‘Solo’ flight is pure fan fun
THE LIKELIHOOD of making a successful Han Solo prequel were approximately 3,720 to 1.
There was also the basic question: Is there even a purpose to make “Solo: A Star Wars Story”?
Like Princess Leia, we swooned over Harrison Ford’s smuggler over the course of his appearances in four “Star Wars” movies because he was a scoundrel. And an enigmatic one at that. If his mysterious past was suddenly revealed, would he remain as interesting?
Moreover, it didn’t instill confidence when directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (“The Lego Movie”) were fired during production of “Solo” — even if they were replace by the talented veteran Ron Howard.
Some of us had a bad feeling about this. But never tell Lucasfilm the odds. Because the studio somehow succeeded — mostly, anyway.
In the sci-fi heist movie opening May 25, a young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) escapes servitude on his home planet to set out to earn his fortune. He latches on to a gang of thieves led by Beckett (Woody Harrelson) out to steal a shipment of the explosive fuel, coaxium, for a crime lord (Paul Bettany).
That brings him into the orbit of a femme fatale from his past (Emilia Clarke) and a couple of familiar faces from the future in fellow outlaws, Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo).
The Kessel Run that the film takes from action set piece to action set piece is almost fast enough to obscure several convenient coincidences and plot holes. Of those there are too many, considering that the script is by Lawrence Kasdan — who wrote the best installment in the franchise, “The Empire Strikes Back” — and his son, Jonathan.
Fortunately, “Solo” is fueled by a stronger power source than mere coaxium — nostalgia. For “Star Wars” fans, it’s an enjoyable love story — between a boy and his Wookiee.
It’s not, however, a universal love story. A lot of the references (and a major plot twist) will simply go over the heads of tourists who are only passing through this galaxy far, far away. (Knock a half-star off the review if you fall in that camp.)
Despite midproduction reports of studio dissatisfaction with Ehrenreich, the “Hail, Caesar!” actor fills Ford’s boots — both literally and figuratively. Ehrenreich manages the right balance of channeling Ford without mimicking him.
Glover chews his way through the scenery of several star systems with such aplomb and charisma that one can only hope for a “Lando: A Star Wars Story.” But Clarke isn’t given enough to do, especially considering how highimpact the female characters have been in the last three “Star Wars” films.
The movie’s real hero, however, is Howard. He managed to bring a fun, if slightly scuffed up, joyride into theaters — against the odds.
As title hero of “Star Wars” prequel “Solo,” Alden Ehrenreich finds buddies in Chewbacca (main photo and left) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover, inset with a two-headed, shrimpy alien).