Review of 'Solo: A Star Wars Story'

solo.jpg Solo is an origin story for one of Star Wars' most iconic characters starting with his youth on the industrial ship-building planet of Corellia. When Han (Alden Ehrenreich) obtains (steals) some hyperfuel coaxium he is determined to escape his life on the isolated planet with his girlfriend Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke). After bribing an imperial guard Han is separated from Qi'ra and ends up joining the Empire seeking to become a pilot. Years later Han is now an accomplished pilot but has been kicked out of the flight academy and made an infantryman. Unhappy at being shot at he joins a gang of thieves led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) in the hope of being able to return to Qi'ra on Corellia. When a coaxium heist goes wrong Han and Beckett are forced to explain themselves to Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), leader of a crime syndicate that Beckett had been intending to deliver the coaxium to. Barely escaping with their lives they are forced to seek out another source of the coaxium which unfortunately means a trip to the mining planet of Kessel…but they need a ship. Step in Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and a very polished, young looking Millennium Falcon…

A frenetic and fun movie for both fans and perhaps not so much for newcomers to the franchise (if they even exist). It does pay to be reasonably familiar with the original set of films otherwise some of the detail will be lost but even without this I would suggest you would still enjoy it. The action never lets up as we are whisked from one planet to the next with ever more amazing looking set pieces. Despite this the story remains clear and easy to follow throughout with the viewer never really knowing what will happen next - Yeah, we know Han will walk away, but how will he do that?

A trifle long at over two hours and the end somewhat drags a bit but these are minor quibbles. The story is engaging and well thought out. Howard's fun and dynamic direction serves to draw us into the film and engage with the characters. Ahrenreich brings the vitality of youth to the role of Han Solo yet still manages to capture the “loveable rogue” of Ford's older version. Harrelson plays a wonderfully cynical Tobias Beckett battered by years of experience which we always sense has something more to him than he lets on as he reluctantly takes Han under his wing. Glover as Lando is fun and engaging throughout as he also manages to successfully channel the older character played in the other films by Billy Dee Williams. Chewbacca comes on the scene initially as a creature used for torture but it is he that is the heart of the outfit struggling simply to find his family. As an ensemble they effectively play off of one another very convincingly. Bettany plays the utterly ruthless Dryden Vos who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

I am not sure why this film has not been a success in the box office. It could be viewer exhaustion following recent blockbusters (such as Infinity War), it could be apathy to “yet another Star Wars” movie or it could be a general feeling of “meh” about the whole thing. I am more willing to go with it and enjoy it for what it is: A lot of fun.

A lot of fun with a number of surprises with enough nods to fans of the series to keep them entertained. Sure there will be those that fault one detail or another but try not to do that – Just sit back and enjoy…

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2018-06-07

Directed by: Ron Howard

Studio: Lucasfilm

Year: 2018

Length: 135 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction

Other reviewed films by Ron Howard: