No spoilers here!

With the many issues surrounding Solo: A Star Wars Story during its production, the chances of the latest addition in the Star Wars franchise being a huge critical and financial hit along the likes of The Force Awakens and Rogue One are slim to none. However, the galaxy’s favourite scoundrel would like to remind you to never tell him the odds. Solo: A Star Wars Story tells the origin tale of Han Solo that takes place more than a decade before the events of the original Star Wars.

Even before production begun, Solo was facing an enormous amount of challenge and pressure from fans and critics alike. The notion of recasting Han Solo is as daunting as it sounds, considering the fact that for over four decades the role of Han Solo and Harrison Ford are synonymous. On top of that, the scruffy-looking nerf herder already had a fully realized arc from Star Wars to The Force Awakens, which resulted in many feeling that the movie is merely an attempt to milk the franchise set in a galaxy far, far away. However to the surprise of many, Solo is a well put together action-adventure film that offers many fun and endearing moments, albeit being rather dull and uninteresting in its narrative.

Solo’s greatest strength perhaps, is its tremendous ensemble of cast and their electrifying chemistry between one another. Despite doing a less than stellar job in developing new characters such as Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), Solo excels in utilising legacy characters such as Han (Alden Ehrenreich), Chewie (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando (Donald Glover), providing plenty pleasant moments of banter and interaction that are sure to appease the audience.

Ehrenreich delivers a nuanced and charismatic performance as Han Solo. Whether it be a subtle change in his expression, or a shrug off his shoulders, Ehrenreich succeeds in his portrayal as Han Solo, introducing a Han that’s a little more optimistic and inexperienced than the one we’ve come to love in the original Star Wars, yet retaining much of his attitude and sarcasm. In addition, Donald Glover’s spot on take as Lando Calrissian is bound to satisfy and impress fans of the character, proving once again that he is the ultimate working artist of our generation. (This is America Cloud City?)

However, where Solo succeeds in utilising its legacy characters, it falters sorely in its narrative and plot. Unlike The Force Awakens with Kylo Ren or Rogue One with Orson Krennic, Solo is hurt immensely without the presence of an actual main antagonist. Sure, Paul Bettany’s Dryden Vos is intimidating whenever he’s on screen, however since his scenes are so few and far between, it doesn’t provide a sense of urgency that the film desperately needed.

In addition, with its main cast consisting a considerable amount of legacy characters, Solo rarely feels like it has actual stakes for its characters. We already know characters like Han and Chewie make it through the events of Solo (considering they are both well and alive throughout the original trilogy), therefore lessening the impact of whatever conflict that they may face. As for the new characters, due to the lack of screen time (an issue that was apparent in Rogue One too), the audience are not able to invest enough in them to care about their fates.

On the other hand, the film does a great job in showing a part of the Star Wars universe that’s rarely explored throughout the saga films. Through Solo, we are able to see the ramifications of the Empire on the ground level of the galaxy. Solo shows the audience that not every corner of the galaxy are about space dogfights, or lightsaber wielding monks. Alongside fun action sequences, spectacular visuals, and composer John Powell’s memorable score, Solo fits snuggly in the four-decade spanning film series.

All in all, despite its at times dull plot, Solo: A Star Wars Story makes up for it with its fun action sequences and plenty of memorable character moments. Where last year’s The Last Jedi succeeds by breaking conventions and subverting expectations (although to the contempt of some), Solo struggles to reach new heights by playing it safe, despite being a fun and enjoyable ride.  With its disappointing box office haul over the weekend, it is interesting to see how Lucasfilm alongside Disney will approach the long rumored Obi-Wan and Boba Fett standalone films. Whatever their decision on those projects may be, at least we still have Episode IX to look forward next.

Read more: Star Wars: The Good, the Bad and the Dark Side

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