Press ganged from childhood into a Correllian crime gang, a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) dream of escape. Ever the resourceful charmer, Han has a plan to save them. However a different kind of life awaits and it will be one where no one is quite what they seem.
As a standalone Star Wars story ‘Solo’ delivers where its troubled production history might have indicated otherwise. From the ashes of fired directors and on-set tensions, a new hope has emerged. You see, the issue with any sequel or spin-off is fidelity. How close do you go to source material without re-telling same story again and yet not become too distant from the things we loved? It’s a delicate balancing act, none more so when you have new leading man in a much-beloved role.
'This is a movie that reflects its hero and takes risks...'
As its title suggests ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ is an origin story at its heart. How Han became Han. And yet with the license of a standalone story, it has happily also become something more. Like its titular hero, this is a movie that takes risks – and it should be deservedly applauded for it.
Why? This time there is no Death Star, there are no secret plans to steal and (bordering on heresy)… no Harrison Ford as Han Solo. By breaking away from the past and introducing a new cast, Solo: A Star Wars Story’ plays with Star Wars’s mythology, keeping what it wants, discarding what it doesn’t. There are still references and nods to the other movies but (like ‘Rogue One’) ‘Solo’ is a movie that wants to tells its own story, without drowning in homages.
In the pivotal roles of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian, Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover quickly establish themselves as the characters they are playing. And this is where ‘Solo’s levity comes from. Without being weighed-down by actors you know all too well, the audience is free to re-discover each character as each of the new actors do. Han was never going to be sardonic or bitter from the get-go. His was a heart waiting to be broken and in ‘Solo’ we see a well judged first step in how its characters can be dented by betrayal and loss.
Together with the ever reliable Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany, ‘Solo’ is a movie framed with a litany of strong acting performances. Moving across a gorgeously realised landscape, this is a Star Wars movie that resolutely stays true to its tale of smugglers and outlaws and not ‘the force’ or the manifest destinies of its characters. For some, this is heresy but ‘Solo’ is a tale told from Star Wars’s wild outer rim and it is all the better for it.
Whilst purists may howl at the departures from a ‘standard Star Wars movie’, ‘Solo’ instead does what many hadn’t expected – it actually entertains. In stepping out from the shadow of a universe that has dominated our cinema screens for over forty years, this is no mean feet and one that you should enjoy on the big screen. Let go of your conscious self and act on instinct. This is one movie that will surprise rather than confound your expectations.
Prepare for the jump to light speed!1