It’s been about half-a-year since the last “Star Wars” film hit theaters. Disney isn’t playing around when it comes to the franchise. They are churning these films out on a regular basis and audiences are showing up in droves for each one. “Solo: A Star Wars Story” does stand-apart from the rest. We are not new to prequels from A galaxy far, far away, but having such an iconic character like Han Solo have a film based on his early years was a risky move. I mean, how do you not compare any actor’s performance given to that of Harrison Ford’s? Another issue was all the behind the scenes trouble going on. Sure, we don’t know the whole story, but we do know the original directors were fired heavy into production and Ron Howard was brought in to save it.
With everything stacked against it, “Solo” turned out to be one of the most entertaining films in the franchise’s recent history. Although Alden Ehrenreich will never be Harrison Ford, he does make the role his own and managed to win me over.
Set about a decade before the events of “A New Hope”, we are given the chance to learn everything we didn’t really feel we needed to know about the charming smuggler’s past. Where did he grew up? Did he have a love before Leia? How did he meet Chewbacca? and How did his friendship with Lando begin? All-of-those questions are answered, including where the name “Solo” came from.
The story begins with Han (Ehrenreich) escaping the gritty planet he grew up on as an orphan, while forced to leave his girlfriend, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) behind. His only option at the time was joining the Galactic Empire, where he was given the chance to be a pilot. It didn’t take long for him to get bumped down to infantry. Due to Han’s natural ability in piss off authority, an unfortunate situation brings him into the presence of his future best friend, Chewbacca. Together the pair link up with a crew of smugglers, led by Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his partner/girlfriend Val (Thandie Newton).
Without giving away more of the story, we get to learn not only about Han, but that of Lando Calrissian, played wonderfully by Donald Glover. He is easily one of the best things about “Solo”. Unfortunately, the story’s villain, Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) isn’t quite as memorable. One thing that Ehrenreich pulls off so well is the banter with Chewbacca. This is extremely important because it sets the tone for their long-lasting friendship.
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is far from perfect but for big budget, sci-fi entertainment, it hits the mark. I can’t imagine fans of the “Star Wars” universe coming out of the theater disappointed. I mean, honestly, how high were most of our expectations anyways? Unlike “Rogue One”, “Solo” sets itself up for a continuation, so we could very well see a sequel, which I am more than fine with.
By: Marc Ferman