Solo: A Star Wars Story is an entertaining space western adventure

The film excels because of its compelling lead, impressive cast, and aesthetically pleasing worlds

Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

By: Jonathan Pabico

Attention, Star Wars fans — Han Solo’s past is finally revealed in Solo: A Star Wars Story! The film pays homage to classic westerns, while providing intricate storytelling, fearless characters, and a captivating lead, all of which combine to create an unforgettable narrative.

     Alden Ehrenreich is phenomenal as the young Han Solo. Perhaps best known for his role in Hail, Caesar!, Ehrenreich delivers the most impressive performance in the film. He perfectly captures Solo’s bold charisma as an aspiring outlaw and his hotshot personality as an ace pilot, but Ehrenreich completes the role by making it his own. The film also portrays Solo as a lonely street kid in a society ruled only by crime, violence, and mistrust — an extraordinarily different aspect not seen in Harrison Ford’s performance as the legendary Star Wars character.

     The Da Vinci Code director Ron Howard structures this film as a rollicking entry to the Star Wars franchise. Howard’s use of immense scale and vast set pieces enables us to savour the characters’ journeys across the film’s strange worlds. The story’s wastelands are visually sublime, but deeply foreshadow the treacheries experienced by the film’s characters. Still, Howard offers multiple action sequences that pay homage to the Star Wars mythology. They appeal to fans through their glorious imagery, especially in exciting moments where a more pristine Millennium Falcon outmaneuvers TIE fighters.

     The film’s complex narrative combines traits of western film with heist elements. While the story has an outlaw culture, the movie alludes to bank robbery films through unexpected twists and an elaborate train heist. However, the movie’s humour falls short and the music is not as impassioned as the soundtrack from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

     The core aspect of the film revolves around the fateful encounter and friendship between Solo and everyone’s favourite wookiee, Chewbacca. The meeting captivates fans with its nostalgia and honours the legacy of these beloved heroes. Solo also fascinates us with its other engrossing character dynamics. Howard brilliantly sets up Solo’s raw levity with a young Lando Calrissian (Atlanta star Donald Glover). Solo and Lando’s witty dialogue during a poker game is quite entertaining and their edgy interactions are elevated by a background of golden yellows mixed with empty, negative space that evokes an ardent atmosphere similar to the climactic poker game in Casino Royale.

     Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra,  Solo’s love interest, provides understanding and trust that the story’s disordered society copiously lacks. Woody Harrelson portrays a duplicitous character as having a sense of belonging and family through his relationship with Solo as a mentor and father figure — but at the same time, he’s a cunning thief with vested interest at hand. Overall, these actors’ performances strangely romanticize the harsh settings that their characters inhabit.

     Solo: A Star Wars Story is an epic space western with immersive set pieces and lawless environments. With a powerful performance from Ehrenreich, the film is definitely an entertaining origin story that shapes Solo as one of the most memorable characters in the Star Wars franchise.