THAT cheeky but lovable scoundrel Han Solo from the Star Wars films finally gets his own origin story with this occasionally thrilling, occasionally dull entry in the ongoing saga.
When a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) is separated from his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) during political unrest and war, he vows to be reunited with her.
But during the three years of unsuccessful attempts, he joins the armed forces and meets outlaw Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), with whom he schemes to steal valuable resources with for huge paydays.
Meanwhile, Qi’ra shacks up with crime lord Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) who the outlaws end up doing a dangerous job for.
The origin explanations feel like a checklist of moments that are probably unavoidable, lest the fans miss out and have a whinge online.
Explaining Han’s last name, the first reveal of the Millennium Falcon and Solo saying Chewbacca needs a nickname are all a bit on the nose – but they are probably moments that Star Wars fans have been clamouring for since the 1970s.
Side-stepping iconic elements of the Star Wars universe – the force, light sabres and Yoda – are a good idea and make for a refreshing, alternative look at this universe.
The blossoming bromance between Solo and Chewie is nice to witness, but not all the banter between characters lands.
There were several moments in a packed out cinema that remained silent when verbal jokes went down like a Millennium Falcon without fuel.
Director Ron Howard placates the producing team with his darker aesthetic and toned down jokester tone.
Original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie) were turfed off the project for making it too jokey and getting loose with Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan’s script.
Sure, there are the winks, nudges and in-jokes for the die-hard fans and one-liners that Solo is known for, but with gloomy cinematography, the look is a far cry from George Lucas’ vivid, shiny prequels.
Solo: A Star Wars Story (M)
Directed by: Ron Howard
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke
Review by: Julian Wright
In cinema May 24