Han Solo is interesting as he carries an air of mystery that sets him apart. When Solo comes on screen in Star Wars: A New Hope and introduces himself we’re immediately interested in his background.
Future films developed the character further (played by Harrison Ford), but Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) is unique as it’s his backstory. In that vein, does it deliver? Perhaps not as much as I would like, but as entertainment, yes.
In Solo, the title character is younger than in the original films. Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!) plays the young Han Solo and immerses himself in the role. It’s hard to convince me, however, that he’s true to Solo, the character that Harrison Ford made recognizable. The young actor has a sense of the character at best.
Han Solo is described in Star Wars: A New Hope as a space smuggler. His activities contrast those of the central character Luke Skywalker and Luke’s guide Ben Kenobi. Han inadvertently gets involved in the protagonist’s journey for the rest of the films while keeping his distinct individuality.
There is this friendship between Han Solo and card player, gambler Lando Calrissian, originally developed by Billy Dee Williams in the original trilogy, and taken up by Donald Glover in this new film. In the new film, Han and Lando’s bond is not fully developed to convince me they would be great friends in The Empire Strikes Back, years later.
Although I wanted more bonding and depth to Han and Lando, this Star Wars origins story is a good momentary excursion. The film turns on cool charm, from recognizable throwbacks to the earlier films to Alden Ehrenreich’s suave smile.
All-together, it’s not bad entertainment, with one or two good action scenes, some stunning photography and visual effects.
The story goes that in a time of outlaws and criminals, Han is in the thick of it along with loyal lady friend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). After getting in a bit of trouble, Han winds up meeting Chewbacca, his loyal Wookie co-pilot in the first films, and stumbles on a job delivering goods to Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) who pays well. All turns pear shaped with very little Imperial entanglements.
After a few false starts, the good guy, Solo, is challenged to deliver the goods, which is in keeping with the Han Solo mythology. The film has even got a poignant moment that delivers for fans a heartfelt Star Wars scene.
There are a couple of uncharacteristic moments for a Star Wars film that are really embarrassing – can one imagine the real Lando Calrissian falling in love with a robot? Sometimes, these touches are what can make or break a film. For me, it didn’t matter that much since the unwelcome surprise is short-lived.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover. Writers: Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan. Based on characters created by George Lucas. Director: Ron Howard.