“Star Wars” is not too great flying Solo

Not the strongest “Star Wars” story

“Solo” is Disney’s fourth attempt at rebooting the “Star Wars” franchise for a new generation. Released in the summer of 2018 on the coattails of the mixed reactions to “The Last Jedi, Solo: A Star Wars Story” hit a low at the box office and had a considerably poor reception from fans and critics alike. Whereas the episodic films and “Rogue One” told original stories and earned a reason for their existence, “Solo” felt like an attempt to milk the franchise with a backstory of a pre-established character that nobody was asking for. For me, it was the fall of the current “Star Wars” legacy.

While fans are divided on “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” it is not difficult to see why many fans of the franchise dislike the film. I personally found the film to be a mess of boring visuals and needlessly complex story elements that lead virtually nowhere. It lacks the incredible world-building and colorful characters that the franchise holds so dear. Ranging from a compassionate smuggler to a flying spider-monkey, each character is given only one distinctive trait and nothing more to make them interesting in the slightest.

The planets of Corellia, Moraband and Exodeen, all of which I had to look up for this review, are completely unmemorable and serve no purpose to the actual story. The worlds are not integrated into the plot which gives the audience no real connection to them.

The film itself is drab and horribly lit. Most sequences are difficult to make out, which makes the action and the drama considerably less captivating. Cinematographer Bradford Young used natural lighting to capture many of the scenes, which leaves the shots far too muddled and grungy to the viewer. Despite director Ron Howard’s decision to take a more gritty approach, it comes off hollow and leaves little impact. With a far more colorful and bombastic approach to both his story and the visuals, Ron Howard definitely could have left a larger stamp on the franchise as opposed to the generic heist film in space.

The “Star Wars” franchise prides itself on a wide range of majestic planets that feel real and expansive. The varying languages, the large variety of species and intricate workings of the worlds always made it feel lived in, as if the planet existed far before being shown on the big screen. Here, far too many planets have the same visual style which makes the juxtaposition between worlds far less exciting and much less interesting to explore. At a point, almost every planet uses the same fog effects and hard brown lighting that it becomes hard to tell them apart.

“Solo[’s]” biggest misstep is the poor development of characters. “Star Wars” is a franchise built on captivating and larger-than-life characters that help guide the audience through the simple stories. Blowing up the big battle station is a plot that we have seen a billion other movies, but when infused with the banter between Luke, Leia and Han Solo, we become more invested in their characters and what they are doing in the story.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” attempts to use the “Star Wars” formula backward with little success, having a story that is far too complex and characters that come across very bland and one-dimensional. Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra comes off as another forgettable love interest and Woody Harrelson as Beckett is your typical backstabbing mentor. The characters play on tropes rather than actually presenting themselves with any real layers or personality. Though some may argue that Alden Ehrenreigh was good in the film, he fails to bring the same charisma as Harrison Ford in the famous role of Han Solo. The rest of the cast is not developed nearly enough to create the same witty banter and clever scenarios of that of the original “Star Wars.”

Many arguments for the film advocate that the film is a fun throwaway adventure in the “Star Wars” universe, but for how poor the direction and the craft is, this does not leave much of an impression. Even if you may view it as a fun ride, “Star Wars” should be more than that. These highly anticipated movies influenced a lot of lives over the years and inspired countless storytellers and film-makers. This is evident in the $2 billion dollar gross of “The Force Awakens” that saw the return of the franchise four years earlier. The fans deserved quality over quantity in their “Star Wars” films and “Solo: A Star Wars Story” definitely does not follow that maxim.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story,” unfortunately, fails to capture the spirit of the franchise and to take audiences to a galaxy far far away. The force is not strong with this entry in the saga.