‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’: Alden Ehrenreich holds his stead as Han Solo (IANS Review, Rating: ***)

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Film: “Solo: A Star Wars Story”; Director: Ron Howard; Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe-Waller Bridge, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau, Linda Hunt; Rating: ***

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is the second stand-alone instalment, after the 2016 release “Rogue One” and it is the ninth film of the Star Wars anthology which was created by George Lucas in 1977.

Set between the events of “Revenge of the Sith” and “A New Hope”, it is a throwback, origins story that explores the adventures of the young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and his faithful associate Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo).

How did Han Solo meet Chewbacca? How did he meet Lando Calrissian? How he became captain of the Millennium Falcon? How did he get involved with Jabba the Hutt? And, how he became a smuggler, thief and a scoundrel? The film informs us about all that, astonishingly. It tells us all of Han’s backstory that we’ve heard mentioned across the Star Wars Franchise with great simplicity and clarity.

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It would be difficult to explain to those who are not initiated into the Star War Universe, given the absolute wear and tear of the different sagas and universes that dominate American Studio films.

In the given scenario, “Solo: A Star Wars Story”, could be considered as a galactic Euro- Western, where a group of outlaws, led by Solo and his accomplices have to perform a series of action, in progressive escalation of tension. The qualitative power of the film can be measured according to the scope of each of these set-pieces; The first great sequence is a train robbery that is so reminiscent of the magnificent, 1959 released, “Last Train From Gun Hill” and the Sergio Leone directed, 1965 released – “For a Few Dollars More”.

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Also, scene by scene, you can’t ignore the functionality of the subject. And thus it is not strange to see in its aesthetics the action-packed, boom-crash, that populates this blockbuster.

The plot moves at an even scale despite a rapid narrative rhythm with a character that knows little. The film focuses on Han alone and hence it does not risk too much after defining his comfort zone. It moves comfortably between the parameters of a universe that, far from being extinguished, manages to renew itself without hardly changing anything.

But it is Alden Ehrenreich, who played the most difficult task of changing the face of one of the most beloved characters of the Star Wars Universe. It is clear that Ehrenreich lacks the charisma – that total cynicism, romanticism and idolism – of the young Harrison Ford, but he does manage to keep his character afloat and even claim as his own, without the various issues wobbling around him.

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From the visual standpoint, the production designs by designer Neil Lamont, definitely look bright and engaging, especially the intergalactic landscapes. They are brilliantly captured by Cinematographer Bradford Young’s lens.

What further elevates the viewing experience is Composer John Powell’s amped-up orchestration that incorporate several iconic themes by John Williams, which includes a newer composition, “Han Solo Theme”.

Overall, the film manages to maintain the elements of nostalgia that it was presupposed to despite being a predictable fare.

(Troy Ribeiro can be reached at [email protected])

–IANS

troy/ksk

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