Solo: A Star Wars Story

Reviewed
Fri. 5/25/18
Solo: A Star Wars Story
3.3333333333333
Acting
3
3/5
Morality
4
4/5
Music
3.5
3.5/5
Story
3
3/5
Visuals
4
4/5
Kernel Factor
2.5
2.5/5
A safe bet.
Reviewed By: Steven Siwek
Viewing Environment:
Theater
Viewing Crew:
Myself
Times Watched:
1
Genre:
Action
Payment Method:
MoviePass
Review:

After 23 minutes of trailers, yes, 23 (brutal) minutes of trailers, "Solo" began. What is going on with trailers these days? I don't need to watch 75% of those movies now. Anyway, back to "Solo". The film focuses on how "Han Solo" became..."Han Solo". I'm not your avid "Star Wars" fan, so for me, I don't think I have the kind of hype or knowledge that you might appreciate if you're a "Star Wars" person - so I'm sorry. But if you're a below average "Star Wars" fan like me, then hopefully my review will resonate with you. Let me start by saying what drove me to watch this film on opening day came from desperation: I needed to see a movie. It's been too long, and not to mention I recently finished the Ron Howard Masterclass, which I would highly suggest for filmmakers. After that class, I wanted to see how he (Ron) was able to navigate this behemoth of a franchise and story, especially since he had to take over midway through shooting. Here we go!

Acting
It took me a little bit to get used to Alden Ehrenreich (who played "Han Solo"). There are a few moments where it feels like he's trying to mimic Harrison Ford rather than just play the character his own way. That being said, that's a hard role to play no matter how you approach it, and I could see this kid going far. I felt like Woody Harrelson, who plays "Beckett", is a standout performance, but his role (both in acting and in writing) is literally a copy of Michael Rooker's character "Yondu" in "Guardians of the Galaxy". In one way he saves the acting, because he's a top performer, but "Yondu" in "Guardians of the Galaxy" (1 and 2) is so memorable it just makes "Beckett" feel artificial - I mean from the spaceship, to the pirate-like personality, to the debt he has to repay, just watch "Guardians" and tell me how much "Solo" feels like its "borrowing". Honestly I barely remember "Lando" from the "Star Wars" original triology, but I felt like Donald Glover's character, although interesting, was viewed very differently by Ron Howard than he was by the original directors Phil Lord & Christopher Miller. The evil character "Dryden Vos" played by Paul Bettany is the most dynamic performance. He did great. He plays that evil guy with the evil look really well in almost every movie I see him in. The amount of character turns was a little much for me. In fact, there are so many character twists that it ironically became predictable. The "comedy" is iffy, especially when dealing with the non-human characters who just aren't funny, EXCEPT "L3" (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge) who offers some well timed humor. "Chewy" (played by Joonas Suotamo) brings the heart. They introduced us to a lot of characters, but by the end, I was beginning to find a groove with this cast.
Morality
Essentially no one in the galaxy can be trusted. Good and evil are intertwined in many characters, but are more scripted than built through tension. Per usual, there is a good amount of violence but still no blood. Equality is brought up several times. 
Music
It's always a lot. It's always in your face. But it's usually working with the story. They've subtly updated in ways that are potentially more relevant, but it's interesting how "Star Wars" in general doesn't break from its theme.
Story
I know every one of these movies feels the pressure mounding, so I give them credit for always coming to the table with something interesting. I wish I could watch "Solo" without the context of the other "Star Wars" films, because I think if I did I would be very interested with how Han's story turns out. For me, "Star Wars" is much easier to follow (and seems more consistent) than the Marvel movies and its universe. They built a few moments with regard to the already completed subsequent movies well and it felt fairly natural throughout. However, it's very formulaic and basic. "Solo" is just a safe bet. They tried to throw a curveball at us with all the plot/character twists, but in the end they were just too much. Lastly, one of my biggest critiques of all blockbuster sci-fi/action movies is that the "evil thing/person" always has found/is about to find the universe's power source. Can we please make it something else? At least these movies come up with cool "energy" names, but man I'm bored of that one-dimensional aspect of sci-fi blockbusters. I've never been one to credit "Star War's" dialogue, and you won't find me doing it here. With the exception of Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany, who somehow made very basic lines sound good, I didn't find the dialogue to be overly compelling. The connection between Alden Ehrenreich and Emilia Clarke (who plays "Qi'ra") is good, but I wasn't sold on it (which is key to the arc of the story).
Visuals
The amount of real locations was seriously impressive. I'm a sucker for space scenes, and I feel like there actually was a limited amount of space sequences.
Kernel Factor
Okay, so I've waited the whole time to say this, but if you're going to have a game "Sabacc" please try to at least teach the audience something about it. I feel like the game that's played between Donald Glover ("Lando") and "Han Solo" is the writing/producing team just giving up. I'm sure it works on paper (and to Danny and Alden's credit they even act it well), but what the heck? They are gambling for some of the biggest moments of the film and we don't even know a single speck of how to play. I'm sure there are Star Wars fans out there who could tell me exactly how to play - in fact, I went to starwars.com just to learn more about the "oldest and most popular game in all the galaxy" - well, not in my galaxy. Stating the obvious, I don't know how to play and the movie gives us no pointers other than you can win a lot and lose a lot (and it's easy to cheat). In closing, my desperation to see a good movie aches on. This film didn't scratch the itch, but it served its purpose - entertainment. At the end of the day, the reason "Solo" isn't great (and borderline good) is there are things it gets away with that an indie movie or lower budget movie could never get away with. A lot of scenes missing great dialogue or build up in tension get resolved with sweet space scenes and great art direction. If you want to check out a good rental, "Solo" is a safe bet.