A Star Wars Story
The latest addition to the “Star Wars” saga is really a
prequel. It tells the story of
Han Solo, and how he grew up rough, and became a bandit in a world that
was dark and chaotic and dangerous.
But somehow through it all he maintains his rogue-ish, cavalier
air, and develops a resiliency and self-reliance that will serve him well
in a cynical and sinister age.
What we like about him at first is his brash self-assurance, and
how he is utterly confident in his own abilities.
He's also quick toimprovise and somewhat impulsive and at least at
first, a hopeless romantic. It
seems he has a crush on an amazing young woman, Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke),
who's also got a taste for living on the edge, and together they plan to
escape their miserable surroundings and make a bright future together.
But circumstances intervene, they get separated, and take different
paths. Han meets up with a
little bandito gang headed up by Becket (Woody Harrelson), who warns Han
not to trust anybody, or get attached to anyone.
Of course Becket doesn't heed his own advice.
He's attached to Val (Thandie Newton), his partner in crime, and
they reluctantly add Han to their crew, along with his newfound friend
Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), whom he met in a wrestling pit.
What feels different about this particular Star Wars episode is
that we don't hear anything about The Force.
There are no Jedi, or even anybody training to be one.
There's not officially any Dark Side, either, but there's enough
hint about where we're headed with its development.
Presumably, the next time, the Universe will somehow arrange a
positive Force to equal whatever Dark Side arises.
In the meantime, here we hear only faint echoes of the familiar
theme music. We aren't even
introduced by the famous scrolling prologue, rather, the brief forward is
strictly a linear prose. But
there are plenty of other familiar characteristics, such as alternating
between intense personal drama and then soaring into hyperspace into
unchartered galaxies. There
are creatures who resemble humans, droids with human voices, and predators
who bear no resemblance to anything in our natural world.
But the real reason this episode works is because Alden Ehrenreich
is perfectly cast as the young Han Solo.
He's charming enough to talk his way out of some trouble, but
resourceful enough to anticipate the difficulty to be avoided.
He's handsome enough to attract the ladies, but he's too
independent to settle down with anybody.
He's persistent and perceptive, and beneath the wise-cracking,
superficial exterior is somebody who cares more about the underdog than
he's willing to admit. Ehrenreich
is able to convince us of all of these traits, while exhibiting a
physicality to rival the old James Bond adventures.
So, we now have a much more fully developed Han Solo character,
which is appealing, though somehow we've lost some of the whimsy of a
C3PO. We don't have the strong
inner conflict of an Anakin Skywalker.
And we're missing some of the magic of the a young Jedi just
learning the mystical ways of The Force.
It's more like a Western in space, where we're rooting for Billy
the Kid, but at the end, we're not comforted by any sense of a moral
compass. It's intriguing, it's
stylish, it's even swashbuckling, but it lacks soul.