Undoubtedly, Solo: A Star Wars Story is the most controversial Star Wars film to date. Ever since its reveal at D23, the film has been marred for its seemingly lack of reason to exist. The casting of its lead character, Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, lead to even more controversy for the film. However, the film still advanced into production where even more troubled waters waited for the film. The initial directors of the film were Chris Miller and Phil Lord, the minds behind blockbuster hits such as The LEGO Movie. However, Kathleen Kennedy decided to have to them removed from the film due to creative differences over the direction of the film. Kennedy then advanced to hire Ron Howard to take the mantle of director, causing even more controversy and anger amongst the rabid Star Wars community. Ultimately, Howard was able to complete the film, allowing it to make its original Memorial Day release date, becoming the first new Star Wars film to debut outside of the traditional Christmas release window. These controversies would lead one to believe that the film would be a clear mess with a lack of direction and coherence. However, Solo: A Star Wars Story proves to be a fun experience that succeeds on excellent performances from namely Woody Harrelson and Donald Glover, however due to a loosely written script, it ultimately can’t become nothing more than a meekly above average Star Wars adventure.
Like any other film, the most important aspect of a film is its screenplay. If it can’t succeed on the page, being able to succeed on the screen is almost a drunkard’s dream of soberness. Solo: A Star Wars Story partly falls to this idea. The script is loosely written with no real stakes at play here. Ultimately, the film doesn’t try to do anything other than entertain its audience. Attempts at humor and genuine plot developments are littered throughout the film, but none of them fully function properly and feel like outliers in ultimately a mostly vanilla film. The few plot twists in the film were predictable and lead to heavy doses of plot holes. However, the strongest aspect of the screenplay and its only redeeming quality is the banter between characters. Like a film such as Avengers: Infinity War, the banter feels natural, especially between Donald Glover’s Lando and Alden Ehrenreich’s Han Solo. In addition, in direct contrast to other recent Star Wars films, the film relatively has a consistent pace that isn’t constantly being manipulated. It is another redeeming quality for the film that keeps the audience entertained and mostly interested in what is going on the screen. Collectively, the screenplay somewhat falls flat but also has a few redeeming qualities that doesn’t entirely sink the film.
Easily the best and most surprising part of Solo: A Star Wars Story would be the performances. Donald Glover is the clear stand-out, delivering charisma and charm with ease and his character quickly became my favorite character even though some of his lines were dull. Woody Harrelson delivers a humbled performance that complements the film in an interesting way. However, his character also leads to the extreme doses of plot holes within the film. Finally, the other notable performance would be Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo. His performance is widely debated over its quality. Ultimately, his performance is charming and entertaining. He delivers his lines with a light spunk that redeems some of his poor writing. However, even though Ehrenreich does his best with the material he is given, the material simply did not make me believe that he was portraying Han Solo. It felt like a different character entirely and never recaptured the iconic smuggler than Harrison Ford portrayed just three years ago.
Like any Star Wars film, Solo has excellent production values present. Kennedy’s insistence on practical effects continues to shine with a film that looks genuine not computer-generated. The editing is seamless and bears little narrative issues. However, the score, composed by John Powell, is somewhat mediocre and isn’t memorable.
Ultimately, Solo: A Star Wars Story, for all the trouble behind the camera, is a coherent and consistent film, almost too consistent even. The film is disappointingly average with a mediocre screenplay that uses most of the industry’s clichés. However, due to charismatic and charming performances, Solo is able to succeed as a whole, creating a fun adventure that ultimately can’t entirely escape the average qualities of its screenplay.
Score: 6.2 out of 10