Fish and Cherries Productions

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Reel Snippet – Solo: A Star Wars Story

Summary: Ten years before he had a fateful meeting in the Mos Eisley Cantina, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) was stuck in the Imperial trenches before making friends with a smuggler named Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and, of course, a wookiee named Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo). They run afoul of a powerful crime lord named Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) and, to appease him, must steal a payload of valuable fuel for him. The crew they put together consists of a dashing gambler named Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), his outspoken equal rights activist droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), and an old flame of Han’s from the mean streets of Corellia named Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). It’s a high stakes heist full of firefights, daring escapes, and the introduction of the ship we all know and love — the Millenium Falcon.

Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story was a surprisingly fun outing that gave a lot to the Star Wars fandom. It’s kind of a surprise because this movie had a lot going against it, including a change in directors partway through that resulted in major reshoots. For what we got, though, I would have been very surprised to hear of any behind the scenes drama because everything flowed together nicely. Was it perfect? No, but we’ll get to that.

Like I said, there’s a lot for Star Wars fans to enjoy, particularly how much the movies draws from the old Expanded Universe (if you don’t know what I mean, here’s a nice four-part essay I wrote that can help you). Han’s backstory of being enlisted with the Imperials before rescuing Chewie is mostly the same; the movie includes the martial art Teräs Käsi (which spawned from one of the worst Star Wars games ever made); the black hole known as the Maw is seen; and there’s some other subtle nods to things of Star Wars past. There’s also a fair number of shout-outs to the current Star Wars canon, including name-dropping various worlds and characters, Saw Gerrera’s right hand man from Rogue One appearing, old alien species returning (a welcome change as they had been mostly absent from the newer movies), and a jaw-dropping cameo that I don’t dare spoil. For a Star Wars fan, it’s like having the best toy chest in the world.

There’s plenty more going for it, like the actors turning in great performances. Donald Glover nails Lando’s characteristics down perfectly and conversely, Alden doesn’t even try to imitate Harrison Ford and still manages to inject likability and charisma into a classic character. The music is fun too, borrowing some classic tunes from John Williams’ original Star Wars score. The other characters are worth highlighting too, particularly L3 and her revolutionary attitude, even if it can get old when that’s all she talks about at times. It’s also really refreshing to see Emilia Clarke in a movie that isn’t sh** (looking at you, Terminator Genysis).

As I said before, though, it’s not perfect. One of the big problems is that it throws so many characters and situations at the audience that they can be hard to connect to or keep track of. Sometimes, it feels like they’re just advertising future expanded universe material like, “Hey, wasn’t that character cool? Well, you can find out more in this book/comic/whatever!” Also, while I’m cool with most of the details the movie fills in about Han’s past, there were some that were completely unnecessary like when Han’s last name came from. It falls victim to the same trap the prequels fell into, trying to inject meaning into every aspect of the original trilogy to the point of pointlessness. Also, L3-37 is a cringy reference.

However, the biggest problem, which I can’t ignore no matter how much I try, is that this movie doesn’t need to exist. Sure, I’m glad I saw it and my life is better for it, but in terms of Star Wars stories that needed to be told on the big screen, this wasn’t one of them. It could have been a book, a comic, a game, or something else entirely rather than something that cost Lucasfilm a lot of money. Rogue One, at least, told the story of unsung heroes, filled in some plot holes, and had that amazing final battle. This one doesn’t seem to have any major impact on the Star Wars universe unless that cameo I mentioned comes back up in a future film.

When all is said and done, though, I had a lot of fun with Solo. It felt like the kind of classic Flash Gordon-style adventure that Star Wars drew from back in its early days as well as a lot of new treats for longtime fans. Also, it’s nice to have a modern Star Wars movie that doesn’t end on a downer like the past two films have. Give it a look and enjoy the twelve parsec ride.

Fun Tidbit: One of the constant elements of Star Wars movies is C-3PO showing up in one form or another. While we don’t see the golden droid here, his actor, Anthony Daniels, has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo as one of the rioting prisoners on Kessel, complete with his own line.

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