Solo: a Star Wars Story [movie reaction]

I watched Solo... well, solo. I had been following Star Wars since The Force Awakens (I only watched the original trilogy after that, I know I'm late). In the first movie Star Wars: A New Hope, when the hero Luke Skywalker leaves his home planet Tatooine, he needed a fast ship. Here's when Luke and Obi-Wan Kenobi meets the charming smuggler Han Solo, an iconic role played by Harrison Ford. Han Solo, his ship the Millenium Falcon, and his loyal Wookie partner Chewbacca have been very popular among Star Wars fans.

Solo is the second of the Star Wars stand-alone movies, next to 2015's Rogue One. The movie tells the origin story of the young Han Solo before A New Hope, how he came to be a pilot and his relationship with his frenemy Lando Calrissian. In The Empire Strikes Back, it is implied that Lando and Han had a long history together and the Solo movie attempts to tell it. It tries to tell the story of what makes Han Solo: how he got his name, how he met Chewbacca, how he got the Millenium Falcon, and how he came to be the charming rebel/hero we know.

In my opinion, Han Solo is quite more iconic than the main hero Luke Skywalker. Where Luke is innocent in the beginning, Han is world-weary, experienced, cool, and neutral. He's a charming smuggler and constantly sneaks his way around deals. At first, Han looks like he's not on the good or bad side - he's in it for himself and for money and that's part of his appeal. Though beneath the surface, Han also has a good heart. I love how the movie also showed that.

The challenge for this movie was finding the ideal actor to play Han Solo. That's quite a big role to fill! Of course, most fans would prefer the original actor. Harrison Ford has become synonymous with his character Han Solo even if its a known fact that the actor himself detests Star Wars and was delighted when the character finally died in The Force Awakens. 

Alden Ehrenreich, the young actor who played Han, did his best. I like that he didn't try to make an impersonation of Harrison Ford's Han Solo but just did it in his own way. Sure, he doesn't look or sound like the Han in the trilogy but I think he got the eyes right (including the cute little smirk).

One of the best things from the movie The Empire Strikes Back is the amusing relationship between Lando Calrissian and Han Solo. I love that this new one got their chemistry right. Many critics have praised Donald Glover for his acting and in the movie, he quite outshines Alden! Woody Harrelson also plays Tobias Beckett, Han Solo's mentor. Tobias warns Han that in their line of work, the only thing to expect is that "everyone will betray you."

The movie begins with a young Han Solo in his home planet Correlia, trying to escape with his girlfriend then, Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke). Though Qi'ra gets left behind, and Han does what he can in the next three years to find her again, though fate has other plans for her. He joins the Imperial Troops but then joins Beckett's group. Somewhere along the way, he meets Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), some sort of crime lord controlling some very expensive and very dangerous nuclear weapons. He finds Qi'ra working for Vos. Then, he meets Lando through Qi'ra.

The whole movie was certainly enjoyable and quick-paced, but in my opinion, the whole thing pales in comparison to the beauty and tragedy of Rogue One. For me, it was hard to follow in some parts and the sabacc games didn't hit right with me because I don't understand card games in the first place.

What I don't like is the romance between Han and Qi'ra which felt forced, and they lacked chemistry. Qi'ra is a very interesting character, a gorgeous femme fatale with a rough past and also has a self-serving agenda of her own. But there were too much kissing scenes between her and Han. It felt like the story relied too much on these scenes of physical intimacy to 'show' the romance between them. I prefer having them as past partners-in-crime or just best friends and not in a romantic relationship. I found myself cringing in my seat each time they kiss.

Also, I found it quite uncomfortable that in the few scenes between the female characters, they talk about the men mostly. There's a scene in the Millenium Falcon where the droid L3-37 talks to Qi'ra and it's the 'he likes ya, girl' conversation, which for me was totally unnecessary.

What I like is still the Lando/Han chemistry in the movie, and of course, Chewbacca. I love that Han just speaks Wookie when they meet and they're instantly best friends. There's also a gang of pirates called the Cloud Riders who turned out to be rebel forces, and the few scenes with the leader were also great... but they weren't fully explored in the movie. It was one of the few delightful scenes in the movie... along with the cameo of another iconic villain (clue: a Sith).

Overall, it was good but not so great but that's just my opinion. It was fun and fast, something like an exciting noir crime story taking place in space. It is something not to miss if you are a Star Wars or a Han Solo fan.

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