Welcome to the Force: The New Star Wars Film from Two Perspectives
A loyal fan and a Star Wars newbie compare notes on the stellar spin-off
I am a self-professed Star Wars noob. Before diving into the world of Solo: A Star Wars Story, I admit my knowledge on the franchise could be rounded down to a measly 1 on a scale of 1 to 10.
The opposite side of the spectrum is home to our art director. Having grown up with the stellar saga on her list of favorite movies, Alex is the ultimate Star Wars fan. The unique names I can hardly spell roll off her tongue like they’re terms of endearment of her childhood friends, names of planets and episodic titles masterfully filed in her mind’s cabinet.
That’s when it hit me: who better to recruit as my partner in crime for my first Star Wars experience than someone who knows the franchise like the back of her hand?
Solo would be the first glimpse I’d have into this vast spaceship-ridden world, so as far as expectations go, I was excited to see the film. Over the course of the past month I’ve done the necessary research to pen articles about Han Solo and Chewbacca, but I was at most a foot through the door. Despite hearing about the creative shifts encountered mid-project (the original directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller of The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street fame, were kicked off the production and replaced by Ron Howard) and knowing Solo technically isn’t a part of the original franchise, I was eager to see how it would fare. As it turns out these were the very reasons my colleague almost didn’t want to watch the film at all. The rumors of the lead actor needing an acting coach, the reports about the ousted directors––all these drove her, and a majority of the pre-existing Star Wars fandom’s excitement to a dwindling minimum.
Thankfully, good things happen when modest expectations meet surprising results.
I may not know much about Star Wars, but I do know that the narrative approach to Solo is drastically different from anything in the original story line. After all, to its core, Solo is a heist movie. Laced with schemes and blind-sided double-crossing, a little luck and lack thereof, it was one that kept me engaged all throughout, too—a feat in itself. Perhaps one of the most enjoyable parts of the film, from my fresh-eyed perspective, was the explanatory tidbits that answered questions I didn’t even realize I wanted the answers to. For instance, why is Han Solo’s name Han Solo anyway? The movie answers questions like this one with little Easter eggs that generously punctuate the plot.
To an extent, my partner in crime felt the same. We get a little of everything, but perhaps a deeper excavation could have been arranged. “I think it answered some questions but left a lot unanswered, too. It still has a lot of loose strings,” she explains. Towards the end of the movie, when the continuous action comes to a drastic slow, it did feel that way. But hey, doesn’t this sound like the ideal foundation for a sequel?
Next up: the actors. One of the first things I discovered upon hearing about Solo was that the actor playing the lead (Alden Ehrenreich), was completely new to the franchise. He had his work cut out for him: Harrison Ford’s Han has been nothing less than well-loved over the years. Right off the bat, I like that his portrayal was reminiscent of a young Jack Nicholson—from his attitude to his mannerisms. All in all, it was a valiant effort but one that left Star Wars aficionados looking for more. “I feel like the actor needs to tap a bit more into something, but the innocence and naiveté he added to the character was really refreshing to see,” says Alex.
Our best loved character? Donald Glover as Lando. Hands down. His snarky, hell-raising co-pilot is a close runner-up.
Ultimately, the movie was enjoyable on both fronts. With balanced doses of misadventures and backstory, allusions to existing characters and introductions to new ones, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a film that offers a refreshing glimpse into the stages leading up to the first—or the fourth, if we’re being technical—film where Han Solo and Chewbacca were introduced. Whether you’ve been with The Force for the long haul or have no idea what that reference even means, this movie is one you should catch on the silver screen.