Now prequels by their nature aren’t always a bad thing. Rogue One for instance was a fantastic story that really put into perspective the sacrifices the Rebellion had to make to destroy the Death Star – and brought us some incredible characters that we were sad to see go. And I guess seeing how one of Star Wars most beloved characters came to be would be an interesting idea. But did it work?
Let’s find out in this review. May the thoughts be with me!
Set before the events of A New Hope, this film chronicles Han Solo’s early life (including how he got the name Solo – which is pretty dumb to be honest). Starting on Corellia, he and his BFF/love interest Qi’ra try to escape. But after Qi’ra is captured, Solo joins the Empire to become a pilot, and return to save her. Along the way he meets Tobias and a few other rogues – including his soon to be life long companion Chewbacca.
And… that’s pretty much it! Throw in Lando Calrissian and you got yourself a story.
WHAT I LIKED
I suppose it is always interesting to see how characters came to be the way they are, and if done right, prequels can open up a whole lot of interesting points that you never considered. They could also open up potential plot holes, but I don’t think the film opened up many, if at all. It was interesting to see Han Solo in this film, and how different he is to how he becomes in the main saga. Here, he is more idealistic and positive, compared to the grouchy rogue we meet in A New Hope. It was pretty interesting to see his ideals and beliefs crushed as he learns the darker side to life.
The worlds and places visited were spectacular and jaw-dropping to behold – whether it was an industrial landscape or a void in space. The one thing you can never say about Star Wars films is that their landscapes are boring or ill thought out. And the alien races continue to be some of the most unique I’ve seen in a Space Opera. The action scenes were exciting – and sometimes quite dark in tone. The battle scene near the beginning opened up images of real wars and was quite shocking to behold. That was done very well.
In terms of acting, the two stand out roles have to go to Donald Glover as Lando and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (of Fleabag fame) as Lando and L3-37 respectably. Glover oozed charm in the role, despite his darker intentions, in much the same way that Ford won us over as Han Solo (ironic that). I think Billy Dee Williams would be proud of his performance. And Waller-Bridge was hilarious as a feminist droid seeking equal rights for droids. Shame she got killed off too quickly.
And of course, there were call-backs to the Star Wars universe that eagle-eyed fans would notice. Some of them I don’t know where intentional or not, but it’s always nice to make connections. Though it was pretty cool seeing Darth Maul at the end. What? You thought he was dead? Ohhoho, my friend – you need to check the expanded universe!
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Sadly, for all it’s good points, I felt the bad outweighed them.
For one, the story did nothing for me – I’d dare say I found it boring. There wasn’t really any real drama in it to be found – it was more, “Han goes there, then here, meets this person, has to go there, blah, blah, blah”. It never really had my attention, nor did it really excite me. In fact, I sometimes struggled to remember why they were doing these things. And the ending was more “How many twists can we throw in at the end” kinda thing.
Performance wise, most of them were actually pretty lacklustre. Alden Ehrenreich did a decent job as Solo, but he lacked the charisma that Ford had and just couldn’t really hold a candle to him. Woody Harrison and Paul Bettany pretty much just went through the motions in their roles and didn’t really stand out – which is a shame as I do think they are both pretty good actors. As for Emilia Clarke; to be honest I’m still struggling to work out why her character was even in this film, other than for a love interest. Ok, I guess her reveal at the end was kinda cool, but she never really stood out.
Another thing that bugged me about Clarke’s character was that a lot was made of her having been captured and forced to do bad deeds – things that would haunt her. But honestly, Clarke didn’t look like she gave a ****! She was way too happy throughout this movie, and the main bad guy had to keep repeating what she had done. I’m sorry, but if the actor can’t convey how tortured they are, then don’t try and explain it. Show, don’t tell.
It annoyed me because there were actually some cool characters in Harrison’s crew – including a couple played by Jon Favreau and Thandie Newton, but both were killed within 20 minutes of appearing. Interesting enough, Favreau’s character was described as a “very cool & important alien character.” Um, how was he important? I agree with the cool part, but I fail to see how important he was.
And finally, whereas most other Star Wars films (or any material for that matter) try to add in something to the lore of Star Wars in some way this film adds nothing of value, so in essence making this film pointless. It actually breaks my heart to say this as well as I love Han Solo – he’s one of my favourite characters in fiction. But here… I couldn’t really care less.
Earlier I asked, did Han Solo need a prequel film? Well if it was like this, then the answer is a resounding no. It’s not terrible by any means, but it is underwhelming, with lacklustre performances (Glover and Waller-Bridge aside) and a boring story. Clearly this film was only done for fan service, and to give Disney more money (as if they even need any more). Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney, but even I think they need to take a back seat and let other projects have a chance.
If you absolutely must see everything Star Wars related, then go for it and hope my review doesn’t put you off too much. Otherwise, I’d say pass this one by, you won’t be missing anything if you do.
FINAL SCORE: 2.5/5
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