Support Local Journalism. Donate to Cleveland Scene.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Why is 'SOLO?'

Posted By on Thu, May 24, 2018 at 11:51 AM

click to enlarge Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
  • Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
If you dispense with the notion that 28-year-old Alden Ehrenreich is playing a "young Han Solo" in Solo: A Star Wars Story, the latest installment in what has quickly become a sprawling cinematic universe, you'll have a much less fidgety viewing experience. 

Think of Ehrenreich as a Hank Bolo or a Stan Bulbo or a Frank Grillo. Definitely don't compare his hair or his height or his voice or his little simper to Harrison Ford's. It's a fool's errand. Ehrenreich is not the Han Solo of Star Wars, and watching him give what is honestly a creditable performance exposes the folly of Disney's origin story, which was originally directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (the Lego Movie dudes) but was handed off to Ron Howard mid-stream after manifold tales of on-set incompetence and what Lord and Miller referred to as "deep fundamental philosophical differences" in filmmaking styles.

Given the shake-up, I'd been anticipating even more sloppiness, narrative jogs and tonal inconsistency — directors obviously being in the habit of advancing personalized and often opposing interpretations of line delivery and character arcs — but Solo holds up as a story, for the most part. I thought it was a lot less bumpy than Rogue One, which everyone now seems to worship but which I thought was riddled with bad choices and, the occasional stunning moment notwithstanding, presented more like fan fiction than the meticulously plotted product of a multi-billion-dollar studio. 



In Solo, Han is a scrappy urchin living under the thumb of an aquatic criminal boss named Lady Proxima. He and his girlfriend Qi'Ra (Emilia Clarke, in her best performance to date) attempt a daring escape off their heavy-industrial mob-controlled planet in the film's opening sequence. Han then joins the Empire with the hopes of becoming a pilot and soon falls in with a ragtag band of outlaws, led by Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and Val (Thandie Newton.)

The criminal syndicates, in this expanding Star Wars narrative build-out, are concerned with the acquisition of hyperfuel and its key ingredient, coaxium. Beckett and his crew must steal a huge amount of it for the mob boss Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), the theft of which comprises the main action of the film. The best sequence is teased in the trailers. It's a sci-fi take on a great train robbery. Han, Beckett, Val and the crew attempt to hijack a mountainside transport shuttle but encounter a few unforeseen challenges as they do. Get pumped. It's great. 

It pains me to report that Donald Glover is weak as Lando Calrissian — like, super weak — and a B-storyline involving him and his robot L3 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bride, is one of the more bizarre and stupid elements the franchise has endeavored to capture onscreen. 

Ehrenreich, to his credit, plays a charming, rakish outlaw. His name just happens to be Han Solo, which is not Ehrenreich's fault! He's a lovable character. He just has zero of the moral complications and me-first pigheadedness that made Harrison Ford's Solo the adored anti-hero that he was. Han was the original trilogy's favorite character, if not the most recognizable (that distinction goes to Vader), and one of the most beloved movie characters of all time, trailing only Indiana Jones and James Bond on Empire's list. It's natural that Disney and Lucasfilm want to cash in.

Han's relationship with Qi'Ra is one of the most satisfying story lines. There are unanswered questions by the film's end, and a wholly unwelcome, preposterous cameo, which invites truly scary ideas about what they're cooking up for a sequel, but Clarke aquits herself well in a complicated role and delivers perhaps the film's most memorable line.

Just don't bother trying to make logical connections between the Han Solo of this film's end and the Han Solo of A New Hope's beginning.

Tags: , , , , , ,

We’re keeping you informed…
...and it’s what we love to do. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, Scene Magazine has been keeping Cleveland informed for years.

It’s never been more important to support local news sources, especially as we all deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. Almost everything Scene is about -- our stories, our events, our advertisers -- comes down to getting together. With events on hold, and no print distribution for the foreseeable future, every little bit helps.

A free press means accountability and a well-informed public, and we want to keep our unique and independent reporting available for many, many years to come.

If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to Scene. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture. Thank you.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation