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The latest in the Star Wars franchise: fun and forgettable

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A love lasting decades: The Han and Chewie Story. - JONATHAN OLLEY
  • Jonathan Olley
  • A love lasting decades: The Han and Chewie Story.

The fairly unheralded arrival of "Solo: A Star Wars Story," is the first time I can remember when the release of a new Star Wars movie doesn't feel like an event. The fact that we get a new one every year might have something to do with it, or it might have something to do with what I call the Marvel Effect.

Marvel Studios has proven it can release a movie around any time of the year and it will make money, completely blasting the idea that blockbusters have to be released in summer or at Christmas to make a billion dollars. Now we get huge tentpole movies all year round, and smaller prestige pictures come out in December.

It's a shame "Solo" is being slightly ignored, because it's a solid look at the early days of Han Solo. Viewers ride along as he becomes a rebel and a lovable rogue and most importantly, the best friend of Chewbacca. Without spoiling anything, I'll say we get to see quite a few iconic moments, only hinted about in the original trilogy.

The production of "Solo" was a highly publicized mess, with directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller fired deep into production and replaced by Ron Howard. Rumors also circulated that Alden Ehrenreich, the somewhat inexperienced actor playing Han Solo, was forced to use an acting coach sent to the set by Lucasfilm.

Viewers won't notice these issues in the film—basically a heist story thrown into the Star Wars universe. Ehrenreich is a charming Solo without doing an impression of Harrison Ford and Donald Glover steals the film with both hands as Lando Calrissian. Ron Howard's direction seems more energized than he's been in years. "Solo" isn't a masterpiece and it's definitely not bad by any means, instead existing somewhere in that nebulous area of "solidly unremarkable."

Would I have been more excited by the film if I hadn't just seen Deadpool decapitating Yakuza or Thanos throwing a moon at Iron Man? Probably. "Solo" is old-fashioned fun, content to tell a simple story set in a universe we know and love. There's nothing very flashy about it, although the cinematography from Bradford Young ("Arrival") is gorgeous, bouncing between sumptuous blues and bone-chilling whites, elevating the movie far past the somewhat pedestrian script.

"Solo" leaves several doors open for future films set in that time period, including a baffling twist at the end that made zero sense to me. I'm cautiously excited to see Ehrenreich and Glover step back into their roles. It would be nice to see a script worthy of their talents, considering that the Star Wars franchise usually tells stories worth remembering as opposed to ones that feel like random episodes of a TV show about the Adventures of Young Han Solo.

This is what happens when nerds like me get too much of a good thing. We get "Avengers" and "Deadpool" and so much other geek entertainment that when something as solid as "Solo" comes around, it just feels underwhelming. Poor us.

Solo
Dir. Ron Howard
Grade: B-
Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX, Sisters Movie House, Redmond Cinema

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