During an adventure into a dark criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future co-pilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.
Just a few months after Last Jedi, we’re already seeing a new Star Wars film with Solo: A Star Wars Story in cinemas from 24th May. Solo has received plenty of coverage during its apparent troubled production, with directors being replaced late into filming, rumours of acting coaching for the lead, and of course the dreaded concept of reshoots.
So, how does Solo fair with all this going on around it? The answer is very well. Series veteran Lawrence Kasdan along with son Jonathan Kasdan share writing duties on the film, with director Ron Howard the replacement for Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who are both credited as Executive Producers.
The Kasdan’s have delivered an ambitious story, seeking to cover significant stretches of Han Solo’s life, from his early beginnings on Corellia through to his foray into life as a scoundrel. The film required a delicate balance in Han’s arc where his character could evolve to a point, but without treading on the toes of Star Wars: A New Hope, due to the significant development the character undergoes in that episode.
Solo: A Star Wars story clearly has this in mind, and while in one sense it hold his arc back a bit, in another sense it seamlessly fits into the wider continuity, while still laying the foundations for where the character goes.
With only limited screen time to cover the early segments of his life, the Kasdan’s still manage to make effective use of these scenes, while still crafting the main story in a fashion which avoids it feeling rushed or abridged. It’s also nice to see enough fan service included to give Star Wars devotees some nostalgia hits, and subtle references, without it getting in the way of the film or seeming overly contrived. There also one genuinely big surprise that I doubt most star wars fans will see coming!
So without developing the character too much, the film tends to focus on scoundrel life, as well as how Han became the character we meet at the beginning of a New Hope, the Falcon is obviously a key part of that, along with his trusty DL-44 blaster pistol, and his companion Chewbacca.
With the main focus on Solo there isn’t a huge amount of screen time dedicated to the remaining cast, Lando is brilliantly portrayed by Donald Glover and shines in every scene he’s in, Woody Harrelson makes a convincing Beckett as the mentor for Solo, and Paul Bettany is villainous enough but has very little to do.
Other than Han, Qi’ra played by Emilia Clarke is the most deserving of screen time in the film, her arc is both significant, and interesting but was also in need of a little more time and attention to effectively develop her in the film, it still plays well but certainly could have been explored further.
Beyond these there are a handful of throwaway characters which are little more than some mannerisms and attitude and leave little impact on the film, in this regard the film might have been better serviced making more with less.
None of this matters however if Alden Ehrenreich doesn’t work as Solo, thankfully however he works very well. His performance is a bit of a combination of some Harrison Ford impersonation, and Ehrenreich’s own take on the character and it all blends giving this younger but no less cocky take on the character. This is definitely the Han we know, with all the charm and swagger, just a little earlier than when we first met him.
Solo mixes up its story and action consistently throughout the film, it struggles to match the train heist which occurs early, leaving the final act a little outdone. Overall however there’s a nice mix of action set pieces taking place both planet side and in space which is a nice contrast.
Overall Solo: A Star Wars story sits nicely as a stand-alone tale, it isn’t intimately linked to another episode the way Rogue One is, nor is it one part of a trilogy with a sequel already on the way. This is simply a fun adventure film, set in a familiar galaxy about one of the most beloved cinematic characters of all time.
I’m giving Solo: A Star Wars story 7.5 out of 10.