The beloved character Han Solo first burst onto cinema screens in the 1977 film “Star Wars”, and the character, as interpreted by Harrison Ford, became as iconic as the film series. Fans enjoyed the character through 3 films, and it was a long time before Harrison would appear as Solo, in the 2015 release “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, where the character made memorable appearances with the Wookie Chewbacca and Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher). The character of Solo is now front and center in his own film, “Solo: A Star Wars Story”, starring Alden Ehrenreich (“Hail, Caesar!”) as the young Solo.
The film is a stand-alone story and is set prior to the events of “Star Wars: A New Hope.” The film begins with the introduction of Solo and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke of “Game of Thrones”), as they attempt to escape the shipbuilding world of Corellia, where they, along with orphaned children are forced to steal for a local crime gang. The two plan an escape, but only one of the duo is able to make it off Coreilla. You can probably guess which one. To hasten his exit from Coreilla, Solo joins the Imperial Navy of the Empire, and while on a mission, runs across a couple of thieves, Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and Val Beckett (Thandie Newton), and attempts to convince them he wants to be part of their smuggling jobs. No sooner can you say betrayal, the Beckett’s turn against Solo and he is thrown into a pit where it is hoped he will be killed by…yes…the Wookie Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo). Instead of falling prey to the strong Wookie, Solo uses his charm and wits to convince Chewie the two can escape their imprisonment.
Of course they do, and eventually are able to catch up with the Becketts and join them on a mission to steal a shipment of coaxium, a very valuable hyper fuel. The Becketts are stealing the coaxium for the Crimson Dawn, led by the vicious crime lord Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany).
After years of trying to get back and rescue his love Qi’ra, finally crosses paths with her once more, but so to avoid spoilers, I will not say how or when. Let’s just say the two are able to team up again. In the film Solo meets Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover in the role originate by Billy Dee Williams) for the first time, and sparks fly between the two overly confident characters. So no aspect is left out of a true “Star Wars” story, we meet a hilarious and extremely smart droid named L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge), who is Lando’s companion and navigator. As expected, strange and exotic aliens abound, especially in a scenes where Solo and Lando gamble for possession of the Millennium Falcon. Speaking of the Millennium Falcon, I loved seeing Solo enter the famous ship and pilot it for the first time. Oh, yes, and there are Storm Troopers in the film, along with a surprise appearance from a character featured in “The Phantom Menace.” I really enjoyed how we are introduced to this characters in their younger years, and how they become the characters “Star Wars” fans know and love.
As for the actors, Ehrenriech had the big shoes of Harrison to fill, and he makes the role his own, and you can tell the actor studied Harrison thoroughly. Co-star Clarke, one of my favorite actors from “Game of Thrones”, is a welcome addition to the “Star Wars” universe, and her onscreen chemistry with Ehrenreich is strong. The interactions between Solo and Chewbacca are delightful, and the same holds true for those scenes with Lando and Solo. The film has all the breathtaking action we expect in a “Star Wars” film, and while epic in scale, still has an intimate feel. In my humble opinion, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is one of the best in the series, and “Star Wars” fans should delight in seeing the self-proclaimed scoundrel in a romp through that galaxy far, far away.
(Rated PG-13) 4 Stars (out of 4)