Written by / 5/24/2018 / No comments / , , , , , , , , , , , ,

THURSDAY NIGHT REVIEW OF 'SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY'

Year of Release: 2018
About as intense as watching someone play a video game, or playing one you've already mastered... 
As is already known, Ron Howard had the task of correcting while directing SOLO — replacing the original filmmakers whose take was too comedic, or something that didn't gel with Lucasfilm's Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence (partnered with son Jonathan) Kasdan: Could be those poor young filmmakers, who made the popular kid flicks LEGO MOVIE and CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS, put too much color into a story meant to be edgy and dark...

A Pointy Falcon
If so, Ron Howard sure did darken it up, and not in a good BLADE RUNNER gloomy industrial kind of way. It's like looking outside a dirty window — at more dirt. And this galaxy doesn't seem all that far, far away like a fantasy-driven STAR WARS installment should. With human characters so immensely droll and mundane, every time the usual weird-looking alien pops up, it seems out of place and, for lack of a deeper, more insightful description, pretty stupid.

But there's really only one big question for die-hard fans concerning this STAR WARS STORY. Does He live up to Him? Him meaning Harrison Ford and He meaning Alden Ehrenreich, not tall and deep-voiced but an irritating shrimp with a nasally whine, as if Leonardo DiCaprio were imitating Christian Slater channeling Jack Nicholson...

With a filler girlfriend/crush (Emilia Clarke), and the gurgling Chewbacca at his side (after meeting in a fight scene that could've been decent given more logic in the first place), Ehrenreich doesn't even seem to be trying — for anything. His brand of cocky confidence is narrowed into a bratty grin. And while critics are praising Donald Glover's imitation of Lando Calrissian, he's got as much to do with the story as anyone on board: He's just there. And bored.

SoloMovieScore: *
With a non-existent plot involving several raids including a train robbery (why would tracks be needed in a world full of hovering vehicles?) to nab some kind of expensive gas to pay off a crime lord, the attempt for a pulpy pirate adventure is drowned-out by melodramatic pathos concerning slave labor, which happens on a pathetic, pretentious, manipulative loop. Even Lando's female robot literally screams for "equal rights"...

And while Woody Harrelson tries his best as a semi-rogue named Beckett (the kind of clever/crooked mentor you'd think Solo would emulate to reach his maverick NEW HOPE persona), he's simply another ragged soul along for the ride. What's meant to be the most suspenseful scene is both a carbon-copy and contradiction of the Millennium Falcon asteroid-dodge in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. The characters are either sitting on board the old reliable ship or flying it. Neither matters. It's about as intense as watching someone play a video game, or playing one you've already mastered... 

While SOLO seems to be about how the experienced, world-weary smuggler acquired the guts to take big risks at a young age, Alden Ehrenreich plays him so bland and lazy, any intrepid skills seem merely built-in and unexplained during capers both simplistic and overly-complicated. But nothing's worse than the random pockets of embarrassingly awkward silences: Whether it be after Ehrenreich fouls-up yet another glib one-liner, or Chewbacca waiting passively for something meaningful to react to, Ron Howard, in attempting to resurrect a broken engine, has pieced together a vapid, sterile machine that's not just a let-down in the inevitable grade-curve of the STAR WARS franchise, but is simply a lousy, cheap-looking movie. Period.
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