Film review: Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), directed by Ron Howard
tl;dr: It’s jolly good fun!
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away there is a planet called Corellia. It’s not a happy place, so you get out of there as soon as any opportunity to do so presents itself. Young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) live on the streets, stealing and trying to get by doing some shady work for Lady Proxima (voiced by Linda Hunt), hoping to gather enough money to get out of there. There is some trouble with a local gang (stealing their stuff tends to have that effect) and the couple try to escape but get separated.
Some years later Han (now with the surname Solo) has joined forces with a Wookiee called Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and end up in the crew of Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), leader of a band of criminals (e.g. Thandie Newton, and the voice of Jon Favreau).
A Space Western heist movie ensues! Can they steal a whole lot of very valuable coaxium for unsettling Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) before the rival gang led by Enfys Nest (Erin Kellyman) does it? How does Han win the Millennium Falcon from charismatic space playboy Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) anyway? And how exactly do you manage to do the Kessel run in less than 12 Parsec, when a Parsec is a measurement of distance and not speed?
I’ll try not to spoil things too much here, but the answer to the last question is “you take a shortcut”.
Much has been said about this film by a lot of people, but I thought it was jolly good fun. You get all the fun of a Space Western (o hai, Firefly) set in the Star Wars universe, and it’s a bit like a Star Wars roleplaying game adventure. There’s a snarky droid there and everything! (L3-37, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge.)
I get that it’s a bit too close in time after The Last Jedi (which I also enjoyed – I mean, c’mon, Porgs!) and sure, they could’ve released this in December instead to spread it out a bit more and avoid audience fatigue, but it’s still a fun film. It’s not super complicated; it’s one of those popcorn-munching films that you watch because sometimes all you really want is a crooked smile and a cocky attitude and droids with ray guns. After coming out of the cinema all I could think was “I want to re-watch the original trilogy now and have a whole new appreciation of Han Solo”!
Sure, Alden Ehrenreich doesn’t look that much like a young Harrison Ford, but you know what? I don’t care. At the moment, while they have set up a sequel quite nicely, it might not happen and that would be sad, because I would quite like to continue watching Han’s back story play out. Like, will Jabba the Hutt show up? What will Qi’ra do going forward? Will those dice actually be used for anything? Is there someone else Han can shoot first? (I mean … that was a nice shout-out to Harrison Ford-as-Indiana Jones as well, wasn’t it, really?)
It was fun, but then I like the Space Cowboy genre, and that it’s set in a cinematic universe I’ve enjoyed for such a long time is an added bonus.
4.8 out of 5 capes.