After the rather dark Last Jedi, Solo: A Star Wars Story manages to be an exciting, thrilling and. most importantly fun, diversion from the ongoing Skywalker Saga.
The film follows a young Han Solo ( Alden Ehrenreich) on his earliest adventures and details how the galaxy’s scruffiest nerf herder met Chewbacca, won the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and learned the tricks of the scoundrel trade.
Along the way, he teams up with Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his wife Val (Thandie Newton) as they attempt a dangerous heist for the psychotic Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) and his gang Crimson Dawn.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is a seriously fun and exciting adventure that succeeds, despite is notoriously troubled production, and while it fails to bring much new to the Star Wars universe that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
What do I mean by that? Well, Solo is for lack of a better word the most ‘Star Warsy’ a Star Wars film I’ve seen since The Force Awakens.
The whole thing feels like a love letter to the fans, and while I admired Last Jedi and Rogue One for having the stones to be different, it is oddly comforting to slip into the warm bath of Star Wars nostalgia every now and again.
Blatant nostalgic pandering isn’t the reason I liked the film though, I like this film because it’s a genuinely exciting adventure that takes perfect advantage of the Star Wars galaxy while telling a coherent simple story in the vein of a 1940’s serial.
Alden Ehrenreich is impressive as a young Han Solo and he nails Harrison Ford’s body language while bringing a vulnerability to the cocksure smuggler that we’ve never seen before.
I’ll admit to being sceptical when I first heard the casting but I’ll hold my hands up and say he’s a more than worthy successor to the Solo mantle.
The rest of cast is equally impressive, even if Donald Glover is doing a strange Billy Dee Williams impression early on, but particular mention must be given to Phoebe Waller-Bride’s L3-37.
In a word, L3 is fantastic, like a weird mixture of C3-PO and Magneto. I could happily watch the robot freedom fighter all day and I pray that if Lucasfilm goes ahead with a Lando spin-off they bring her back.
It’s also interesting seeing the dark and grimy criminal underbelly of the Star Wars universe although I’m starting to get slightly bored of seeing only Imperial palaces, rebel bases and gangster hideouts. Seriously what do normal people do in this .galaxy?
Unfortunately, there’s a cloud hanging over the whole of Solo, it’s entirely unnecessary and fails to bring anything new to the Star Wars galaxy or indeed the legendary smuggler.
I think the first and biggest problem is that we know Han’s ultimate fate and the journey he’ll go on, therefore, Alden’s version of the character is trapped in this weird narrative carbonite through the film.
Secondly, and I think this is something most Star Wars fans can agree on, Han Solo didn’t need an origin story. We knew everything we needed to about the character as soon as we met him in Mos Eisley.
By filling in the details about his backstory, and showing him as a vulnerable young adult, you demystify the character and this in turn retroactively reduces who he is in the original trilogy.
Despite this, I’d challenge anyone watching Solo not to get swept up in the excitement of the adventure and while you may know where the intrepid smuggler’s heading it’s still fun going along for the ride.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is in cinemas now!