Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)


Writer, Nate Brigman

Nate Brigman


The second of Disney’s so-called “Star Wars Stories” after Rogue One, Solo, is a pretty average movie overall, with brief flashes of inspired filmmaking and intelligent interweaving of previous Star Wars canon. There are various problems that arose throughout, some unavoidable, but this is definitely not the worst Star Wars creation Disney has cooked up. 

As any prequel film depicting a character who’s original actor is much older than the chronology allows, this film struggles with casting a replacement for Han Solo. While Alden Ehrenreich tried to bring forward the swagger and cockiness required for the role, he was no Harrison Ford. Honestly that was an unavoidable issue, but still one that cannot be overlooked. Donald Glover, however, was an excellent recast of Billy Dee Williams’ character Lando Calrissian. One original character that stood out was the likeable thug Tobias Beckett, portrayed by Woody Harrelson.

Essentially the plot incorporates elements of sci-fi, western, and heist films. The central plot revolves around Han, Chewbacca, Tobias, Lando, and Han’s old girlfriend who he was forced to leave in the beginning of the movie, Qi’ra. They are assigned by the criminal organization Crimson Dawn to steal a large amount of raw hyperspace fuel from the planet Kessel. Most of the movie is your standard sci-fi fare, with the most notable thing to those invested in previous Star Wars canon being the changing of the Kessel Run to merely the transit to Kessel, instead of a massive multiplanetary smuggler’s run. They also changed the unit “parsec” from a measurement of time to the “real-world” measurement of distance to fit with their version of the Kessel Run. I’m disappointed with the latter change, since the only reason they did so was to bend to the desires of some physics major fans who had issue with the “inaccuracy” of a sci-fi franchise. 

Really, though, the only interest I personally had in the movie was the “surprise” reveal of the leader of Crimson Dawn at the end. Throughout the film the main representative of the criminal organization was Dryden Vos, though it is mentioned a couple times that he answers to a higher power. Well, through a chain of events that leads to Beckett turning traitor, Drydenbeing killed by Qi’ra, his chief lieutenant, and Solo setting off after Beckett, Qi’ra betrays Han after he leaves and places a holotransmission to the true mastermind of Crimson Dawn, the heavily tattooed Darth Maul. If one was attentive, there were several clues throughout that linked the organization to him, such as Dryden knowing teräs kasï, the fighting style Maul was a master of, among others. To the casual fan, however, it was a mystery as to how Maul was even alive. Maul’s first appearance was in the 1999 Star Wars film The Phantom Menace, where he was seemingly killed after he was cut in half by Obi-Wan Kenobi and fell down a reactor shaft following the greatest lightsaber duel in the entire set of movies. Maul’s survival is revealed in the animated show Star Wars: The Clone Wars. It was shown that Maul survived being cut in half by pure rage and dark side energy. He was transported to the trash planet Lotho Minor with the reactor waste, where he pieced together rudimentary legs from the scrap. The pure rage that sustained him fractured his mind, and he lived like an animal for over a decade before being found by his half-brother, Savage Opress. His mind was restored by a witch, Mother Talzin, and he began building a criminal empire. He eventually ruled over an entire planet, Mandalore, for a time, and his old Sith master (who had also thought him dead) perceived he had become too much of a threat. He was captured by the Sith Lord. Maul’s Clone Wars arc was cut short by the untimely cancellation, mid-season, of season six, leaving fans to speculate what had happened to him. To fully piece the puzzle together, one must turn to the comic series Son of Dathomir, which refers to the planet which Maul’s species is from. Maul is broken out of the Sith prison by Mandalorians (elite soldiers) still loyal to him. Maul still maintains the loyalties of a few crime syndicates, and from the ashes of his empire it is presumed that Crimson Dawn was formed. I’m impressed with the commitment to the integrity of the character that Solo kept. They used the original actor from The Phantom Menace, Ray Park, and the voice provided to the character was from Sam Witwer, the voice actor from the Clone Wars. 

Now, the ending of Solo left it very open to a Maul-heavy sequel; however, the film underperformed in the box office, so as of now there is no sequel in the works. 

Overall, this film was a bit ambitious and short-sighted at the same time, unfortunately. It is definitely worth a watch to those seeking to understand a bit more about Disney’s new canon, and to the casual Star Wars fan.