SAO shows Solo: a not-so Star Wars story

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You don’t have to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy this film. In fact, it’s more entertaining if you aren’t a junkie of the series. Sure, it still has the typical overwhelming score, a few pointless sub-plots and comes packaged in the space western tradition of A New Hope, but overall, this fun flick didn’t need to be a Star Wars movie; it just happened to be one.

The plot is straightforward: Han Solo, played by Alden Ehrenreich, lives on Corellia, a trashy, crime-ridden planet. He works as a thief for a giant worm, and wants to escape Corellia with his girlfriend Qi’ra, played by Emilia Clarke. He gets out and she doesn’t. Han finds heist work in order to buy a ship to rescue her. On his journey, he meets Chewie and many other new characters, while running into a few thrilling surprises.

Solo: A Star Wars Story makes sure to avoid many Star Wars tropes; in Solo, there are no lightsabers, large Nazi-like armies or Jedis. The story is strictly personal, hiding from the cosmic. And unlike Disney’s new episodic movies, in Solo, nearly every instance of Star Wars fan service relates to plot or theme. When Han gets his famous last name “Solo,” it’s not just Star Wars fan service; he thinks he lost his beloved girlfriend, Qi’ra. Yes, it’s how he got his name, but it’s more than that. Fan service is simply bonus — not the main attraction.

Sure, we’ve seen Han (and his pal, Chewie) before, but Ehrenreich makes the role fit himself. Relatively unknown, Ehrenreich had big shoes to fill, and this role deserved to be his big break. The entire world knew and loved the already-established character he stepped into. But he wasn’t afraid to rethink the heroic thief: less crabby than Harrison Ford’s original and just as edgy; clever and charming, but in his own way.

So, what exactly is Solo if it’s not the typical copy-and-paste Star Wars movie? It’s a space western, romance, heist film with interesting character dynamics and an intriguing plot full of backstabbing and surprises. With nuanced characters and one of the most exciting heists in recent cinema, we have a creative film with engaging characters that demand the screen.

Woody Harrelson’s Beckett is the most entrancing of these characters. Quite simple, as the ending reveals, but nevertheless a unique performance for a refreshing character — gritty but never fully stepping into the role of antagonist.

It’s worth noting that he may also serve as a lesson in how to write a flat character: he doesn’t change and that’s purposeful. Beckett doesn’t trust anyone, making him the real “solo” of the film — he alone makes Solo worth watching.

As a refreshing blockbuster, Solo is worth the watch.

SAO showed Solo: A Star Wars Story on Friday, Sept. 14. The next SAO movie will be Won’t You Be My Neighbor, a biopic about Mr. Rogers, on Sept. 22 at 8 p.m.