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MOVIE REVIEW: Less-than-epic Solo rides a fun but thin plot

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Vicky Sparks

When Han Solo burst onto the scene in 1977 he was immediately everyone’s cool uncle that shows up at holiday gatherings from time to time with expensive presents and stories of adventure.

Where was he between holidays? What did he do?

No one really knew and he didn’t volunteer the information – he was mysterious, dashing and you knew he was having way more fun than everyone else.

Embodied by Harrison Ford, Han Solo was part cowboy, part Casanova and all cocky swagger.

In Solo: A Star Wars story, Ford is replaced with Alden Ehrenreich – a young actor with an almost impossible task. Ehrenreich would be tortured by critics if he turned in a performance that mimicked Ford’s, and eviscerated should he make the character unrecognizable from the Solo we all know and love.

Choosing between a rock and a hard place, Ehrenreich has delivered a performance that looks and feels like Han Solo if you squint really hard and forgive his utter lack of cool.

It might be that Ehrenreich’s swagger was stolen by Donald Glover, who appears for the first time in the Star Wars universe as a young Lando Calrissian (originally played by Billy Dee Williams).

Glover does what Ehrenreich couldn’t in taking on a beloved character and makes it look easy. Calrissian bumps from supporting character to the most interesting part of the film.

From his suave, devilish charm and undeniable style to his complicated relationship with his droid L3 (played by the delightfully funny Phoebe Waller Bridge) who happens to be a feminist and droid’s rights activist (much funnier than it sounds) you want to know more about his every move.

I can guarantee Disney is putting together a standalone Lando Calrissian movie as we speak – Glover’s performance is simply too delicious not to fully exploit.

The film tries to fill in the gaps of Solo’s background with a fun but thin plot – Solo’s start in an Oliver Twist-esque orphanage, picking pockets for a giant worm overlord with his best girl Qi’ra (Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke aka the Mother of Dragons) which leads to heartbreak and a time jump forward three years.

There we find Solo ingratiating himself with a team of thieves led by Woody Harrelson and Thandie Newton and meeting his BFF Chewbacca.

A mission gone wrong leads to trying to make amends which leads to new danger and a pretty solid space battle.

I can’t say it’s not fun to see Han and Chewie meet for the first time, or watch Han try to win the Millenium Falcon in a card game or swing those lucky dice around – it is.

But mostly it offers nostalgia and cute winks at moments we fell in love with in much better films. Which is absolutely fine, but you’d miss nothing of the Star Wars universe going forward if you don’t see it.

If you’re looking for an excuse to eat movie popcorn Solo will satisfy. If you’re looking for another Star Wars epic though, you’re better off staying home, because what’s the point of giving someone a backstory if it’s so boring?


Vicky Sparks is a Bright’s Grove native and movie critic for Global TV’s The Morning Show, which airs nationally on Fridays. Her Journal Reviews cover movies playing at Galaxy Cinemas Sarnia


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