The road through development and production of Ron Howard’s Star Wars spinoff Solo was a rocky one to say the least. In fact, it wasn’t always the Academy Award winning director’s film. After rumors of chaos on set began to spread like wildfire, as well as rumblings of their displeasure with the lead performance from Alden Ehrenreich, original helmers Chris Miller and Phil Lord were eventually replaced by Howard after six months of filming. We’ll never know exactly how much influence each party had on the final product, and that includes The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi scribe Lawrence Kasdan, who returned to influence and pen the screenplay alongside his son Jonathan, but it’s crystal clear that Solo is a plagued and unnecessary addition to the Star Wars film universe.
A young Han Solo (Ehrenreich) becomes involved in his usual shenanigans after trying to rip-off a dangerous underground crime syndicate in order to escape the dreck of his home planet alongside his lover Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). Unfortunate circumstances allow only Han to escape freely, as the daring pilot vows to earn enough money to buy his own ship and return back to the planet to reclaim his lover. While away, Han joins a band of thieves that put his life in danger as he’s forced to take part in a risky mission alongside franchise regulars Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) that comes with deadly consequences.
At its core, a plot-driven and emotionless void swallows Ron Howard’s valiant attempt at saving this doomed project. Solo unravels like a safe and superficial checklist towards developing the character’s origins and bridging his connections to George Lucas’ initial trilogy. Throughout the film it becomes difficult pinpointing whether this lack of depth is caused by thinly written characters or weak onscreen portrayals, and that criticism even includes a personal favorite of mine, Woody Harrelson, who gives one of the most forgettable turns of his career. Yet, no matter where the blame ultimately lies, the sad truth is that the Star Wars saga will continue to follow in the money-printing footsteps of Marvel’s cinematic universe no matter how watered-down the overall product becomes. I’d also be remiss not to mention the loathsome qualities regarding this feature’s most significant droid, L3. Her sassy and progressive demeanor is both off-putting and annoying. The franchise’s newer droid character have been molded to create comic relief, however their increasingly over-the-top nature is beginning to get out of hand, a clear sign that “the powers that be” are grasping at straws.
Now, perhaps Solo was simply destined to fail, with warning signs and red flags popping up throughout the entire filmmaking process. Or there may be an even more troubling interpretation of this hollow and worthless inclusion, and the Star Wars franchise may be headed down a worrisome path that could ultimately sour the amazing foundation built by George Lucas over 40 years ago.