Solo, just “A” Star Wars Story in a diluting pantheon, arrives light siphoned and suffocated in sable. Its familiar faces, Solo, Lando, Chewie, choked in mesh stockings on a good day, are lucky for a hot ping off a flying motorcade. Amber glints camoring from its shiny Star Wars surfaces imply the notion of a keylight, as Solo’s many lavish, expensive, or expensively slummy looking criminal underbellies are coveted by the film's only luminance.
Cinematographer Bradford Young, who stormed into the narrative feature scene with the white-people-spinning-around-outside-contemplating indie Aint Them Bodies Saints, neglects his Solo characters of light as he often tends to. He illuminates his million dollar Star Wars sets but lets their minglers meld into the shadows. Light is drained from these petty-crime corners of the galaxy and, in effect, the universe is sexier than it’s ever been.
Really, Solo is it’s D.P’s film more than it is the signed off 21 Jump Street directors Phil Lord & Christopher Miller and their replacement Ron Howard. If there was a Jump Street flavored laugh riot shot sometime in Lord & Miller’s months with the film, they’ve been lost at the cutoff of Young’s fiercely underexposed photography and the crowded cutting room floor. The film is never funny. But were laughs really ever meant to sift out the other end of this ink, smog, and haze? A nostalgic chuckle might.
Chewbacca clobbers into the frame as an effigy of horror, strewn in mud and chain, enslaved and unfed under tanning bed shades of a Mimban blue moon — or two — and we’re meant to laugh. We can hardly see Alden’s face relaying his best Ford contortions to Chewie through the dark, so Young’s caliginous insistence renders Solo’s comedy, already dead on paper, moot. And it does nothing to assuage characters who’re kept so busy with mission objectives and technical claptrap (even the actors vocalizing them only vaguely understand) that they hardly say anything at all.
But industry-best special effects and mood lighting will do. A Star Wars style poker game sees two young smugglers hunkering over space goodies at the elbows of alien outlaws — an overhead lamp igniting the wager at a radius that doesn’t succeed the shoulders. Meanwhile, those who benefit most from the criminal swashbuckling of our admirable scum, amble in buoyant garb around a golden bar rimming the top of a flying skyscraper. Solo feeds you a smorgasbord of dingy, interior, appetizer-sized entrees and lets the light show spin its axis — but couldn’t it be more?
Disney’s Star Wars “stories” will materialize on screen ‘til the mysteries of the galaxy, once so far far away, will be too close to have to be imagined. Where did Han source his blaster? How did he buddy up with Chewie? And how did they come into piloting the Millenium Falcon? Solo provides all of the answers.
You'll probably prefer your own.