If you’re a lifelong Star Wars fan like I am (Episode IV was the first movie I remember seeing in theaters at the tender age of eight), the new stand-alone film, Solo, offers a fun-filled glimpse into the beginnings of the much-beloved scoundrel, Han Solo. If you’re not, well, I hope you like heist movies.
Han (Alden Ehrenreich) gets his start like a young Oliver Twist stealing the goods of the universe, or at least his home planet of Corellia, for Fagin-like Lady Proxima (voiced by Linda Hunt). His dream is to fly and when his girlfriend and fellow thief, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), finds some coaxium, a highly valuable mineral, he bribes/sweet-talks them onto a transport off Corellia, but pursuing goons force him to leave Qi’ra behind.
Joining a rag-tag group of pilferers-for-hire, including Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and Val (Thandie Newton), Han wants only to earn enough money to get a ship and rescue Qi’ra from Corellia. When he does find her (in a very unexpected place) she’s teamed up with Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). He’s the kind of guy that makes you want to stay on his good side, reminiscent of Jabba the Hut. Make sure you deliver the goods or you’re in trouble - as Han finds out.
When coming to an origin story like this one, audiences have plenty of questions they hope will be answered like, “How does Han get the Falcon” and “How does he meet Lando and Chewie?” Don’t worry. Most of your questions will be addressed, even if they’re not always answered to satisfactorily. I wanted to see him make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll only say that some of my questions were answered.
Alden Ehrenreich (pronounced “air-ren-rike” if you want to know) turns in a satisfactory performance as the young Han Solo. He doesn’t try to do an impersonation of Harrison Ford’s Solo, but he does incorporate enough of his mannerisms that we recognize the character. The best part of the film, however, is Donald Glover’s portrayal of young Lando Calrissian. He’s a loveable con-man with a rather too much affection for his droid L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge). Even with his questionable morals, he’s a good guy to have by your side in a fight.
An enjoyable, almost-summer movie romp, “Solo” relies heavily on VFX and big explosions like a lot of summer fare. Compared to “Rogue One,” the previous outing for films tagged ‘A Star Wars Story,” this one walks on the much lighter side.
A good thing to remember that this movie shows: don’t judge a book by its cover. Or people by what's on the surface. Han’s chosen path leads him to become the smuggler with a charming sideways smile, but as we know from the original trilogy of Star Wars films, he’s got a heart that’s in the right place.