Solo: A Star Wars Story
Directed by: Ron Howard
Written by: Jonathan Kasdan, Lawrence Kasdan
Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Joonas Suotamo, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany and Linda Hunt
Run Time: 2h 15min
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
2 ½ Frames out of 5
By: Shari K. Green
‘Star Wars’ fan? You gotta see this. Period. I know some fans weren’t happy about Ron Howard replacing the original directors of the film, the team of longtime friends, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (‘Lego Movie,’ ‘21 Jump Street’), and it caused quite a ruckus but, in my opinion, for no reason. Ron Howard may not be known for his action pictures but watch ‘Rush,’ ‘Apollo 13’ and ‘Backdraft’ for examples of how he handles action sequences in film if you’re concerned about his abilities. What’s so good about Howard getting to helm the project is that he doesn’t only count on action to dazzle you but ensnares you by giving the story depth. He does this with familiar images, language and even tones to set the mood and take you back to when you were first introduced to the characters and their world. I’m inclined to think some audience members won’t like the film no matter who directs, for the simple fact that Harrison Ford is Han Solo and Alden Ehrenreich is not. While I realize it’s hard to see anyone else as the captain of the Millenium Falcon, I resisted the urge to automatically dislike the thought of seeing this prequel and went on to enjoy the film for what it offered, not what and who it doesn’t offer. You should, too. For what it’s worth, Ehrenreich plays a magnificent Han Solo. He even looks like him a few times, too.
Here, Han lives a miserable life and being that he’s a young man, has decided that life as a slave to the man isn’t for him. Where he’s from is a dark and dismal existence and he has learned to do whatever it takes, break any laws, to survive. This comes in handy when he decides he’s going to change the course his life is on and leave to become a pilot for the Imperial Army. Of course, slaves don’t decide what they get to do or when so, mind made up, he grabs his pretty but tough girlfriend Q’ira (Clarke) and they make a run for it. Their determination gets them to a not so friendly checkpoint but as you’d expect something happens to make Han the man he becomes. He makes it through… she does not. She encourages him to continue without her which he does, vowing to return to save her.
Later, after making it into the Army and getting to fly for it, but still having dreams of being the ‘good guy,’ he meets Beckett (Harrelson) and Val (Newton) who just happen to need a good pilot. This gets him away from his current situation and one step closer to getting back to Q’ira. Up to this point, the movie was a little slow but the pacing picks up when they need Han’s help for a fuel theft.
With a large weight on top of them, Ron Howard and the writing team of Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan manage to meet your expectations based on what you’ve always known from the franchise and its characters. They take great pain to include signature lines and memorable situations as ‘The Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs.’ Doing this includes you in on the joke from where it originally derived. Very smart. They show their audience how Han first meets Chewbacca (Suotamo) which is entertaining and comical. There are many other goodies peppered throughout the script for you to treasure.
I will admit that the creation of Han’s last name is rather lame, but it doesn’t compare to how bad the suggestion is that Lando Calrissian is having some sort of relationship with his robot L3. That won’t stop you from loving his character, however.
The graphics and cinematography more than make up for the few things you’ll find wrong with the script, which you’ll only locate when hunting with a fanboy lens, instead of just having fun in a movie because it’s good. When looking closely, what you should find is a message warning of how horribly life can change when under evil leaders instead of whether or not Howard is worthy of the brand because, his ability to mix dramatic nuance with comedy and action, it’s clear that he is. And, unlike before I saw this, I’m very much looking forward to this storyline continuing.