The main Star Wars “episodes” are usually a safe bet. Some may be worse than the others (here’s looking at you The Phantom Menace), some are polarizing (The Last Jedi), but typically you know exactly what you’re going to get with these movies. The films under the A Star Wars Story branding, however, still have something to prove, and if Solo: A Star Wars Story is any indication, then they’re well on their way to doing so.
Solo immediately starts off on the right foot. Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and his best friend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) live on the streets of Corellia, trying desperately to find a way out. Their opportunity arrives after joining forces with Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), a career criminal who is assembling a crew to steal a rare substance known as coaxium for crime boss Dryden Voss (Paul Bettany). This crew, which comes to include Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), his droid companion L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), and a Wookie by the name of Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), embarks upon a mission that will forever change Han, bringing him ever closer to becoming the smuggler we all know and love.
If the story sounds a little busy, that’s because screenwriters Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan have jam-packed this movie with everything a Star Wars fan OR a casual movie-goer could want. The at-all-times sharp screenplay essential functions as a space western and a crime film, with a lot of time spent developing the underworld of the Star Wars saga. This gives this film a flavor completely different from, yet still compatible with the rest of the series.
This film has many plot developments, twists even, that work because the Kasdans clearly put a lot of effort into fleshing out all the characters. This effort pays off due one of the film’s greatest assets: its cast.
Flat out, Alden Ehrenreich could carry Solo on his shoulders. The second he shows up, any doubt that he was right for the role evaporates. Ehrenreich gives a performance that has the confidence of Harrison Ford mixed with a newfound sense of optimism and adventure. Donald Glover’s Lando, Harrelson’s Beckett, and Joonas Suotama’s Chewie are predictably great while Waller-Bridge’s L3-37 and Bettany’s Dryden Voss provide welcome comic relief and over-the-top villainy, respectively.
A huge surprise in the cast in Emilia Clarke, whose Qi’ra is a mixture of strength and sensitivity. For reasons that are best left unexplained, her character is a lot more complex than we’re usually used to seeing in these types of movies.
More surprising about Solo is the direction of Ron Howard. After the much-publicized firing of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, it’s a shock that not only is his work cohesive, but incredibly stylish. Even the small moments are directed with a sense of character, and once the action kicks in, it only increases.
Cinematographer Bradford Young beautifully shoots some of the best action Star Wars has even seen. A heist on a train on a snowy planet, a chase through Corellia, and, of course, the Kessel Run practically leap off the screen. If nothing else, the set-pieces in the film deserve praise.
The film ends on a note that’s both satisfying to fans and opens up possibilities for a future film, and if they’re of this quality, count me in!
Solo: A Star Wars Story is a fresh, FUN entry into the Star Wars series that you shouldn’t miss. 9/10 –James Preston Poole
Solo: A Star Wars Story hits theaters May 25th!
Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in Solo: A Star Wars Story, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes.