I’ll throw my hands up and say that I didn’t think Solo: A Star Wars Story was a good idea. The way I looked at it, who wanted to see a Han Solo movie without Harrison Ford? Add some production squabbles and reshoots and it seemed like everyone had a bad feeling about Solo. BUT – it managed to beat the odds and Ron Howard has delivered a rip-roaring adventure which feels very much like a Star Wars film – in fact – it feels like it was directed by franchise godfather, George Lucas. If anyone had the experience to ape Lucas’ style then it’s Howard, who was worked with the Jedi master on American Graffiti and Willow.
Alden Ehrenreich acquits himself rather well as young Han Solo. He’s no Harrison Ford, but we all knew that he’d never fully manage to fill Ford’s boots. He tries and succeeds in delivering that cocky Solo swagger – and he has the trademark Ford finger-point down pat. What more could you want when you’re getting the answers to your questions about everyone’s favourite Corellian pilot?
Donald Glover offers charisma as intergalactic scoundrel Lando Calrissian. Lando’s a gambler and a conman, but more importantly the owner of the Millennium Falcon. It’s love at first sight for Han and the Falcon and we get to see him make the infamous Kessel Run in 12 parsecs and how he meets first-mate Wookie, Chewbacca. Throw-in Woody Harrelson as Solo’s mentor and a few cameos and you have a fun night out in a galaxy far, far away. Solo: A Star Wars Story isn’t flawless – Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37 is a serious pain in the hyperdrive and Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra is decidedly one-note but these issues aren’t enough to derail this scf-fi-western blend. Speaking of derailing, the film’s first act climaxes in an exciting train heist, which might just be Solo‘s stand-out sequence.
More entertaining than Rogue One and more balanced than The Last Jedi, Solo manages to feel like a Star Wars movie despite the lack of Jedis, The Force and anyone called Skywalker. The special effects are impressive and John Powell delivers a score which is up there with franchise favourite John Williams (who supplies a Han Solo theme).
Solo: A Star Wars Story isn’t a ground-breaking piece of cinema (or even a ground-breaking Star Wars movie). Yes, it leans heavily on nostalgia and over 40 years of Star Wars story-telling but there’s a vibrancy to the action on-screen and it never feels like a retread. Lawrence and Johnathan Kasdan’s script hits the right beats, which all point to how Han Solo ended up in a certain cantina in Tatooine all those years ago.