Solo: The Film About The Kessel Run

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Sometimes the best, and worst, thing about watching a movie that is a prequel to a beloved classic is that you go into it with a lot of expectations.  I think viewers either expect this film to perfectly compliment the original Star Wars trilogy or they expect it to fail because nothing can ever live up to the original Star Wars trilogy.  Before I saw the film myself I had heard a lot of polarizing opinions about Solo: A Star Wars Story so I really wasn’t sure what to expect.  My own expectations revolved around plot points I hoped to see – moments that had been mentioned in the original films that I hoped would be explored on screen.  And at its core, that’s really all this film is.

The entire plot of Solo essentially revolves around things that Han Solo spoke of in the original trilogy.  It is as if the writers made a list of every comment Han ever makes about his past and made sure to include as much as they could from that list.  If you boil the plot down to the barest of bones, the main story of this film is essentially just a lead up to doing the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs – and that’s actually kind of awesome.  It is heist film where the climax of the heist leads up to the Kessel Run, and everything afterwards is merely the result of successfully completing the Kessel Run.  And of course, we are treated to another key moment from Han’s past: the game of Sabacc.  Except we get to see this twice – once when he is inexperienced and still a ways away from becoming the Han Solo we all know and love, and the second (successful) game when he has learned from his adventures and is closer to becoming the character we are all familiar with.

And my favourite element of the film was another one that I was expecting.  In fact, I cannot begin to describe how disappointed I would have been if this had not been showcased in this prequel.  It is the iconic relationship between Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo).  I found this aspect of the story was very well done as their friendship was well established and well developed.  Actually, I feel that Han and Chewy even had much better chemistry than Han and Qi’Ra (Emilia Clarke).  The friendship between Han and Chewy is so well executed on screen that when Chewy has the choice to leave Han he never actually leaves, and it is still believable.  At no point was there the sense that Chewbacca is sticking around because it is in the script and he needs to be there for continuity.  Even when he briefly returns to his own kind, Chewbacca still goes back to Han because their bond is that strong.

Despite all that I enjoyed about the film, it did take me a while to really get into it.  Things only really started to pick up for me right around the time Becket (Woody Harrelson) and Val (Thandie Newton) were introduced.  I found the opening with Han and Qi-Ra a little weak compared to the rest of the story.  It was merely an average and predictable narrative – boy and girl are in love and trying to escape their current situation for a better life but they get separated and the boy vows to return for the girl when he is strong enough to rescue her.  I am really glad the rest of the film had more substance than this.  Although, I did actually kind of like Lady Proxima (Linda Hunt) – I just wish her character had been a little better developed as I feel there was potential for a really interesting story there.

(This paragraph deals with spoilers) Another issue I had with the film was the lack of surprises, mainly when other characters were concerned.  This is another issue for prequels – if a character shows up in the prequel that wasn’t in the original film, chances are there’s going to be an explanation for that.  So for a lot of characters it was no surprise at all that they did not survive the events of the film.  Probably the most glaringly obvious of these deaths were those of pilots.  Han’s ambition is to be a pilot, and he makes this fact known multiple times throughout the film, so any time there was a ship involved it was obvious that something bad would happen to the pilot, allowing Han to save the day and pilot the ship himself. It was also interesting that the main pilots featured were the main comedic relief of the film.  Both L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and Rio Durant (Jon Favreau) probably had the least amount of character development out of any of the heroes of the story – they were simply there to be funny, and to fly their ships.  They were essentially created to be killed off so that Han could be the hero, so whatever dialogue they contributed to the film was really only in the script to make people laugh.

That being said, there were only two characters that truly had to win the audience over in this film and those were Han Solo and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover).  Both Ehrenreich and Glover were portraying very well known, well established characters so no doubt there was certainly a lot of pressure going into this.  So far, I have yet to hear anything negative about their performances as Han and Lando. I personally thought both actors did a wonderful job of paying homage to these classic characters, while adding their own unique touches.  Should any additional Solo films emerge I will not be disappointed to see the two of them reprise their roles.

(Bonus Opinions and General Fangirling – Spoiler Ahead: I adored Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos.  Not only do I enjoy his work as an actor but I loved watching him play the villain.  Also Darth Maul! That was an exciting moment and I will be very happy if he makes further appearances in future Star Wars prequel films.)

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