How would you like to watch a Star Wars movie that isn’t full of itself? A Star Wars movie that isn’t weighed down by debates over the future of the Jedi order? A Star Wars movie that doesn’t involve trying to blow up a Death Star, or repeat several other elements of the original trilogy?
Maybe you’d like a Star Wars movie that’s just simple, goofy fun.
That’s the Star Wars movie that director Ron Howard delivers with “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” It won’t go down in the annals as one of the great Star Wars films (although honestly – aside from the first two – there aren’t that many great Star Wars films), but at least it’s entertaining without being oh, so serious.
Alden Ehrenreich stars as Han Solo, who as a young man grew up in difficult circumstances on an undesirable planet. He and girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) are about to escape but they get separated and she’s dragged back to the slave pit they call home. Han vows to return for Qi’ra once he makes enough money to buy a ship and return.
Making that kind of money with Han’s particular talents leads to him hooking up with gangster Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson). Their attempt at a big score ends badly, leaving them in big debt to an even bigger gangster — Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). In an amazing coincidence (even more astounding when you consider how large the universe is), Qi’ra is Dryden’s right-hand woman.
Tobias and Han will have to come up with an impressive heist to appease Dryden. Along the way they will meet up with some familiar faces — such as Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover).
“Solo” suffered from a number of production issues but the end result is a solid if not spectacular film. At times the special effects don’t measure up to Star Wars standards and the look is often darker and dingier than the franchise is known for. The train robbery sequence early on is quite impressive. The black hole sequence, not so much.
Ehrenreich is decent but the shadow of Harrison Ford is long indeed. Harrelson is a welcome addition to any franchise. The rest of the cast are fine.
It’s a pretty standard story. A few twists, but some of them are telegraphed so they’re not a big surprise. The main draw is seeing Han at this early stage and his early relationships with Chewie and Lando.