Hey, FanBros. It’s time to do a check-in with your personal “nostalgia meter“. We all have one. And it sways any time a franchise returns to capitalize on it. The meter tends to point in two directions:
A) An emotional reaction from shared memories of loving something that reminds you of amazing moments in the past.
B) An exhaustive exercise in something you’ve grown past while you’re looking for something new.
Personally, I don’t swing very often towards “A”. But, I’m always open to the concept of new ideas, topics or unexplored territory reintroducing franchises if it’s high in quality or has something interesting to say.
And that is exactly what Solo: A Star Wars Story will make you ask yourself. The movie chronicles the early adventures of Han Solo(Alden Ehrenreich) and what lead him to be the rogue smuggler we meet in A New Hope. We follow the story of him meeting his future co-pilot, Chewbacca(portrayed by a very physical Joonas Suotamo), his first steps on the Millennium Falcon and a few surprising landmarks along the way. We open on Han and his best friend/love interest, Qi’ra(Emilia Clarke) as they live the life of low-level criminals to escape a wasteland planet. But, when Solo escapes, Qi’ra is left behind and he is tasked with earning enough money for a ship to make a heroic rescue. And that is where the movie settles in to introduce it’s wider cast of characters to the theme of a heist movie.
Every (great) Star Wars movie has always packed itself with a variety of characters on adventures across the galaxy and personalities that bounce off of each other. This is exactly where Solo drops the ball. Moments and scenes are rushed so often that most characters are left with expository dialogue where they immediately state their name and purpose to move along the story. Often, many characters sharing the same space never even interact or meet. It’s often up to the heavy lifting of amazing actors and actresses(see: Thandie Newton‘s “Val”) to make these characters passively memorable.
With that said, keep in mind: THIS IS NOT A LANDO CALRISSIAN MOVIE! Despite Donald Glover‘s(excellent and uncanny) performance stealing any scene he walks in, he is absolutely a side-character. And while his Lando is amazing, what truly elevates the movie is the pairing of him with his self-engineering, pro-droid rights partner, L3-37(Phoebe Waller-Bridge). But, these two are used very sparsely and often are placed in he background of scenes. Which is a shame. Because, the minute these characters are introduced, the film jumps into a level of charm, style and humor that the film struggled with in previous scenes(Seriously, can I just get a movie of these two actors together? An action movie? RomCom? An Atlanta/Fleabag crossover? Something?!)
So, that brings us back to the “nostalgia meter”. This movie is the story of Han, Qi’Ran, Beckett(Woody Harrelson) and their shifting allegiances. And Ehrenreich‘s portrayal of Han is filled with the same cockiness, clumsiness and “space cowboy”-style that we were introduced to with Ford. But your investment in that story is heavily anchored by your passion and knowledge of previous installments in the franchise. Even down to surprise plot points, Easter Eggs and cameos (that it unquestionably wants you to be excited about) that try to revitalize plot points from the past.
And with the past three years of Star Wars proving it’s capable of being progressive, expansive, risky and less predictable, this retread into familiar territory may not have been what I was hoping for. But, there is a 10-year-old version of me that would’ve loved the ride.
Be sure to let us know what you think below or on @Fanbrosshow