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Summer Movie Review: Solo

Latest Star Wars film has plenty of action, but lacks substance

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Ellie Klee
The movie poster for Solo hangs next to Deadpool 2 outside Regal Newtown Cinemas. Newtown is the main destination for teenage moviegoers this summer, featuring plenty of theaters and blasting A/C.

For more than four decades, audiences around the world have been captivated by Han Solo—the cynical, smooth-talking bad boy of the Star Wars franchise.  He and his furry copilot Chewbacca have been main characters in five of the blockbusters so far.  Their latest romp through the galaxy, Solo: A Star Wars Story, came out on May 24th.

Solo follows its title character (played by Alden Ehrenreich) through his young adult life.  He escapes crime-riddled planet Corellia, but has to leave behind his girlfriend Qi’ra (portrayed by Game of Thrones actress Emilia Clarke).  Along his journey back to her, he joins and deserts the galactic military, links up with a gang of pirates (Woody Harrelson plays Beckett, its leader), and meets good old Chewie (Joonas Suotamo dons the giant hairy suit) in a mud-wrestling pit.  Standouts include Phoebe Waller-Bridge (who British fans may know from sitcoms Crashing and Fleabag) as the voice of L3-37, who makes her overwritten dialogue sound revolutionary, and multihyphenate singer-writer-comedian Donald Glover, who captures Lando Calrissian with an elevated cool.

Solo will check most diehard fans’ boxes: fast pace, space battles, droid quips, starship jargon, and the dramatic reintroduction of a cult favorite character.  It does little more than that.  Part of Han Solo’s appeal was his air of mystery, which this movie snatches away. Fans were previously left to wonder what wild intergalactic misadventures left the smuggler with a price on his head.  The movie’s only big

Ellie Klee
Emilia Clarke’s name rolls across the end credits. Clarke, who most people know from her star turn as Khaleesi in competing nerd epic “Game of Thrones,” plays the female lead Qi’ra in Solo. Her character leaves behind a few mysteries, opening the door for yet another spinoff.

surprise is that Han is a little boring.  Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13) gets the directorial credit—Phil Lord and Chris Miller (The Lego Movie, 21 Jump Street), who originally helmed the project, were fired midway through production due to “creative differences.”  The film could’ve used Lord and Miller’s fresh, lighthearted touch.  Solo comes across as purposeless—unless making money counts as a purpose.

Solo is not an objectively bad movie.  In the context of the legendary franchise it is part of, though, it looks mediocre.  The film doesn’t explain how Han becomes the charming rogue that viewers fell in love with 40 years ago.  It prefers to focus vapidly on how he got his stuff, like the Millennium Falcon.  Solo also suffers from its prequel status– the viewer already knows that Han, Chewbacca, and Lando live to star in the Original Trilogy.  This removes all the tension and suspense that the best Star Wars movies are known for.

Ethan Agnello
Seniors Chris Paolucci and John Gresham are lifelong Star Wars fanboys. Here, they reenact a scene from The Last Jedi, in which Luke Skywalker must battle the evil Kylo Ren.

Lafayette senior Chris Paolucci, a self-described “massive fan,” claims Solois “painfully average.”  Jamestown senior Barrett Wilson said that he’ll “spend a few months wondering about the reappearance of one of [his] favorite characters.”  “Star Trek is still better,” said fellow JHS senior Monica Laubach.  However, the movie is not without its supporters.  LHS senior Madison Meredith described the movie as a “thoroughly enjoyable experience.” Carolyn Bennett, government employee and longtime Williamsburg resident, said “I thought it was a fun movie from start to finish, and I enjoyed seeing how Han Solo became the man he is.”

Lauren Roth
Senior Lauren Roth incorporated Solo into her promposal. She asked her boyfriend Timmy Warren before they saw the movie.

Although Solo was supposed to be among this summer’s biggest hits, it’s been a financial flop so far.  Its projected $330-350 million total box office would be the lowest ever for a Star Wars film.  This is chump change for Disney Studios, which raked in a $2 billion gross for 2015’s The Force Awakens. Perhaps Solo followed the most recent Star Wars movie too quickly—after five months, fans are still chewing on The Last Jedi.  Perhaps the other megafranchise in town, from Marvel Studios, has just been too good this year (February’s Black Panther, April’s Infinity War).  Whatever the reason, Solo’s run isn’t promising for the six other Star Wars movies and TV show that are in development.  Disney’s cash cow might finally be running out of milk.

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Summer Movie Review: Solo