With all the behind the scenes shenanigans it is wonder that Solo is not a total mess of a movie. Having seen the trailers I feared the worst for the film. They didn’t inspire any confidence and made it look a bit flat and uninviting. Thankfully the final product is miles away from the early footage and is in fact a fun adventure film that adds to the ever extending Star Wars universe.
The film traces the roots of Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) from low level street hustler to the lovable smuggler that originally appeared fully formed in A New Hope. here he is a courier for a crime gang on the planet of Corellia. After a deal goes south he attempts to flee the planet with his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). They get separated at the space port and Han is forced to join the imperial navy as a way of avoiding capture and death. Three years later Han finds himself on the battlefield and not as the space pilot he hoped, so he gets himself involved with a gang of thieves that are planning in stealing some precious cargo under the noses of the Empire.
At heart this is a Western themed adventure. There are good guys, bad guys and the girl who is the reason for the whole escapade. The success of the film hinges on the portrayal of Han. He is such a beloved character that it would be a tall order to even match the charm of the Harrison Ford version. Ehrenreich wisely keeps away from trying to copy the previous performance. This Han Solo is a work in progress. He is still a young man finding his way and has yet to achieve the full swagger of the beloved character. There are enough elements of the character for recognition value but is a slightly different take on Han. This is no bad thing to be honest.
The film is full of reference points to the lore of Solo. It is no secret that it introduces the back story to how Han teamed up with Chewbacca and his acquisition of the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). The fact that both of these meet ups feel natural is in part due to the chemistry between the actors involved. Chewie is such a beloved character with a unique personality that it would have been a real miss if they got it wrong. Donald Glover really captures the essence of Lando. A man of many capes, he oozes charm with a slight undercurrent of doubt. Glover is perfectly cast and clearly relishes the chance to have a significant role in a major movie.
The film flows nicely with the action sequences well choreographed allowing the audience to follow the characters and be in now doubt where everyone is at any given point. It has been reported that Ron Howard had to reshoot about 70% of the film when he was drafted in. You cannot see the joins at all as the flow of the story does not seem to be interrupted at all. It is clear that some of the more comedic elements have been toned down but it doesn’t really matter.
Solo is not a perfect movie, but there is more than enough there to please the majority of Star Wars fans.