Solo: A Star Wars Story
Starring Alden Ehrenreich,Emila Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, Donald Grover
Directed by Ron Howard
Rating: **(2 Stars).
Okay, so the bottomline first: should you be investing two hours of your time in yet another Star Wars film , specially since the last few films in the franchise have been pretty much disastrous?
The answer is no. Solo : A Star Wars Story is a sluggish, long-drawn attempt to cash in on a brand that has seen better days.Tattered at edge worn at the centre,this particular quick-fix franchise-extension is cocaine for the soul that suffers from credibility issues from the word go.
For one, I found it hard to believe that young Alden Ehrenreich(I remember seeing him as a child in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine) is supposed to be the young Han Solo.Come on! We grew up watching Harrison Ford as Han Solo. Now suddenly this imposter shows up claiming to be the the younger far more naïve and reckless avatar of the Ford character.
Could we see the passport , please?
Sure, we believe you when you say this Han is the same man we’ve been watching for 40 years.As much as we believed Dev Patel to be the grownup avatar of the amazing little Sunny Pawar in Lion.
Damn, River Phoenix was a spitting image of Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade. Alden Ehrenreich looks like an imposter masquerading as Ford. Hence credibility issues pop up from the start and never stop plaguing the hurling toppling plot.
The film opens as a ghetto-level Romeo & Juliet where the young Han Solo is separated from the love of his life Qi’ira(Emilia Clarke) as they make a bid to escape from low-life drudgery in a set-up that looks like Robinson Crusoe’s island after it has been marauded by drugged revellers.
I expected the struggle for the lovers to be reunited would take up a major part of the storytelling. But no. Han ‘Solo’ and Qi’ira are soon re-united and are off in a spaceship far away from their wretched lives on a planet that bids them adieu with the same enthusiasm we would like to see the Star Wars franchise being sent off with .
(A question: if Han is no longer solo, why didn’t he change his name to Han Duet?)
So where were we? Han and his girl(they look like siblings and behave as such except for a suspicious smooch force-fed into the narration to simulate some passion) are re-united.
This, according to me, is the end of the movie. But hang on. There is a still a good 100 minutes of ersatz action and manufactured majesty to be borne.So bereft of genuine inspiration is this ‘prequel’ to a decades’ old franchise that we soon begin to wonder where all of this is leading to.
Time for some tokenism to be introduced. Black American characters, as essential to big-screen spectacles as spectacles to aging scholars who cannot read the fine print in life’s book of serendipity, pop up with calculated nonchalance. There are Donald Grover and Thandie Newton as social outcastes/criminals whose function in the plot is as indeterminate as Priyanka Chopra’s fascinator at the royal wedding, multiplied by 2.
It all comes crashing down into a wall of apathy generated by hemmed-in characters who are constantly running around in a swirl of computer-generated visuals which erroneously suggest a link between action and reaction. Director Ron Howard(he once made the thoughtful and sensitive A Beautiful Mind) thinks the stunt-stress would automatically galvanize the audience into a state of alert attentiveness.
Sorry, Solo A Star Wars Saga is DOA filmmaking. The plot depends on a string of ill-conceived hecticity that drags us unwillingly through a journey we don’t want to come along for. I suspect the Star Wars franchise died with Carrie Fisher.
Princess Lea is dead. Long live Princess Lea.