I've Got A Good Feeling About This
"You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon? It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs"
It's crazy to think we have a new Star Wars movie to enjoy when The Last Jedi was only just released in December but here we are with Solo: A Star Wars Story. The second anthology movie outwith the main saga following 2016's Rogue One, Solo is set prior to the events of A New Hope, and explores the early adventures of Han Solo and Chewbacca.
Directed by Ron Howard, who took over from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller who were reportedly fired due to "creative differences", Solo stars Alden Ehrenreich in the title role, alongside Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, and Paul Bettany.
As always, I've tried to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but if you don't want to know anything, then stop reading now and come back once you've seen the movie. Check out the trailer below:
We are quickly introduced to a young, street wise Han and his lover Qi'ra (Clarke) in the midst of a hussle on the shipbuilding world of Corellia. Whilst trying to escape Corellia to begin a new life together, Qi'ra is apprehended and Han vows to return for her one day. He escapes the planet by enlisting as a flight cadet in the Imperial Navy. Fast forward three years and Han is introduced to a group of bandits led by Beckett (Harrelson).
This sets Han on a path that sees him first encounter his long term allies Chewbacca & Lando Calrissian, set foot on the Millennium Falcon for the first time and we see the origins of the infamous "Kessel Run", first mentioned in A New Hope. Our group of misfit heroes come together to appease the ruthless crime lord Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) who has a longstanding history with Beckett.
The new cast for the most part, all take to their roles brilliantly - Alden Ehrenreich is perfect in the role of Han, and is entirely believable as a younger version of the character that Harrison Ford first brought to life; he has the look, the charm and the most importantly, the cocky arrogance. Emilia Clarke is perfectly fine as Qi'ra, I think she is at her best in the films final act - but I think there is something quite wooden about her performance for the most part. Woody Harrelson does his best Woody Harrelson as Beckett and is great in the role but for me the standout performances were Donald Glover as Lando, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as his robot first mate L3-37. I think everyone knew before seeing the film that Glover would knock it out the park as Lando, and he does - much like Ehrenreich does as Han, Glover has all the characteristics to play Lando just as Billy Dee Williams did. There's talk of potentially seeing more of Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, and I really hope we get to. Just as with K-2SO in Rogue One, there is a scene stealing droid that gets the majority of the movies laughs. L3-37 is Lando's first mate, and co-pilot of the falcon. Voiced by English actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge, L3-37 is at the centre of many of the films laugh out loud moments and proves yet again, that the droids are the heart of Star Wars movies.
Paul Bettany does an excellent job as the movies villain Dryden Vos. If you are going to cast an English actor to play a villain, then you cast Paul Bettany. He does such a good job of being both extremely charming, yet extremely terrifying at the same time. My only gripe is that he's such a massive, menacing screen presence but yet he doesn't get an awful lot of screen time.
As always with Star Wars movies, the score plays almost as big a part as any character and that is no exception here. John Powell is on hand here as the movies main composer, with long term Star Wars composer John Williams composing Han Solo's theme, (known as The Adventures of Han). There are call backs to older movies with versions of The Star Wars Main Theme and the Imperial March getting their chance to shine during some of the movies most thrilling moments. I'll forever marvel at the sight of the Falcon flying through space as the Star Wars fanfare plays.
The movies set piece moments all land as intended for me, and play out spectacularly on screen. The central heist of the movie, referred to as The Kessel Run works as both a standalone part of this movie, and also as a neat callback to A New Hope. Seeing the Falcon in it's original condition is also pretty cool. It is essentially a brand new ship in this movie, and looks rather different to how we're used to. However it is the train heist from earlier on in the movie (as referenced to in the trailer) that is the most impressive action sequence for me. It is an awesome sequence of events that looks awesome in the snowy setting. Han & Chewie's first meeting is also a fun little scene, although I was able to predict it happening before it actually played out on screen.
As with Rogue One, there isn't really too much moments of jeopardy in the movie, because we kind of already knew the outcome. We knew that Han, Chewie & Lando would all survive, we knew that Han would get his golden dice back from Qi'ra and we knew that the Falcon wouldn't get destroyed.
Overall, I really enjoyed Solo - it is fun filled ride of a movie, and whilst it may not be 100% necessary in the grand scheme of things, it serves as great introduction to Han Solo's backstory. Seeing some iconic moments play out on screen, left me with a major grin and I will never not get chills when I hear the Star Wars theme blasting out over the speakers. Finally, Solo is worth the admission fee for the cameo at the end alone - it will blow your mind, trust me.
Solo: A Star Wars Story gets 4 out of 5 from me