Solo: A Star Wars Story is Better Than You Think


When I ranked the Star Wars films (Star Wars - The Films Ranked) I ranked Solo 8th out of 11 films, I still agree with that ranking, but I want to write about how I think the film was given a bad reputation.  Solo easily had the most tumultuous production out of all the Star Wars films (which is something I will talk about later), the chaos about the making of the film would make a great documentary or an entertaining book.  The film is a Han Solo origin story and immediately took a lot of heat from fans when they were told another actor would portray a younger Han Solo. Alden Ehrenreich was cast as Han Solo and he does an admirable job, the thing that fans need to remember is this is a Han before we met him in Episode IV.  Ehrenreich is likeable in the role, but I have a hard time not picturing Harrison Ford saying those lines.  The film I do not believe broke even, the world box office totals were almost $400 million but the film cost well over $300 million with the marketing costs.  I am not arguing that the film is perfect and not without problems, but I find the film very entertaining.


The original directors of the film Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired after filming for a few months and Ron Howard was hired to finish directing the film.  The issue apparently was that the script written by Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan was not being filmed by the directors.  This issue stems from a larger issue that has plagued the Disney era Star Wars films, disorganization. Whereas Marvel runs a very tight ship, and they have the future of TV and movies mapped out for several years.  Star Wars has tried a different approach by hiring directors with their own visions and sometimes that has not meshed well with the other films.  The sequel trilogy had no plan and that is why Episodes VII, VIII, and IX all feel very different.  There is nothing wrong with hiring directors with a vision, but you either must let them be free to do what they wish or make it clear from day one what you want from them.  The Solo film directed by Lord and Miller sounds very interesting, I heard there was a lot of time devoted to improv.  The tone between the Lord and Miller version and the Ron Howard version is likely night and day.  I hope footage shot by Lord and Miller on Solo somehow makes it to the internet, I think their film might have been good too, but their film likely would have had a more comedic tone.  There has never been a Star Wars comedy film (at least intended to be a comedic film), I think Solo might have been a good time to do it.  The problem is that you should have had Lord and Miller write their own script, Lawrence Kasdan does not seem like the writer who will mesh well with what Lord and Miller wanted to do.  Ron Howard came in and managed to finish the film and the version that made it to the big screen apparently included some Lord and Miller filmed scenes.  I think Ron Howard was a good safe choice to finish the film as he already had a good working relationship with Lucasfilm.  


The film starts off with Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) who escape a gang on Corellia and make it to an Imperial base where they bribe an Imperial officer to board a starship.  Han makes it through but Qi'ra is captured, Han then joins the Imperial Navy as a means to hide from the gang that was chasing him and Qi'ra.  Han is asked by the Imperial Navy officer for his last name and Han says Solo.  The film then skips forward a few years and we see Han as a soldier on a battlefield, he was kicked out of the Imperial Flight Academy.  Han then encounters a group of thieves that are posing as Imperial officers.  Han wants to escape the battle and he wants to join the group of thieves, but they report him as a deserter and Han is jailed with another prisoner (Chewbacca).  Han being able to communicate with Chewbacca allows them to plot their escape from prison.  Right before the thieves leave the planet Han and Chewbacca make it to their ship and join them.  The group are thieves are led by Tobias Beckett (played by Woody Harrelson) and features Val (played by Thandie Newton) and Rio (voiced by Jon Favreau).  The gang heads to Vandor-1 to steal a coaxium (starship fuel) shipment from the Empire, but they are not the only gang trying to steal the coaxium.  Another gang led by Enfys Nest (played by Erin Kellyman) fights with Beckett to steal the coaxium and both sides fail to secure it.  Val and Rio are killed during the attempted heist.  Beckett, Han, and Chewie are now forced to explain their failure to Beckett's employer a high-ranking boss in the Crimson Dawn named Dyrden Vos (played by Paul Bettany).  Aboard Dryden Vos' ship Han finds Qi'ra who now works for Vos and the Crimson Dawn, Han trying to impress Qi'ra tells Vos he has another plan to secure the coaxium.  The plan involves acquiring a fast ship, so Qi'ra leads Han to Lando Calrissian (played Donald Glover) and his droid L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Lando's ship the Millennium Falcon is the ship Qi'ra wants them to get.  Han attempts to win the ship from Lando in a game of sabacc, Lando cheats and keeps possession of the Falcon.  Lando though agrees to accompany them on their mission for a part of the profits.

The mine that Han wants to steal the coaxium from in on the planet of Kessel, the crew infiltrate the mine and get the coaxium.  Chewbacca sees that other Wookies that are being used as slave labour and he helps free them.  L3 meanwhile instigates a rebellion to free the droids, chaos ensues and Lando is injured and L3 is badly damaged.  L3's memory is uploaded to the navigation computer in the Falcon and the crew makes their escape doing the Kessel run and arrives on the planet Savareen where they can refine the coaxium.  Enfys Nest and her gang show up and Lando takes the Falcon and leaves them all behind.  Enfys Nest though tells the Han that she and her gang are rebels and need the coaxium to help fight the Empire.  Han lets Enfys Nest take the coaxium and when Dryden Vos shows up and Beckett betrays Han.  Enfys Nest stops Dryden Vos' crew and Beckett betrays Vos and takes the coaxium for himself.  Qi'ra is forced to kill Vos to save Han, Han then chases Beckett and eventually kills him taking back the coaxium.  While Han was chasing Beckett spoke to her boss, Darth Maul who asks her to come to Dathomir (Maul's home planet).  Qi'ra leaves Han believing that she has done too many bad things and that despite what he says Han is actually a good guy and she is not.  Han and Chewbacca then catch up to Lando and Han beats Lando at sabacc to finally take possession of the falcon.


I think the film is easily one the most underrated Star Wars properties, because it struggled financially, had production issues, and was released so closely to Episode VIII it is considered a failure.  The film did have all those issues, but I would argue that the film was very entertaining.  The film does not have a lot of emotional moments like Rogue One, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi it went all-in on being entertaining.  Woody Harrelson and Donald Glover are great, and it is a shame that the two leads, Emilia Clarke and Alden Ehrenreich are not as charismatic as the supporting actors.  I am not saying that Alden and Emilia are not good, they are, but they lack the charisma of Glover and Harrelson.  I think Alden is a great actor, but I think taking on the role of Han Solo was always going to be a hard sell for audiences.  Harrison Ford's portrayal of Han Solo is so iconic, and Alden tries his best to give the character the swagger and false bravado that Ford did, but it did not always land for me.  That is my biggest critique of the film, I don't think they needed to make the film and they did succeed in making a very entertaining film.  The film is visually unique in Star Wars and has some great visually striking moments.  I did not expect the Darth Maul reveal and it teases a sequel that we may never see, I hope instead maybe we get a Disney Plus limited series.  A Lando series was recently announced, but there were not details shared and Donald Glover was not confirmed to return.  Due to the gaps in time between the three trilogies there is a lot of stories that can be told in those time periods.  My enjoyment of Solo is partly due to the production issues getting so much attention my expectations were instantly lowered and I was happily surprised by the film I sat down to watch.  I think if Solo was a Disney Plus series rather than a film I do think it would have garnered a lot mot appreciation.  

Since The Last Jedi, Star Wars fandom has been such a toxic environment with the voices commenting often representing the worst part of Star Wars fandom (entitled fans).  Star Wars is a property that fans have no control over beside not buying, reading, or watching.  If a story in a film, TV show, comic book or novel is not to your enjoyment that is fine, we are all entitled to have an opinion on something.  Telling people, they are wrong and attacking people whose opinion differs from your own is not the best use of anybody's time.  I know my thoughts on films differ from people and I am fine with that, but I am not fine with people feeling the need to attack others.  I hated Episode IX, there are some things that I like but the overall story was not to my liking.  I did love The Last Jedi and I know there are a lot of people who have issue with my opinion, and I expect that.  My dislike of Episode IX and my love for Episode VIII are because if how those films made me feel.  Solo made me feel something and I had a lot of fun watching the film.  There are people who may not connect to Solo and I fine with that.  I am just writing this so that people may give the film a second chance and those who might not have watched it yet finally do.  I am happy with any new Star Wars property that I get, I may not always like what they do with it but I am happy they keep making new media.  I think we all take movies and film for granted and we expect them to cater to our individual desires and needs.  

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