Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in Solo: A Star Wars Story, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future co-pilot Chewbacca and befriends the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the Star Wars saga’s most unlikely heroes.
Solo: A Star Wars Story, or simply Solo, is a new American space Western film about Han Solo, a character from the Star Wars franchise, a stand-alone installment set prior to the events of the original 1977 Star Wars film, Star Wars: A New Hope. The film is listed as ‘directed by Ron Howard’ and produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur, and Simon Emanuel for Lucasfilm, from a screenplay by Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan.
Solo is the second of the Star Wars anthology films, based on characters created by George Lucas, with music by John Powell and John Williams (Han Solo theme and original Star Wars music). Officially it is ‘directed by Ron Howard,’ because Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the film’s original directors, were fired from the film in June 2017 after over four-and-a-half months of shooting, about three-quarters through principal photography, and Howard took over directing duties for the remaining three-and-a-half weeks of scheduled principal photography and five weeks of reshoots. Lord and Miller were given credit as executive producers on the film for their work. Lawrence Kasdan had created the character of Lando when he directed The Empire Strikes Back, and his signature is all over the new film.
Alden Ehrenreich stars as Han Solo, about whom Ehrenreich says, “I think the Han we meet in this film is more of an idealist. He has certain dreams that he follows, and we watch how it affects him as those dreams meet new realities – realities that are harder and more challenging than he’d expected.”
Emilia Clarke stars as Qi’ra, and Clarke has said this about her relationship with Han: “They grew up as comrades, essentially. They grew up as pals, as partners in crime. There is obviously the romantic side of things. But they grew up together. So they were kids together.” Clarke is best known for her portrayal of Khaleesi on HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Woody Harrelson stars as Tobias Beckett, a criminal and Han’s mentor. The character of Beckett was based on Long John Silver from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Thandie Newton stars as Val Beckett, Tobias’ wife and a member of his crew.
Donald Glover stars as Lando Calrissian, a smuggler on the rise in the galaxy’s underworld. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is L3-37, Lando’s droid companion. The film is drawing much interest and notoriety because the sentient droid and Lando have a genuine romantic relationship, which has led to Lando’s character being labeled ‘pansexual’ in the media. Joonas Suotamo is Chewbacca, Han’s Wookiee sidekick and best friend, who also serves as his first mate, reprising the role from The Last Jedi. Glover’s portrayal has drawn rave reviews and sparked a movement to bring a Lando Calrissian movie to screen.
Paul Bettany stars as Dryden Vos, a crime lord and Qi’ra’s associate. Michael K. Williams had originally been cast, but he was removed from the final film after being unable to return to set during the film’s reshoots. Bettany was cast in his place after contacting director Ron Howard, and the character was reworked from a motion-capture alien (described by Williams as half-mountain lion, half-human) to a scarred human. Bettany thus becomes one of the rare actors with significant roles in both the Star Wars and Marvel cinema franchises, as he plays Vision in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most notably in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Avengers: Infinity War.
Solo: A Star Wars Story had its world premiere on May 10 in Los Angeles, and also screened on May 15 at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. The film is set for debut in selected countries on May 23, with early US screenings scheduled for May 24, and will have its official US release on May 25, 2018, which is the 41st anniversary of the release of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, in which Harrison Ford first appeared as Han Solo.
On Rotten Tomatoes, at press time Solo holds an approval rating of 71% based on 123 reviews, with an average rating of 6.5 / 10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “A flawed yet fun and fast-paced space adventure, Solo: A Star Wars Story should satisfy newcomers to the saga as well as longtime fans who check their expectations at the theater door.”
Bernard Boo of PopMatters wrote, “If what you want from a Star Wars movie is an action-adventure romp, and the last two movies in the franchise (The Last Jedi and Rogue One) felt a little too dreary and heavy on pathos, Solo is sure to lift your spirits and give you more thrills than you can handle. Some of the action sequences are seriously breathtaking and will keep you teetering on the edge of your seat.”
Solo: A Star Wars Story, has a rating of PG-13 (for sequences of sci-fi action/violence) and a run time of 135 minutes. I found it to be entertaining and informative about the backstories of Han, Lando and Chewbacca, especially learning how Solo got his name, how he won the Millenium Falcon from Lando, and how it made the Kessel run in – was it 12 or 14 parsecs. I also enjoyed the inevitable vehicle chase scenes, train heist scene, and especially the character interaction. I need to qualify that by saying that the vehicles were not cars and some were space vehicles while some were land-based; and many of the characters were not humans. It will be an enjoyable film for families, even for relatively young children, unlike Deadpool 2, which should only be seen by older teenagers and adults. There were a few random similarities to the Avengers: Infinity War film that made me laugh, as well.