If “Rogue One” is the “Magnificent Seven” in Star Wars canon, then “Solo” is the “Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid” of the franchise. And they have chosen the perfect actors to carry on this legacy.
To begin with, any Star Wars movie is meant to be watched in a place that loves movies. I’m not convinced the big chains love movies as much as they love profits. So, like the past three previous, most recent releases, of Star Wars, I went to go see it at The Gem Theatre and I watched it with my family. Reid got so excited, he chatted away like he and I were in the living room, telling me that everything was so cool and about the little things that only a tried and true Star Wars fan could. I loved it, it made me proud, and it shamed me to shush him, but there were other people in the theatre and we had to respect them. When we got home, though, it didn’t stop him from breaking out his Han Solo water blaster the moment he got home.
After the first ten minutes, to be honest, it brought to mind of Oliver Twist if it was set in a science fictional London in a galaxy far, far away. I half expected the cast to break out into song. Not long after, it redeems itself with battle scenes reminiscent of movies set in World War One, then there’s a train robbery, then a bank heist and there aren’t many good guys to be found – which is what you would expect in a movie about a scoundrel. Put simply, Solo is a bildungsroman set in a science fiction western.
Seeing Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo was a little jarring. He looks and acts more like Leonardo DiCaprio than a young Harrison Ford, but I quickly got over it. I had read there were problems with his acting when it was first filmed, but I think he was a wonderful choice of someone who can grow into the role. There was a brief mention of his relationship with his father – which I hope is explored in the trilogy of planned films and I dearly hope the father is played by Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis or maybe even Leonardo DiCaprio. And the origin of the name Han Solo is a such a wonderful job of retconning that I want to believe it was actually written that way somewhere in George Lucas’s drafts. It is what makes me believe that Oliver Twist was the basis of the movie.
Seeing Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian is simply glorious. He did everything right to bring the character to life, to make it his own and to make it part of the Star Wars canon. I can’t say enough about him except that he takes over the screen in every scene he is in.
Watching Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca made me proud to be a Finn. This guy added a power and a depth to Chewbacca that seemed to give him whole new dimensions. I don’t know how much of a role Peter Mayhew played in the development, but I want to believe that he coached Joonas and told him ‘this is the way I always wanted to play Chewbacca so when you go out there, I want you to make up for lost time’.
Seeing the Millennium Falcon when it rolled off the assembly line was glorious. I did a fist pump when it showed up. She is an undeniable character in the movie. When Chewie and Han sat at the controls for the first time, that’s when my wife piped up.
“That’s the way it’s SUPPOSED to be,” she shouted and she was exactly right.
The complex story was well executed without being overwhelming. The pacing left a little to be desired – not as much action as you would expect and then when the action did show up, it was well scripted and very intense. As an example, the first thirty minutes or so, the tension is ratcheted up in a methodical, wonderful way. I think anyone who studies story for a living could use this as a study of how to put your protagonist in impossible situations and see what they do could learn alot from this. The writers did an especially good job of showing how Chewbacca and Han met. I thought it a very touching moment in an otherwise fast paced movie.
And, in closing, without any spoilers, the climax of the the movie will be very satisfying. It will make you stand up in the theatre, do a double fist pump, and shout “fuck, YEAH” the the whole theatre. Because, uh, some guy I know did exactly that – and only a few minutes after he previous shushed his son for whispering too loudly.