi'ra A Star Wars Story

Even the music doesn’t do its job. It is like two robots interacting even though they see each other in forever. Dramatic bits are simply absent.

Then there is a point where it all becomes really insipid. The discussion between L3 and Qi’ra about men. You almost feel like shouting out loud, “Oh! C’mon!” That just ends up making the writing all the more shoddy.  Love ends up becoming almost instantly something repulsive.

The naming ceremony of Han as Solo doesn’t feel well written.

Moments to Cherish

For a guy watching a movie first time in 4DX, the experience of watching Solo A Star Wars Story was simply outstanding. All the props the theatre carried only supplemented in the storytelling. There were plenty of moments in the movie that literally defined the word “joyride”. The best part was when Han Solo piloted Millenium Falcon. That’s when its real import was felt. It was as if I was flying it since the seats moved based on the action onscreen.

That being said, there is action galore. Only a few moments where Solo A Star Wars Story movie stands silent. All the other parts are engaging and entertaining. The meeting of Chewie and Solo was well written, and of Solo and Millenium Falcon felt like destiny aligning itself to assist the inevitable.

Solo A Star Wars Story also scores well in the Visual Effects and Cinematography department. It is visually very attractive. Scenes chosen at Savareen look extremely brilliant. Then you can’t undermine the roles played by Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany. They are intensely powerful and well executed.

The Final Verdict

Overall the movie is very entertaining if you are not bothered by facts like the chemistry or the acting for that to matter. It does not justify the character that we grew up revering. But it does help in weaving a backstory and in days to come one might remember it as such.

At the end of it all, you cannot help but wonder why it was created in the first place. Was the spin-off really required? If so, there are plenty of characters in Star Wars that could thread out into their own universe. Are we then supposed to simply keep creating new non-existing timelines for each one of them? Or let things be for a while and focus on the actual story and strand it out instead. That’s a million dollar question.

Check out our other movie reviews from 2018.

In the Heart of the Sea Review (2015)

“My soul is dead.”

A poetic and arresting take on one of the deadliest fictional water beasts.

Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea is an entirely different take on Moby Dick, a different vantage that pays tribute to the most beloved tales of all times. The plot begins with Herman Melville played by a bearded Ben Whishaw visiting Nickerson, a survivor of the Whaleship Essex that went down owing to a tragedy that befell the entire crew when they encountered a gigantic sperm whale. Melville is bent on squeezing out the horror from Nickerson’s eyes into his leaflets because he believes it to be one of the greatest stories he has ever come across.

Philbrick’s perspective is exceptional. Ron Howard cashes in on it just fine. He follows the tale with eye threatening close ups and water-shots to jackhammer the dread quotient. Wonderful whale shots have been captured. Essex-sailing, the squall, whale-hunting have been depicted splendidly. It was a joy to watch the beast breathe alive for the first time in the sea. The size of that thing! The satellite shot ensured the audience scaled it amidst puny boats.

The better part of the movie runs in a diegesis which has been brilliantly written. The score often moves around the soothing notes of a viola that makes the flick a heartwarming watch. Whales have been subtly shown, never given a proper focus, reflecting – just like you would be bewitched by its swiftness in real life. The beast is a beauty! Tiniest of details on its flank have been manifested subtly. Then there is that badass tail. Watch that beauty surge!

What In the Heart of the Sea fails to milk is the “Chase-Pollard” rivalry. It had no Rush charm to it. Coffin’s role too seemed like a cameo which could have possibly unfurled into a possible brilliant feud. The young Nickerson played by Tom Holland was simply an eye in a tale. His character adds little value to an ongoing stream. Tom is an outstanding actor however he gets lost under the doldrums of their unfortunate tragedy, and often gets overshadowed by the movie’s protagonists. Matthew Joy’s character seemed like a crucial build; however Murphy wasn’t allowed to show off his acting prowess. Flick’s editing made sure of that.

SPOILERS AHEAD:

One of the hardest choices Chase has to make when he finally gets a clean shot on the whale and he chooses not to take it. Whilst the writer leaves that bit for viewer interpretation, it is quite poetic if you really look at it. Chase was convinced they were flung into the jaws of chaos owing to the job they did. He throws the idea to Pollard in one of the finest conversations they had in the entire movie. He starts to believe everything they went through was because they were hunting and killing whales for profit. He takes the sperm whale to be an eye-opener.

He looks it in the eye and whilst the world wonders why he doesn’t budge, he silently lets the beast go thus saving his crew from another mishap. All those segments have been beautifully depicted by Ron. It is really hard to show such bits via a movie but he nails it anyhow.

Also the survival tale reeks of an emotional trauma when the crew resorts to cannibalism. It hasn’t been depicted but the words and the diegetic tone are enough to give you an idea. It is a terrible thing to have happened. Howard ensures he keeps things subtle whilst touching such a delicate topic.

Charles Leavitt’s screenplay is downright gorgeous. There isn’t a moment you don’t marvel at his beautiful words. They are drenched in literary awesomeness. There are so many points wherein I felt my ears tingle with powerful words.

I would highly recommend this movie to everyone. It is a beautiful tribute to Herman Melville and his super-rad legendary creation Moby Dick.