4 out of 5 Stars
Han Solo is a favorite character for many from the Star Wars franchise and if you have ever wondered about his past – where he came from and how he got to where he was when Episode IV opens – Solo will help answer some of that for you. I was invited to an advanced screening of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” this week to check it out.
The film came about as a passion project for Lawrence Kasdan and Kathleen Kennedy. The “Solo” project was one of the first stand-alone films George Lucas discussed when he outlined his plans to Kennedy. It was agreed that Kasdan who also wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, would be the perfect person to take on writing the screenplay because he knew Han Solo better than anybody, so when Lawrence Kasdan found out the film was about Han Solo he couldn’t say no – Han was always his favorite. I think this also helped with continuity of the films and what we have come to expect from certain characters, especially those as iconic as Han. Kasdan found himself in the interesting position of writing this screenplay while seeing the Han’s death while working on the set of The Force Awakens. It was a rare moment for any writer, and an opportunity he couldn’t wait to explore.
In Lucas Film’s newest addition to the Star Wars franchise, directed by Ron Howard, we follow the adventure-filled past of Han Solo. Alden Ehrenreich plays one of the most beloved characters the franchise has put on the screen. I will be honest, at first I was having a little trouble with him being Han after growing up with Harrison Ford playing the role, but by the end of the movie I was totally into it. It took me shifting my mind set – not expecting that crooked smile and accepting his speech tones and body language are different. Ehrenreich has a charm all his own and embraces the charisma Han should have. Like all of us, when we are younger we act differently and haven’t smoothed out who we really are. We are still trying to figure things out. This is also the case here as he sets out on a journey of self discovery. We see it with young Han and we see it with young Lando in this film too – although young Lando is pretty smooth already!
Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot, Chewbacca, played again by Joonas Suotamo. Our unlikely hero will encounter the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, played by Donald Glover. Donald Glover hits his role out of the park and I honestly could not think of another actor I would have liked to seen play Lando. I also loved learning a lot more about Chewie and where he comes from. He plays a much larger role in this film than he has in past films and is a favorite character in his own right.
The film boasts additional acting giants with Woody Harrelson playing Tobias Beckett, Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra, and Thandie Newton as Val. I really love when Harrelson plays these “hired job” kinds of roles. He is likely one of the most honest people in the film
despite believing that you “shouldn’t trust anyone and you will never be disappointed”. Clarke does a great job as Qi’ra, Han’s childhood friend, and leaves us guessing what she is going to do throughout the movie as things have changed a great deal since their days on Corellia. Rounding out the main cast we see Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the voice of L3-37, a robot with a serious rebel spirit and Paul Bettany plays a very evil Dryden Vos.
I loved the story line and how it tied some things up from previous movies, it sets the stage for things to come and gives us so much more in entertainment. We get to meet new characters and fall back in love with people we have met before. The whole movie is really good fun with plenty of humor and suspense – much of it coming from Han. There are a couple of kissing scenes and the usual fighting which has lead to the movie being rated PG-13 in the US.
The film is pretty long at 143 minutes but we didn’t feel like there were any points that dragged and we stayed well engaged. My 10-year-old son never complained about the length and he didn’t even get all wiggly, which is an excellent sign that it will keep your attention.
The movie opens in theaters everywhere on 25 May and we highly recommend it. In the mean time, here is the latest trailer to get you psyched and you can find the Star Wars activity sheets Disney made available for me to share with you here! Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I was given free admission to this movie. I am not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my very own. All images are used with permission – ©Disney and ©Lucas Films. All rights reserved.