Ron Howard (director)
23 May 2018 (released)
27 May 2018
Solo: A Star Wars Story has noticeably failed to attract the same hype as its most recent predecessors, which may be because many are asking: 'Do we really need a movie about Han Solo?'
In short, not really, and in part, this is proved by the ill-conceived story writers Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan have come up with. They do, however, succeed in creating a bunch of strong, credible characters, which thanks to a talented ensemble cast, make the film energetic, nostalgic and full of fun.
Young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) has honed his piloting skills in the imperial fleet having escaped from his destitute and crime-ridden home in Corellia, when he meets and teams up with outcast thieves Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and Val (Thandie Newton) - and most importantly, Chewbacca (Joonas Viljami Suotamo).
After a robbery goes spectacularly wrong, the group find themselves at the mercy of crime boss Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), who's shacked up with Han's childhood sweetheart Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke), and wants what he's owed.
Luckily, Han talks the talk and negotiates a high-risk plan to get what Dryden wants, save all their skins, and hopefully win back his girl.
While some action sequences are exhilaratingly fast paced with disorientating camera work, much of the story drags. Missions keep coming, alliances are constantly changing, threats arrive in abundance and unlike Rogue One, this chapter adds nothing to the overall Star Wars story.
In spite of that, the characters alone make this a film worth checking out.
Clarke gets off to a shaky start but comes into her own when she is able to portray the tougher, more troubled elements of her character. Harrelson and Newton also deliver predictably strong performances (though Newton deserves far more than the material she's given), Bettany is wonderfully slick and ghastly, while the role of new droid L3-37 was totally made for Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge - though L3's relentlessly subversive and sassy persona will undoubtedly grate on many viewers.
Sadly, man of the moment Donald Glover doesn't quite stack up as Lando Calrissian. He never seems to relax into the role and his accent fluctuates between American cool and British pomp, which betrays a degree of self-consciousness.
Luckily, the same can't be said for leading man Ehrenreich, who breezily nails the charm, the cheek and even Solo's signature smug smile, while delivering the Kasdans' quality dialogue with freshness and ease.
He is a believable Han without delivering a Harrison Ford impersonation, and as a result, pivotal moments like his brilliant first meeting with Chewie and his first time seeing the Millennium Falcon hit the spot.
And Han and Chewie's bromance really is the gift that keeps on giving. Watching their friendship grow until Chewie takes up the all-important position as his best buddy's co-pilot is an absolute joy.
It's a shame that the brilliant character writing isn't reflected in the quality of the story, but aided by a strong supporting cast, Han and Chewie keep things light and lively. Seeing the beginnings of the most endearing friendship in the galaxy warms the heart and will surely delight Star Wars fans.