When the Han Solo origin film was first announced, I was not that excited. Within the Star Wars Saga, Han has always felt like a complete character that didn’t need an additional backstory other than what we were already given. From the previous films, we understand his motivation and why he is where he is in his life. And it’s that reasoning that I felt going back and looking at his younger years wasn’t necessary.
Within the old Star Wars extended universe, we had a handful of novels that gave us Han’s backstory. And much of what we are given within Solo is right from those novels. Though there were some details that were changed, like locations and names of some people, the ideas behind why and how Han got to where we meet him during A New Hope stay the same.
Han Solo, this time around, is played by Alden Ehrenreich. Known primarily for his role in Hail, Caesar!, Ehrenreich puts in a good performance, portraying Han in a way that we haven’t seen him before and shows him in a way that is believable to where he is when we first meet him on Corellia. Joonas Suotamo plays Chewbacca, who we know is Han’s first mate from the previous movies. The last character we’re introduced to from the older films is Lando Calrissian, played by Donald Glover. Giving a performance that only Donald Glover can provide, Lando has this swindler vibe that makes him fun to be around.
One of the new characters is Tobias Beckett, played by Woody Harrelson, a mentor figure to Han and leader of a group of thieves. Val Beckett and Rio Durant are also new characters, serving as members of Tobias’ group. Val and Rio are played by Thandie Newton and Jon Favreau, respectfully. Emilia Clarke put in a fabulous performance as Qi’ra, Han’s childhood friend, who also works for Paul Bettany’s Dryden Vos.
While the Millennium Falcon can be considered a character within Solo, at this point in the story, it is owned by Lando. Lando co-pilot’s the Falcon with his droid, L3-37, who is played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. And rounding out the Cast is Erin Kellyman as Enfys Nest, the leader of a rival group after the same prize as Beckett is.
Solo was announced in July 2015 to be directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from a script by Lawrence Kasdan and Jonathan Kasdan. It wouldn’t start shooting until January 30th, 2017, nearly six months later. On June 20th, it was announced that Lord and Miller would be leaving the project because of “creative differences.” It was eventually reported that Lord and Miller thought that they were hired to make a comedy film while the Kasdans and Kathleen Kenedy, the head of LucasFilm, claimed to have hired them to add a “comedic touch” to the film.
Two days after Lord and Miller left the production, LucasFilm announced that Ron Howard would come on and finish the three and a half weeks of principal photography, along with the five weeks of reshoots. During Howard’s reshoots is where Paul Bettany was brought on as Dryden Vos, replacing an unnamed character that was originally played by Michael K. Williams. Bettany replaced Williams because of a scheduling conflict that caused Williams not to be able to do the reshoots.
When all was said and done, Ron Howard would shoot about 70% of the film, and Phil Lord and Christopher Miller would receive an executive producer credit.
Solo: A Star Wars Story didn’t feel like it was a Star Wars movie, though it did feel like a fun Science Fiction film. As a story that didn’t necessarily need to be told for the greater Star Wars universe, there are points within it that do expand on what we already know. One example is when Solo goes so far as to explain a throwaway joke from Empire Strikes back that didn’t need to be clarified. While it was a fun and enjoyable, it was something that didn’t need telling.
Even with a troubled production, the film was able to hit its pre-announced release date, and that in itself is something to be praised. For a Star Wars film, I wouldn’t say that it is the worst film of them all, but it is by far not the best of them either. As a Science Fiction film though, it was enjoyable and fun. As a fan of Star Wars, I would say that it is a film worth watching, but it is not one that is needed to enjoy the rest of the Saga.