Monday, June 18, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Unlike Han Solo, you can tell me the odds.

Solo:  A Star Wars Story – 5 out of 5

I know whiny fanboys who like to claim ownership over the properties they enjoy have complained endlessly about how Disney is ruining Star Wars but I certainly don’t agree with them.  I’ll admit that I was shocked and very hesitant when I heard that Disney purchased the property but quickly got excited when they said there would be a new Star Wars film every year for the foreseeable future.  If that isn’t a reason to make me try and make it through this hellscape that is our reality, I don’t know what is.  Since they debuted their first film; The Force Awakens, I have loved every second of what The Mouse has produced.  Solo: A Star Wars Story is the second of the stand-alone films they plan on releasing.  Rogue One set the bar high, in my opinion (I love that one), and there was a lot riding on this one as it focuses on one of the franchises most iconic scoundrel.  Did it deliver?  In my opinion, it sure did!

                                                    Lucasfilm, Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Just two cool dudes flying one cool ship.

                        Lucasfilm, Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
It's not weird that I fell in love with L3 is it?
Because that's what has been holding me up from
posting this review.  I'm trying to come to terms
with my feelings for a droid. I'm feeling very
confused right now.
Han (Alden Ehrenreich) dreams of one day leaving his thieving life on Corellia behind and take his love Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) with him.  However, after she fails to escape, Han joins the Empire in hopes of being a pilot and one day saving her.  While there, he rescues an enslaved Wookiee named Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and a rogue named Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson).  Beckett brings Han and Chewie in on a job with his crew; Val (Thandie Newton) and Rio Durant (Jon Favreau).  The job promises a lot of money when completed for gangster and high-ranking crime boss in the Crimson Dawn syndicate; Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany).  However, after the plan fails, the team enlists the help of the best smuggler in the galaxy; Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), and his droid companion; L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), and they plan on a big job that will either make them rich or make things square with the Crimson Dawn or lead them down a path that culminates in their deaths.

                                                      Lucasfilm, Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
When you have those facial scars, you kinda have to become a crime lord
or you get walked all over.  It's the equivalent of being named Sue in
the Star Wars universe.

A Star Wars film is going to have to work really hard for me to not enjoy it.  Hell, I’ll admit it, I like the prequels.  Granted there are elements I don’t like about them but, for the most part, I think they are pretty good.  Going into Solo, I didn’t really have any reservations or concerns.  In the end, the final product provided an exciting film that has the feel and substance of the galaxy far, far away but also felt like it was its own creature that belonged to the greater whole but stands out on its own accords.

                                                    Lucasfilm, Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
In Star Wars, she's the mother of krayt dragons.

It’s refreshing to see where these stand-alone stories take this property and I like that they tell stories that don’t involve the Jedi or the Force.  I loved how Rogue One explored the darker side of being a Rebel and I love how this one shows us the faithful meeting of Han and Chewie and seeing how he became that scruffy –looking nerf herder that I secretly desire to be.  Origin stories can often get knee-jerk reactions from people but I like seeing how my favorite characters start out.  Solo brings this about with exciting action and plenty of humor.  Seeing the evolution of Han as he tries to find his place and grab onto that confidence and swagger was very engaging and a lot of fun to watch unfold.  Not to mention the way this film canonized so many elements from the now defunct Expanded Universe gave me a geekgasm!

                                                    Lucasfilm, Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
The wind blown look works for Chewie.

The performances in this one are absolutely stellar.  I loved how Alden Ehrenreich was able to capture the essence of Han Solo without having it feel like he was doing an impression of the character.  Instead, it felt like he was able to latch onto who and what he is and then reverse engineer it so it was a time and personality of the character we hadn’t seen yet.  Just the opposite is what I loved about Donald Glover’s portrayal of Lando.  First off, Glover is a ridiculously talented man who seems to have no end to what he can and will accomplish but he provided this special magic as a young Lando that felt more like an impression of Billy Dee Williams than an impression of Lando—and did so without it feeling like it was an impression.  He was just absolutely captivating to watch.  

                                                    Lucasfilm, Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Seriously, is there anything this man can't do?

Concerning the rest of the cast, there is no one not pulling their weight.  Whether it’s Woody Harrelson with his cocky charm or Emilia Clarke being sly and mysterious, Jon Favreau being very amusing as the voice of Rio Durant or Paul Bettany having this very odd mix of charisma and being completely unhinged as the crime boss, this film had some excellent performances.  One personal favorite of mine was Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the voice of the droid L3—a droid I instantly fell in love with (still wrestling with feelings).  Her sass was endlessly amusing and made the character extra memorable and fun to watch.

                                                    Lucasfilm, Ltd./Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
In the world of Star Wars, Tobias Beckett is the most normal sounding

Even though we are only two films in with the stand-alone tales that Disney is making, I really think the company built by a mouse is on to something.  Solo:  A Star Wars Story provides an exciting story that is action-packed, visually stunning and really funny.  It’s refreshing seeing a story explores the other avenues of this galaxy and the way it makes its connections with the new canon that is being established is wicked fun (and this one offers up a really great surprise).  I really enjoyed what Ron Howard did with this one, especially with the visual tone that he set.  It was obvious a Star Wars film but also had a look that didn't feel like the other saga features.  While there is no doubt that I was deeply curious to see what Phil Lord and Christopher Miller was going to create, I think Howard made something very entertaining and one that really works for the direction this franchise is going.  Keep it up, Disney!  I like where you are taking Star Wars.

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