‘I’ve got a good feeling about this’ – Han Solo
Before heading into the critique of the film, it is worth getting the behind-the-scenes controversy of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Lego Movie) out of the way to be able to focus on the film. Not knowing all of the details of the on-set difficulties, except for creative differences between the young directorial duo and the mega-producer Kathleen Kennedy and legendary scriptwriter, Lawrence Kasden (Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), the end result seems to be a career limiting move. Anyone who takes on a project of this magnitude and does not consider that it will be under extreme scrutiny from the studio, this scenario can only be chalked up to being pride-filled naivety that led to the split occurring.
The directorship was handed over to the Academy Award holder Ron Howard (Apollo 13) and audiences must move forward and do not ruminate about what could have been with Lord / Miller at the helm. With this element out of the way, it is easier to move on to the analysis of this film that depicts one of the most beloved characters in cinematic history.
For all the fans who have an investment in the history of the fabled space bandit, this storyline delves into the origins of Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich). As an orphaned youth who tries to escape the life of indentured servitude to the crime mistress, Lady Proxima (Linda Hunt), he makes a daring escape that places him in the less than an appealing role of a pilot trainee of the Empire.
Due to his rebellious nature, he is eventually thrown out of the flying school and into the infantry to aid in the advancement of this dark threat to the universe. As a soldier, Han manages to connect with Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his mob who need some extra hands with a grand heist of precious cargo. Through this initial step into the world of smuggling and crime, the young pilot is introduced to Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and the universal crime boss Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). Each relationship leads him closer to the attributes that audiences have come to love over the decades and begins a new vein of history that looks to be a franchise-rich opportunity.
Congratulations must go out to Howard for making a solid film that honours the legacy of Solo and provides the catalyst for a new cache of folklore. No one should expect that this would be a perfect film, but the result is an enjoyable, action film that is reminiscent of the western heritage it draws upon. Similar to the origin stories of the Marvel Universe, this has the look and feel of Captain America: The First Avenger. Containing the nostalgia needed to satisfy the faithful fan, but providing enough fresh content to excite new fans to this universe full of fantastic characters.
To put fans hearts at ease, Alden Ehrenreich manages to stay strong under all of the scrutiny and challenges within the production. Even though he does lack the aesthetic or vocal resemblance to Harrison Ford, he does manage to capture the swagger needed to embody the favourite scoundrel. The script manages to maintain the moral ambiguity of the character and his band of thieves, but still shows the real depth of his heart.
Ehrenreich is not expected to singularly carry the film. The young actor is surrounded by an exceptional cast to help in lifting this project out of potential failure. Donald Glover lives up to the hype of filling the suave and charismatic Lando Calrissian and Woody Harrelson continues to be the ever faithful, but the flawed mentor for the lead. Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) is convincing as the muse and love interest and proves her true colours and powers in the final act.
The primary weakness of the film is the lack of a clear antagonist. Because of the vagueness of every character’s moral centre it was difficult to determine who the real enemy is in this tale. Dryden Vos is set up as the villain, but the issue is that Bettany is not afforded enough time on screen to establish himself as a true psychopathic crime lord. Despite this challenging aspect, a few glaring plot holes and a slow first act, Solo: A Star Wars Story does prove to be pure action escapism that should leave all audiences satisfied and entertained.
REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
Let me give you some advice. Assume everyone will betray you. And you will never be disappointed. – Tobias Beckett
In this world that has become more and more interconnected, it has become less obvious who we can trust. Knowing who is the bearer of truth and justice. The government, schools and even churches have proven to be suspect when it comes to trust. Thankfully, there is one place that the truth can still be found. Not to sound cliched, but the Bible does provide answers to this question and more.
Where do you go in the Bible to find answers to trust and truth? John 14, The book of Romans, Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 37:4-6, Hebrews 11