Solo: A Star Wars Story

Directed By: Ron Howard
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Thandi Newton, Jon Favreau, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Paul Bettany, Joonas Suotamo, Erin Kellyman, Linda Hunt, et. al.
Rated: PG-13
Grade: B+

The story of young Han Solo, and how he came to be the man he was at the beginning of the original Star Wars movie. Growing up an orphan on the planet Corellia, Han becomes a street thief for the White Worms gang and their leader, Lady Proxima. After a con goes bad, Han and his girlfriend, Qi’ra attempt to escape through the nearest spaceport, but Qi’ra is captured, and Han only escapes by joining he Imperial Army as a pilot. Years later having been relegated to the Imperial infantry after getting kicked out of flight school, Han deserts the army after the invasion of an otherwise peaceful planet. Originally placed in a holding cell to be fed to another prisoner, which the soldiers guarding it call the Beast, who turns out to be a Wookie named Chewbacca. After escaping the holding cell, Han and Chewbacca join up with a group of smugglers, led by a man named Beckett. After their first outing with Beckett stealing valuable coaxium goes disastrously wrong, Beckett, Han, and Chewbacca go to the leader of the gang Crimson Dawn, a violently dangerous man named Dryden Voss, to plead for mercy after their failed mission. While there, Han learns that Qi’ra also works for Voss, and he comes up with a new plan to get the coaxium that Crimson Dawn was promised. After obtaining a ship with the help of Lando Calrissian, the group sets off and steals the unrefined coaxium from the planet Kessel. After making it to the refinery planet, Han is confronted with the surviving victims of Crimson Dawn, and must choose whether to hand the coaxium over to Voss, do what’s right and stand up to him.

There was so much hope for this movie when it was announced. With the success of the new Star Wars trilogy, as well as the previous Star Wars Story, Rogue One, Solo was all but guaranteed to be a great success. Unfortunately, the movie was marred by behind the scenes drama, which included the firing of the original directors shortly before filming wrapped and then reshooting about 80% of the movie, and a release date a little too close to the previous Star Wars movie kept this from being the mega blockbuster it could have been. As for the acting, Alden Ehrenreich does a serviceable job as Han Solo, though the characters trademark sarcastic swagger seems to have been replaced with a warm congeniality. The real stand outs are Donald Glover and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who deliver superb performances and steal nearly every scene they’re in.

The special effects are fantastic. ILM is one of the top effects companies and they do a great job. There are plenty of space shots, even though the planetary landscapes look decidedly Earthy. All of the background elements are seamless, and the instances of futuristic/alien technology and characters are rendered well.

Despite all of the controversy surrounding the filming/production of the movie, they managed to make an entertaining feature. It may not be the best entry into Star Wars canon, and it may not answer all of the questions fans wanted answered, but it’s enjoyable, and can be watched without having seen any other Star Wars movie. It’s definitely I’d recommend watching, and no one should be mad at having spent the money renting/buying it.

Solo: A Star Wars Story isn’t available to stream anywhere at the moment, but it can be rented from Redbox or Netflix home delivery service, or purchased from a participating store or on-line retailer.

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