Synopsis: Young Han Solo finds adventure when he joins a gang of galactic smugglers, including a 196-year-old Wookie named Chewbacca. Indebted to the gangster Dryden Vos, the crew devises a daring plan to travel to the mining planet Kessel to steal a batch of valuable coaxium. In need of a fast ship, Solo meets Lando Calrissian, the suave owner of the perfect vessel for the dangerous mission -- the Millennium Falcon.
Main Feature: A friend told me that "Solo: A Star Wars Story" was a fun, unnecessary film. And I get that, from a certain point of view. Sure, there are adventurous, entertainment bits, but did we need it? Too much of a good thing turns out bad. And for my biased opinion as a "Star Wars" fanatic, we don't need a film about each character (Salacious Crumb prequel, anyone?). Even the popular ones. It waters down the impact the original vision of said character had. Harrison Ford's Han Solo made an immediate impact on film audiences with his natural charm, wry intellect and smuggler swagger. I understand I should not account the behind the scenes drama (original co-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were fired due to creative differences with two weeks left in principal photography; Ron Howard stepped in shortly thereafter) into my opinion of the film, but it kept festering in my head while I watched "Solo." That's maybe where I get the unnecessary part of my opinion from: after all the hub-bub, did we need to still go ahead with it? If it were under any other ownership, it would be considered, but Disney invested in "Star Wars." So, with as much effort as I can muster, I can acknowledge the charm of the film and fun aspects. I love the Western motifs (a space monorail hijacking echoes wonderfully as a great Western train robbery). I love Donald Glover as Lando. Woody Harrelson is having fun. I am not sure if I love Alden Ehrenreich as our famed title character. Ford had a natural charisma for the character that just flowed naturally and without flaw. Ehrenreich has the look down, but appears to be forcing the charm. Tackling a popular franchise character made famous by one of the biggest movie stars of all time can be an insurmountable task for anyone. Ehrenreich isn't so much trying to be Harrison Ford, but he's trying to force the personality. You believed Ford was Han Solo because of his personality. We have the image of Solo because of it. Again, trying to ignore the fact that Howard's team had to bring in an acting coach for Ehrenreich, the final product is not bad. But he's not as much of a natural of what we expect the character to be. I had a bad feeling about this from the outset--even under Lord and Miller. Multiple viewings could sway me more, but my carbonite-hardened pessimism prior melted somewhat away.
Special Features: I was slightly miffed by the fact that the sticker on the slipcover for "Solo" said 'Over an hour of extras.' Usually, its scream loud 'Hours of extras!' Perhaps they didn't want too much of the BTS drama to bleed into the special features. Aside from a digital Copy of the film, extras in quantity are in the double digits, but are brief individually. It's a fluffy look behind the curtain, positive to dispel those naysayers. A cast & crew roundtable is my favorite. The group there clearly wants to make a bad situation good. I'm sure the ability and proof to say "I was part of 'Star Wars'" is enough, but they lump on their pinch-me moments on-set, etc.
Final Call: "Solo: A Star Wars Story" had a scruffy looking production, but the end result goes above and beyond 12 parsecs to satisfy.