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‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ film review: Fans can assemble in orderly fashion. The rest can fly away

Ron Howard directs the origins story of Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford in the original films and Alden Ehrenreich in the latest film.

If you are the kind of obsessive Star Wars fan who wants to know how Han Solo got his name, or how he teamed up with Chewbacca and got the Millennium Falcon, or even more obscure lore such as how he “made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs”, then Solo: A Star Wars Story is the perfect film for you.

Taking its cues from the superhero origin story, Solo goes to great lengths to do fan service over its two-hour plus running time. For the rest, this Ron Howard-directed Star Wars prequel is a by-the-numbers entry in the franchise and easily the weakest film in the rebooted series.

The opening moments locate the action on Han Solo’s home planet. Before he was an intergalactic outlaw who was never at a loss for guns or words, Han Solo was trying to escape the hellscape of his surroundings with his girlfriend Qi’Ra (Emilia Clarke) for a better future. Han is able to make the getaway while Qi’Ra is apprehended at the last moment. Without the love of his life by his side, Han is momentarily adrift but quickly bands together with full-time thief and part-time mentor Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his crew and a wookie named Chewbacca. Han has a singular mission in his mind, to earn enough money to get a ship so he can return to save Qi’Ra.

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Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018).

The outlaws run into big bad Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), who is a Darth Vader surrogate and has overseen the killings of thousands of people for money and power. The crew members are forced to pull a job for Vos, for which they recruit charismatic smuggler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), a man with a penchant for capes and gambling and who can be convinced to do anything as long as there is a big pile of money on the table.

The banter between these characters is the saving grace. The production’s smartest decision is the casting. Even though the screenplay, by Lawrence Kasdan and Jonathan Kasdan, never truly etches out the characters or features dialogue that is weaker when compared to other films of this nature, reliable actors such as Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover, Paul Bettany and Emilia Clark remain eminently watchable. Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge has a hilarious cameo as the voice of L3, Lando Calrissian’s robot partner, who fights for equal rights.

Star Wars movies often get by on flashy visuals and exciting action scenes. Although Ron Howard does a good job of focusing on single characters during action scenes so one can tell what is going on, Arrival cinematographer Bradford Young makes the proceedings a dull and dreary affair with a dark and dim lighting technique that never matches the story that is happening on the screen.

Like Rogue One (2016), Solo is a standalone entry set in the time period between the original and the prequel trilogy. Consequently, even those with only a passing knowledge of the films will know how the characters end up, or the eventual fate of Han and Qi’Ra’s relationship.

Han Solo’s peculiar mishmash of Western tropes made him perfect for Harrison Ford in George Lucas’s films from the 1970s and ’80s, and his rugged, ultra-masculine persona. Alden Eldenreich never quite manages to differentiate his performance from the one that came before it, delivering an act that ends up resembling an impression of Ford’s. Much like the film of which he is a part, which never lets the characters enjoy a real moment and ends up as little more than a simulacrum of what a movie is supposed to be.

Donald Glover in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Image credit: Lucasfilm.
Donald Glover in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Image credit: Lucasfilm.
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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

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Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.