Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Review: Solo - A Star Wars Story (second-pass)

Solo: A Star Wars Story (second-pass / 2D / SPOILER-FREE)
Cert: 12A / 135 mins / Dir. Ron Howard / Trailer

Previous reviews: 1

As is so often the case, a second-pass of a new Star Wars film is what's needed to lend a little more clarity to the proceedings, especially when the pacing is as frenetic as Ron Howard's Solo. And once the story's larger events are comfortably filed away, the web of sub-plots can be more properly digested. And while I'll go into this further with my next review, Solo is a movie of sub-plots. Not so much one big idea, but lots of smaller ones. It's the cinematic equivalent of one of the Star Wars novels, full of supplementary information, yet still teasing that there's more to be uncovered.

And this itself is a task which could take quite some time, on a visual level at least. Solo is dense with 'stuff', from background characters to props and scenery. Nothing is there by accident, and much of it means more than just its superficial presence. But Arrival cinematographer Bradford Young has thrown an extra challenge into the mix, with many of the locales being absolutely thick with grime or dust, and anything other than the pleasure yacht and the film's final planet being presented in low-lighting conditions. Having first seen Solo in 3D, notorious for its light-loss, it was surprising to note that there's not actually too much difference once the glasses are off (although it is still clearer).

But what's more interesting is watching Howard's focus shifting gears from scene to scene. While it's not yet known how much of the final film was shot under the auspices of Lord and Miller, word on the street indicates that Ron's reshoots were 'extensive'. And yet, there's still a marked unevenness in tone throughout film, as Howard clearly has more enthusiasm for the film's action setpieces over the dialogue-driven scenes. But speaking of 'driven', it's the race-and-chase sequences where the director of F1 biopic Rush and 1977's Grand Theft Auto really shines. Flaring afterburners stand in for squealing tyres, and you can feel Howard's yearning for speed as a variety of vehicles show what they've got when a decent pilot is at the controls.

The majority of moviegoers would probably tell you they never want to see another cinematic pod-race as long as they live. I'm wondering why the hell we didn't get one in here.

But despite my tonal grumblings here, Solo is still an incredibly solid Star Wars film, and continues to intrigue and excite. But this will be the last time I can write about it without wading into spoiler-territory…

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
The Star Wars's.

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
Yes, all.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Time, and future Star Wars projects, will tell.

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
Y'know what, I'm starting to think there's not and that Matthew Wood's only gone and bloody done it..

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 0: It is Star Wars.

…but if you wanted to go round the houses with it, Solo stars Alden Ehrenreich, who was in 2016's Hail, Caesar! along with Clancy Brown, who has provided various bits of voicework on Phineas and Ferb, alongside one of the show's lead performers, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who appeared in 2011's Death of a Superhero with Andy Serkis, who starred in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, which also featured Ralph Ineson, who was in 2012's Great Expectations alongside Sally Hawkins, who rocked up in Blue Jasmine with... Alden Ehrenreich.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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