‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ is a Total Blast [Review]
The origin of legendary galactic smuggler Han Solo is revealed in Disney and Lucasfilm’s highly entertaining new prequel Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Alden Ehrenreich has the unenviable task of stepping into Harrison Ford’s boots and jacket as a younger, dare I say more innocent, version of Han Solo, who we meet already on the run from the law and dreaming of escaping the Republic/Empire-occupied planet of Corellia. Witnessing the beginning of one the most iconic characters ever put on film is both enthralling and undeniably fun, as Ehrenreich manages to show off multiple sides, including some deeply hidden insecurities, to this all too well known nerf herder.
Han soon enough meets his future best pal Chewbacca, who gets the coolest character introduction in the film. The lovable furry giant is played once again by Joonas Suotamo, making his third appearance in the role of Chewie, following The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
Woody Harrelson is introduced as the gun slinging outlaw Tobias Beckett, who sort of serves as Han’s Obi-Wan Kenobi-type mentor, after he recruits the brash young wannabe-pilot into his crew of thieves to help pull off a daring upcoming heist. The always great Thandie Newton is off her Westworld loop as Beckett’s afro-sporting badass love interest and partner Val.
Donald Glover (also known in the music world as Childish Gambino) is scene-stealing perfection as a young Lando Calrissian, already the smoothest gambler in the galaxy, and the owner of a pretty rad cargo ship called The Millennium Falcon.
Speaking of scene stealers, Game of Thrones‘ own Mother of Dragons, Emilia Clarke plays Qi’ra, Han’s first love interest. He plans to runaway from their home planet with her to find adventure and romance among the stars, but things don’t go exactly as planned. In a film where our hero is clearly told by Beckett to trust no one and expect everyone to eventually betray him (all the more poignant knowing what lies ahead in later movies), Qi’ra is Solo‘s biggest question mark. While we certainly understand Han’s attraction to her, we don’t necessarily trust her as much as he does.
L3-37 is the latest android to join the Star Wars mythology, as Lando’s super smart, quick-witted and sharp-tongued co-pilot, voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. And like only the most important droids in this vast 10-film (so far) saga, L3-37’s destiny is revealed to be totally tied into everything that happens in the bigger story after this movie.
Solo‘s big bad villain is Dryden Vos, played by Paul Bettany, a conniving gangster leader who hires Beckett’s crew for a dangerous job that requires a particularly fast ship, but it’s the frighteningly masked new character of Enfys Nest, played by Erin Kellyman, who makes a much more memorable impression. In fact, I’m hoping we get a whole new Story Wars Story movie all about Enfys Nest.
Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment of this latest entry, which takes place after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and before Rogue One, is that it is the first Star Wars movies since the 1977 original that requires no prior knowledge of any of the other films in order to get the same thrilling ride. It is firmly its own stand alone story, albeit one with a ton of cool references to the wider Star Wars universe.
The biggest surprise in the film is an unexpected cameo that will leave some viewers quite confused, but will make loyal fans of The Clone Wars and Rebels animated shows very happy.
Without a single Jedi or even one lightsaber, Solo soars as the most fun Star Wars film since Disney’s purchase and subsequent relaunch of the iconic franchise.
Reviewed by: Matt Artz
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Solo: A Star Wars Story (rated PG13) is playing locally at RC Theatres in Kill Devil Hills (through June 21).