Ron Howard saves this film from the production troubles.
RATING: ★★★ (out of four stars)
Solo: A Star Wars Story has taken a long and arduous path to finally hitting the big screen. Between the original directors being fired two weeks before production was wrapped and Ron Howard stepping in to reshoot nearly 80% of the film, Solo has every reason to be dead on arrival. Despite all of this, Solo proves itself as one of the more fun Star Wars films. It is a confident origin story for one of the franchise’s most beloved characters, and opens up the galaxy to much more beyond the Empire.
Following the story of a young Han, audiences ventured through the beginnings of their favorite smuggler. The film picks up with Han on his home planet of Corellia, struggling to survive on the streets. Just before he came make his escape to greater things, he is separated from his Qi’ra (the love interest played by Emilia Clarke) and forced to join the Empire to keep from being imprisoned. During his tenure as a Stormtrooper, Han links up with a band of thieves. Han deserts the army, hoping that this one big heist will get him the ship he needs to get home and save the girl.
It shows just how competent of a director Ron Howard is with what he was able to with Solo. What easily could have been a fan service film to fill the gap between episodes eight and nine turned out to be a really fun heist film. Howard keeps the pacing tight while delivering some of the most exhilarating actions sequences of the franchise. Howard’s direction, coupled with the stunning cinematography of Bradford Young, make for one of the most visually appetizing chapters in the Star Wars universe.
The cast is impeccable here. Each actor holds their one in an intimidating role. Alden Ehrenreich wears the Han Solo character like he was born to play him. The rugged charm that fans loved so much when Han first made his debut in a new hope wafts of Ehrenreich with his first scene. Emilia Clarke finally lands the role outside of Game of Thrones that proves she possesses that chops to land meatier roles deserving of her talents. Donald Glover fits into the role of Lando Calrissian effortlessly. There is no discernable between his and Billy Dee William’s performance in the original trilogy. While some may pining for more screentime with Glover, he presents Lando in the manner he has always been in Star Wars.
There isn’t a lot to dislike about the film. Aside from Paul Bettany’s rather one note villain, the world of the film is air tight. The antics of Han and Chewy first meeting are some of the best scenes in the series. The best thing the film does is expand the Star Wars universe. As beloved as the franchise is, it has always been a story about the Skywalkers and the Empire. This is the first film to delve into something beyond that scope, dealing with the criminal world that has developed under the rule of the Empire. If these are the kinds of stories to be expected from the Star Wars films outside the main saga, then the franchise is better for it. Solo is a must see Star Wars Story for any fan of the franchise.