Matthew L. Brady’s review published on Letterboxd:
“It's risky, but it's worth a try”.
At least you tried.
Even before the camera’s began rolling, this movie was met with trouble. You probably heard all about the behind the scenes drama - If not, basically Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were attached to direct, but got fired halfway through shooting, because I’m guessing Lucasfilm had no idea these guys are best known for making comedy movies, even though you hired them to add ‘a comedic touch’. Lord and Miller were replaced by Ron Howard. An acting coach was called on set for Alden Ehrenreich who’s playing Han Solo, as he was struggling to capture the spirit of Fords iconic character. Michael Kenneth Williams role was removed from the final film and new characters added in.
Just madness. However, how was the final product? Surely it must have paid off, right? Well, not quite.
‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ is a mix bag and feels unimportant. Nothing about it felt thrilling or exciting. Not to say it’s a bad movie, because it’s not. There is good things about it and surprisingly none of the re-shoots showed, it’s not visible like “Justice League”. Unfortunately, the flat jokes and an obvious cash grab for future franchises only left me cold. It adds nothing to the Star Wars universe, just exploring little things we were told about briefly in better movies. Nobody asked for it and yet here we are, so let's dive in.
I couldn't imagine the amount of pressure Alden Ehrenreich was facing. Talking on an iconic character played by the most iconic actor alive today. Must be a daunting task and the fan base didn't help either. His casting was met with a lot of negative reactions - I, however, always stood by Ehrenreich ever since he’s casting, after seeing his breakout performance in “Hail, Caesar!” gave me a little hope for the young Solo. I can safely say that he deserved a good performance and never felt like an impression of Harrison Ford. Portraying him more innocent and naive. Although, I can think of others actors who would've gotten the part and might have done it better. I must admit, there was plenty of times where I kept on forgetting he was Han Solo, but from what he had to work with, he did the best he could and I applaud him for that.
Donald Glover does a great job capturing the mannerisms and the voice of Lando Calrissian. You can tell he put a lot of effort into this role. Even trying to step into the shadow of Billy Dee Williams and he slips right in. While feeling like an impersonation at times, but makes every scene enjoyable to watch, no matter what. Comparing the two actors, you can see this younger version transforming into the older version of the character, easily.
Emilia Clarke was fine. She’s certainly better here than any other movie or role outside from Game of Thrones. I didn't fully buy the chemistry between Emilia and Ehrenreich, and yet, that never took me out of the movie, as it wasn't prequel level bad. I must say, her character could go into an interesting route if Lucasfilm kept they promise of where she could go next from the set up. I’m interested to see where it goes, to be honest.
The others cast members were also great. Thandie Newton and Jon Favreau, while having small screen time, but brought so much character into their roles that I wished both stuck around a little longer. Same thing with Paul Bettany, who could've been a fantastic villain if more development and screen time was put into his character. I mean, a space gangster with sag sounds amazing. Still, Bettany was excellent and was clearly fun with this role. I’m surprised not a lot of people are talking about Woody Harrelson, who’s great in everything and proven to have a wide range of incredible roles under his belt - Of course here, there’s no difference. Towards the end of the film, I didn't like where he’s character went, but I blame the writing on that, not the actor. What more is there to say about Woody, he’s never given a bad performance.
Ron Howard did the best he could, as a last minute replacement to fix all loose ends. The camera work during the action sequences were visually pleasing and very much his style of film making. Let's not forget the gorgeous cinematography and some fantastic set designs, creature, and droid designs.
Now for my issues with the film: Despite some nice looking shots, the dark color palette and how poorly lit this movie was really surprised me, because it didn't add anything to the story. Some may argue it adds to environment of the story, but to me just made it look worse. Every Time there was a reference, nod or wink from the original franchise it kinda felt, well…’forced’. I saw this almost a week ago and nothing super memorable stuck with me.
Oh and L3-37 is the absolute worst. The character itself is another sassy droid duplicating K-2SO from Rogue One. The difference here, she got on my nerves straight away. The droid rights sup plot kept pushing the main focus away from the actual story itself. Many have pointed out how she came across as a parody of SJW (Social Justice Warrior) and I can see the comparison. It's odd that Disney would do that, being all about diversity and equal rights would make a joke of this. Just replace L3 with Thandie Newton character and everything will be fine.
Speaking of the studios...
Lucasfilm needs to get their act together if the schedule of movies expands to 2030, from what some early reports say. It’s obvious there’s no plan with these movies and making up things as they go along. Because as I speak, this movie is under performing at the box office as fans clearly had enough. From what I have heard, that cameo at the end was only added in at the last minute. Telling the origin of a character that should have be left as a mystery. You even find out how he got his name and how that scene was presented was so cheesy.
Overall Rating: “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is a mess saved by a great cast, great production designs, impressive action scenes, and characters (except for L3). I've heard different opinions for this movie - Both sides gave solid arguments and made me realize this movie has it’s fans. Again, not a bad movie, just a decent one. Also lightsaber!