Jan 19, 2019
We’re back with another Netflix Original, which was only slightly better than my review for “The Last Laugh” (Episode #382). I’ll let you know why in a minute, but if you’re looking for a few other Netflix Originals for your weekend, check out the incredible Godzilla animated trilogy (Episodes #340, #341, and #377), “And Breathe Normally” (Episode #373), and “A Twelve-Year Night” (Episode #365). You can check out our full list of reviews at our website using the Netflix Originals blog tag. Oh, and just for clarification, this isn’t the Star Wars film about Han Solo, but you can also check out our review for “Solo: A Star Wars Story” (Episode #148).
By the way, I was recently invited to do a little segment with our friends at the Movie Geek & Proud Podcast. Check out their latest show, Episode #037, where they discuss the campy classic “Rat Race”, and have our own Ryan L. Terry as part of the discussion. Here’s a quick promo for their show!
Today’s movie is “Solo” (2018), the Netflix Original Spanish film directed by Hugo Stuven and written for the screen in collaboration with Santiago Lallana. The film is based on the true story of Álvaro Vizcaíno (Alain Hernández), who rushes off from a beach party after being rejected by a former girlfriend named Ona (Aura Garrido). While on the way to a hidden beach, he tumbles off a sandy cliff, breaking multiple bones, and struggles to survive alone.
The Netflix Original Spanish film selections continue to intrigue me. I’ve been extremely moved by quite a few films, especially “Sunday’s Illness” (Episode #171), “The Laws of Thermodynamics” (Episode #244), and most recently in collaboration with a few South American countries, particularly Uruguay, “A Twelve-Year Night” (Episode #365). On the whole, they’ve been anywhere from fair to incredible, which means their acquisitions department is doing well. If you haven’t been following the scene, I highly recommend you do, even if today’s entry is on the fairer side of their content.
“Solo” is a well told redemption story about a less than appealing subject, a wealthy surfer named Álvaro Vizcaíno, who appears to have been a selfish asshole prior to his traumatic experience. He’s not a very likeable character, bordering on narcissistic, which is not helped by making a film about how he overcame self-imposed difficulty. I don’t mean to make light of his situation, because I can’t even imagine what I would have done in the same circumstances, but I also have trouble relating to the character. However, for a film about character growth, there doesn’t seem to be much of it, no matter how directly the dialogue talks about that growth. We hear a lot about how and why he’s grown, but we rarely see that growth in the character. I’m at a loss to know whether that’s actually Vizcaíno, or his portrayal by Alain Hernández, though.
My issues relating to the character aside, the film does have some strong moments, especially for the lone survival thriller genre. I really appreciated the slight misdirection in the first third of the film, which helps amplify the tension for a story where we know the main character survives. The Canary Islands are well used, despite the limited locations, with some truly great drone shots. I also found the underwater and water surface camera work to be mesmerizing, especially in the crystal-clear blue water. However, there are also too many scenes of Álvaro crawling around on the sand and struggling to swim, and that’s because most of the trauma occurs internally, a tough thing to translate to the screen. And when we’re walked through the final few scenes, from his rescue to his recovery, I felt like there just wasn’t enough story for a feature-length film, at least not the way it was told.
“Solo” (2018) is a lone survival thriller about the two day trauma of Álvaro Vizcaíno. The film has some great camera work in a beautiful location, but also struggles to fill the time with a mostly internally-driven story. Fans of survival thrillers, or surfing fans, should definitely check out this film, although it may not affect everyone the same way. It sure didn’t for me.
Rotten Tomatoes: 71%
One Movie Punch: 6.2/10
“Solo” (2018) is rated TV-MA and is currently streaming on Netflix.