'It doesn't suck' - Solo: A Star Wars Story review

When it comes to the Han Solo story, the one I've always imagined deep in the dark recesses of my nerdy Star Wars soul will forever be the one most precious to me.

Han came to us in A New Hope perfectly formed, the original Rogue One, his enigmatic rakish charm oozing from his every pore. I just don't need to know more than that.

But here we have it; Solo: A Star Wars Story, and of course my appetite for all things galactic means I will happily dive in for another serving from Lucasfilm.

But did this one leave me feeling replete? Well, if The Force Awakens was a fan-tastic all-you-can-eat smorgasbord feast, then Solo was maybe that late night drive-through burger that kinda tasted OK at the time, but you really didn't need.

So is it simply the law of diminishing Star Wars returns? Is a Star Wars film a year simple overkill?

Let me state here and now when it comes to this canon my answer is simply NO, that equation does not even exist in this universe. So what let this Solo backstory down in the main for me is not so much that it exists, but that this telling of it doesn't give it reason to.

Alden Ehrenreich as Han in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Alden Ehrenreich in Solo: A Star Wars Story Photo credit: Lucasfilm

There is Han (Alden Ehrenreich), before he is Solo. Without any spoilers that aren't already obvious from the trailers, this story will tell us about how Han meets Chewbacca (Joonas Suatamo) and goes on to face Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) across a crowed Sabacc card table with the Millennium Falcon in the pot for the winner.

Fleshing out the cast is Mother of Dragons Qi'Ra (Emilia Clarke), bad guy Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) and outlaw Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), each and every one just trying to make their way in the universe, thieving and fighting as they go. It's not a complicated endeavour as stories go, but as it happens, it's just not a particularly good one.

My first shocking confession is this: for much of the time I didn't really feel like I was in a Star Wars film (cue gasps of horror). And it's not just the fact it's a standalone entry and therefore no classic crawl and John Williams iconic fanfare to kick off proceedings.

It just didn't mainline directly into my heart the way all the other recent films did from the get-go. Even Rogue One, with its entirely fresh cast, managed to feel almost immediately embedded in lore.

And prepare yourselves for this next outrageous revelation, as I use a word I have never ever used to describe a Star Wars film EVER, but I am sorry to say this one is surprising dull in places.

The third act certainly delivered a far more engaging storyline, with action sequences and power-plays that rolled out with some genuine energy and peril; but the muddling middle lost me completely.

My Last Hope Lando didn't seal the deal for me either. Glover certainly gives the role a little pizzazz, but no more so than Billy Dee Williams did before him.

So should you bother at all? If you call yourself a fan then of course you should and clearly don't need me or anyone else to tell you that. I would even argue that perhaps the uninitiated - those three people yet to watch a Star Wars film - might enjoy this for what it is; a mostly entertaining few hours of non-essential cinema.

For me, I'm glad I saw it, and I'm just really glad it didn't suck.

Three stars.


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