I doubt I was alone in having a bad feeling about this film. For starters (as a kid I know told me), it is hard seeing anyone but Harrison Ford in the role of Han Solo, one of the most popular characters the galaxy has offered us. Yet director Ron Howard’s Solo: A Star Wars Story does offer us places of the galaxy we have not seen before, plus some truly remarkable new visuals that make me just able to recommend it.
Alden Ehrenreich does what he can to play the young version of Han, who we learn tried to escape his home planet with his girl Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). He succeeds but she is left behind, leaving him to try to enlist in the Empire in order to get a ship to come back and save her. Years later, he meets up with Beckett (Woody Harrelson), who is working to get supplies back for Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). Thandie Newton stars as Beckett’s girl Val, and we also meet a young Lando Calrissian, played by Donald Glover.
Bettany does play a decent villain (yet in all Star Wars films, it is impossible to stack up to Vader). There is some nice chemistry between Ehrenreich and Clarke. Yet there are two casting choices that stand above the rest. It seems to make the best of sense to have someone like Harrellson as the guy who would take Han Solo under his wing, and show him the ropes. Still, the scene stealer is Glover’s Lando. It is truly like looking at a young Billy Dee Williams that it is almost scary.
The second half of the film is where the force is truly strong (though that word is never mentioned). The first half is by the books, not really anything fancy (save for that train scene, and the intro of Chewbacca). The ultimate part of the film is the segment on the mining planet (too hard to explain why the movie leads us there). The visuals of the second half of the film are nothing short of breathtaking.
Parents, if your kids have seen a Star Wars film, they would be ok with this one. It is PG-13, but a soft one.
There is one point in the second half, however, that I am afraid is the big blunder of the film. There is a quick cameo appearance from a character that, while unexpected, does not make sense in the Star Wars timeline. Nevertheless, I do admit to liking this film better than Rogue One.
Overall: Three Stars ***