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  1. Published on: 03/06/2018 01:05 PMReported by: Film Critic
    Plot: Whilst trying to become the best pilot in the galaxy, Han Solo teams up with several outlaws and gets involved in the criminal underworld.

    It seems strange to not feel excited for a Star Wars film. With a combination of work, The Last Jedi still fresh in my mind and not being that intrigued by the story, I have just not had time to even be hyped for this.

    The origins of Han Solo is just something that I just don't feel needs to be hold. But with so many franchises squeezing the life out of their characters backstories, I guess it just goes with the times.

    Also the production problems this has been having also lowered my expectations. I really would have liked to have seen Phil Lord & Christopher Miller's take on this story. I love their work and I feel their style would give this franchise a nice refreshing look to it. But instead Ron Howard came in, which I feel to be the safest choice imaginable.

    One big positive I had going into this was that I really liked the other Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One. To me, it is the best Star Wars film since the original trilogy. So there was a part of me hoping for a similar experience.

    I felt I almost got that, especially in the first half. But in the end, I felt satisfied that I don't think this story needed to be told. But thankfully, there is plenty to enjoy and you can have a fun time watching this.

    It starts off pretty well. I liked how certain characters were introduced, how some first met and they were set no new worlds that were explored enough for me to want to know more about. Then there were cool and exciting action set pieces that had me having a fun time.

    I enjoyed a few little goodies that you can notice relating to previous Star Wars films, including Rogue One. One surprise really made me smile, and I can see a lot of others doing it. However, it was only shown at the end and I'm not sure if this will ever be continued in any future installments. We'll have to wait and see on that one.

    After that, there were some still nice surprises. But the pacing of the second half seemed to slow everything down and lack a strong ending that made wanting to punch the air in delight or skip out of the screening with joy.

    The performances on the whole were pretty good. I was very worried for Alden Ehrenreich. As much as I like him as an actor, filling in the shoes of such a well known and recognisable character is huge pressure. II thought his performance was fine, which I guess is a relief. It was always going to be tough gig for him playing the title character. Going into this film, he was already hampered down by Harrison Ford's portrayal of him, and people expect to see the exact same mannerisms. So the perfect performance had to walk a fine-line of an impression and also making it his own at the same time. While someone like Chris Pine did it perfectly as Captain Kirk in Star Trek, Ehrenreich didn't quite pull it off. There's nothing wrong with the performance. It just wasn't the complete Solo package. But there were enough moments that reminded of the Solo character for it to be a somewhat worthy performance.

    Joonas Suotamo as Chewbecca did a great job and might have been the best performance. There was strong chemistry with Ehrenreich and their first encounter I think will please a lot of fans, both general and hardcore.

    Another actor that had a good connection with Ehrenreich was Emilia Clarke's character. I did not feel she had fully become a big screen actor and just a small screen one instead. But I thought she did a good job as is becoming a solid movie actor.

    Another actor coming into this film by playing character people already know, is Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian. I did he did a pretty good job. Right from the first scene, he already had that smooth satisfaction about him whilst knowing that there is a cheat and a scoundrel behind all that charm. Also, Glover certainly had that sexy Billy Dee Williams voice, which as any Star Wars fan know can weaken the knees of anyone.

    As for the new characters, I liked pretty much all of them. Woody Harrelson for me can do no wrong at the moment, and his character was a great addition to the development of the Solo character we eventually see the original trilogy. While Thandie Newton was not in it for long, I thought she had a bad-*** presence about her and justified it in a few action scenes.

    Paul Bettaney continues to be a great actor at doing supporting or minor roles, and his character has potential to explore more.

    There wasn't really a major villain or antagonist to be a major influence in the story. Missing that element was certainly one reason that prevented me from calling this a great film.

    The technical side of this film was pretty strong. I loved the heavy use of practical sets and creatures, and all of that could get the a few Oscar nominations in costume, makeup and production design. It's shot really well and there are many dazzling visual effects.

    Comedy is something that has become well associated with Star Wars. Sadly, I didn't feel many strong comedic moments. Some of the characters that were there for comedic relief, felt more annoying or obnoxious than anything else. The other attempts of laughter fell in that void of not falling flat, but not even making me chuckle.

    I do have a negative and it's a huge one. I still did not see the point in making this, apart from keeping the fans entertained whilst 'Episode IX' in the main saga in being made. Doing origins stories of minor characters just loses all the imagination that someone can have of their backstory.

    For many people, Han Solo in the original trilogy was a cool anti-hero that also felt like the most relatable character. That every-day man persona made him a fan favourite, and leaving his backstory open to interpretation is fine.

    There were few moments to justify making this. But there just wasn't enough throughout the film to show that there was a reason for making it, rather than to make more money and have that corporate feel to it.

    That being said, I did enjoy watching this and in my opinion it did partly recapture the Star Wars magic that kind of lost me in The Last Jedi. Like I said, the first half of the film was really good. It introduced us to the characters really well, had a intriguing story and there were lots of fun, exciting and tense action set-pieces. Then apart from a few things, the second half just felt very pedestrian and never had a strong pay-off to make me want to see this again straight away.

    If I had to rank this with the other Star Wars films, I would place just below the middle. So for me, that would place it below The Force Awakens, and slightly above The Last Jedi.

    I will remain excited about more 'A Star Wars Story' films, as they seem more interesting than the main saga ones at the moments. There are plenty of new characters and worlds that are explored in this. They may still rely on referring to the main Star Wars films at times. But I feel they are still gradually expanding the universe.

    One final note, and this may be a spoiler to some people. Personally I don't think it is. Anyway, in the Last Jedi there were several nods to these gold dice that Han Solo has at the ceiling of his cockpit of the Millennium Falcon that are apparently important to him. I did not see the importance for this at all, and they show it again in Solo. It seems that it is something an item some hardcore fans noticed in images from the first Star Wars and wanted to have a backstory about it.

    I don't see the point of making it an important piece of the story, nor do I even care. It just really bugged me that this has somehow become an integral part of Han's character.

    Rating: 7/10
     

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