Han Solo, played here by the handsome Alden Ehrenreich, finally gets his own STAR WARS movie. The rascal that we all fell in love with back in the original STAR WARS in 1977, played forever by Harrison Ford, now has an opportunity to give us his intriguing back story in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY.
Han and his girlfriend, Qi'Ra (Emilia Clarke), live under the rule of Mother Proxima (voiced by Linda Hunt) on the planet of Corellia. Desperate to escape the tyrannical Proxima and the White Worm syndicate, Han steals a valuable item to pay for their transport. Just as they are departing, Qi'Ra is separated from Han and recaptured.
Han vows to return, but three years later finds him fighting on the "mud planet" of Mimban, where he meets Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his partner in crime, Val (Thandie Newton). Mimban is also noteworthy for another event --- it's where Han and "the beast", aka Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), the Wookiee adored by so many, first come into contact.
Beckett and Val have a major heist planned on Vandor. Stretched for manpower, they employ Han and Chewbacca. Things go awry and now Beckett must inform his "boss", Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), of their loss of cargo. Upon arrival on Dryden's Star Yacht, Han is totally surprised --- and thrilled --- to find Qi'Ra. Looking all grown up and sporting Dryden's logo as a tattoo, Qi'Ra is tasked with chaperoning Beckett, Han and Chewbacca in their efforts at a second robbery.
Han has always dreamed of becoming a pilot. And every pilot needs a starship. Han has heard rumors about a smooth dude named Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), who owns the Millennium Falcon, a YT-300f light freighter, one of the fastest starships around.
Han's first attempt at winning the Millennium Falcon in a card game fails, but on his second try, with Qi'Ra and Chewbacca standing by, he succeeds. With Lando and his co-pilot, L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), a self-made droid, along for the ride, Han and his crew are ready to save the day.
Screenwriters Jonathan Kasdan and his son, Lawrence, have packed an awful lot into SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY. And it's up to director Ron Howard to keep it all straight and coherent, which is a mighty task. There are a total of five planets and a plethora of environments to produce and film. Many of these were built across Pinewood Studios, and Fawley Power Station in the south of England, as well as two foreign locations in the Dolomites, a mountain range in northern Italy and Fuerteventura, the second largest of Spain's Canary Islands.
Director of photography Bradford Young, two time Academy Award-winning editor Pietro Scalia, special effects supervisor Dominic Tuohy and visual effects supervisor Rob Bredow, all had their work cut out for them. Their crews number in the thousands and the results speak volumes. SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY is a masterpiece in special and visual effects --- and especially editing.
But most importantly, the cast is terrific. Ehrenreich is SO young Han. His enthusiasm for the role is immediately obvious. He plays the cocky, charming, loveable Han Solo to the utmost. Honestly, I don't think the powers that be could have found anyone better.
Clarke is absolutely adorable --- then transforms into the perfect femme fatale. She is equally enthralled with the role making Qi'Ra a more-than-suitable match for the brash Han.
But, of course, as many will agree, it is Glover who brings Lando to life best of all. His suave presence on screen is undeniable --- and, oh, so much fun! Team that with Waller-Bridge and they have a truly winning combination.
And lastly, no one can forget how much Chewbacca has meant to this franchise. Seriously, he is the bomb! I love him best of all --- and here, from the beginning, he does not disappoint.
STAR WARS films will forever be entertaining --- they incorporate so many feelings --- and so much humor. SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY is no exception --- looking forward to the next.
Opinion: See It Now!
As a prequel to the STAR WARS saga, SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY is anchored by a strong, even heroic performance from Alden Ehrenreich as the young Han Solo. The 28-year-old actor manages to accomplish the near impossible --- do justice to the iconic character perfected by Harrison Ford.
Otherwise, SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY is pretty standard stuff if you're old enough to have seen the original STAR WARS like I did in 1977. In that groundbreaking film 41 years ago, much of what made the movie special --- visual effects, intergalactic space battles, creative creatures unlike anything seen before --- are basically duplicated here. So what appears to be rather ho-hum material to older moviegoers will continue to appeal to a new generation of STAR WARS lovers.
In SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY, the romance between Han and Qi'Ra (Emilia Clarke) is suitable; the card games between Han and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) are what you'd expect from a poker showdown, but you won't find the ace of spades --- or any other suit --- in this odd deck; and Chewbacca is played again by Finnish giant Joonas Suotamo. He showed off his 6'11" frame in star wars: the last jedi (2017) --- and he's equal to the character made famous by Peter Mayhew in a film from long, long ago. Woody Harrelson is less than memorable as the enigmatic Tobias Beckett (not his fault, as Jeanne always states, "it's the writing"). Is he a good guy or not? And Paul Bettany is at his best playing a villain, here he is Dryden Vos.
The only new wrinkle in SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY is a self-made droid called L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Lando's feminist co-pilot. She has the best lines and some really expressive body movements .
Fast forward to the closing credits. We often recommend that you sit through them in case there's a clue to the next movie, or some other revelation about the film you've just seen. But there is nothing of the kind at the end of SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY. However, it is worth sticking around --- as the thousands of crew names scroll --- to absorb more of the brilliant score, composed by Oscar nominee John Powell. He also adapted the original music by the incomparable John Williams.
Opinion: Mild See It Now!