REVIEW: Solo flies, but never quite soars

With Solo: A Star Wars Story, Disney has had their first franchise misfire at the box-office.

But as any seasoned viewer can tell you, bank doesn’t equate to quality. What we have here is a fun, adventure romp that’s been dampered by heavy expectations.

Solo is an origin story about Han, everyone’s favourite gruff rebel. Made famous by Harrison Ford in the 1970’s, young actor Alden Ehrenreich had his work cut out for him.

Known for a supporting part in Coen brothers film Hail, Caesar! and a leading role in Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply, he’s capable of being a leading man, and his charm is on full display here.

Perhaps it was the switching of directors partway through production, but Ehrenreich suffers slightly from trying to be all things for all viewers. In all, though, he’s funny, charming and serviceable here. He proves he was up to the task, if it’s evident sometimes he tries a little too hard.

Ron Howard, for his part, does a great job salvaging a film that was first tackled by comedic directors.

The exit of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller in June 2017 — in what many called a studio firing — precipitated nervousness in the film community. But veteran Howard has made a fun, sometimes silly action flick that stays mostly true to the essence of the original trilogy.

Woody Harrelson, Paul Bettany and Emilia Clarke are all interesting, but it’s Donald Glover who steals the show as a young Lando Calrissian. The only true shame is the under-utilization of the remarkable Thandie Newton.

Solo won’t rock your world, but it aims to soar. It mostly coasts, but there are instances where it rises above expectations.

The story didn’t need to be told, but I’m certainly not upset that it was. There are some wonderful elements here, and if Solo gets a sequel, I hope we get to see Howard’s full vision come into the Millenium Falcon’s view.

3.5/5 Stars

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