Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future copilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian.
Back in 1977 I remember going into the original Cine Capri to see “Star Wars” with some friends. I was very young but little did I know that movie would change my life and put me on the path that I am now. Over the decades that have followed I have read the books and comics, played with the toys, played the video games, and eagerly watched any new film or television show related to the franchise.
The fact that Disney has put out a new film every years since “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is great for fans like me as those three year waits; to say nothing of the 17+ years between the Original and Prequel Trilogies were tough.
Through it all my favorite character has always been Han Solo. I do not know what it is but the brash, cocky, money loving; scoundrel who gets in and out of trouble yet does the right thing in the end has always connected with me.
So when news came that there would be a new movie based on the early years of the title characters I was excited but concerned as Harrison Ford is so iconic in that role I could not see how anyone could measure up.
Combine that with original Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller being removed from the film after shooting a significant number of weeks, there was ample concern to go around.
Fortunately for fans, Director Ron Howard has crafted a very enjoyable film as “Han Solo: A Star Wars Story” deftly combines the action, visuals, and humor that made the films cinematic legends and in doing so introduces new characters and expands the lore of the Star Wars Universe.
The film follows a young Han (Alden Ehrenreich), who hustles to survive and get off the world of Corrilia.
Han like many kids on the street pull all sorts of scams under the control of various criminals and he plots to escape with his friend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke).
When an opportunity arises, Han takes it, but finds himself in the Imperial Navy which does not bode well for a person with strong opinions and a mind of his own.
Fate steps in once again and introduces Han to Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), and a mentor figure in the form of a man named Beckett (Woody Harrelson). Han attempts to prove himself to his new crew as he sees this as his way out to a better life. However with things take a turn for the worse, he must work with his new associates to clear the slate with a deadly crime boss named Dry’den Vos (Paul Bettany).
As anyone who follows the series knows Han has a way of escalating a situation and this leads the crew to recruiting Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), into the crew as they set off to pull off a risky and dangerous mission to get the much needed resources to save their lives.
What follows is a very enjoyable film that has an appropriate amount of humor and character building as well as plenty of good action and effects which should keep fans of the series happy. The new characters were very enjoyable and added a new depth to Han as well as the Star Wars mythos but what really impressed me was that at no time did I find myself comparing Ehrenreich to Harrison Ford. He was charismatic and enjoyable in the role and I easily believed that this was Han before life, the universe, and circumstances turned him into the man we would know years later.
Glover is uncanny with his version of Lando and he at times almost sounded like Billy Dee Williams and had many of the mannerisms of the character down His back and forth with Han was great to see and we got a much deeper understand of both the characters and their complicated history with one another.
Clark and Harrelson round things out well as they provide a great balance to Han. One is a mentor and one is the link to the life he had and the dreams he wants to achieve. Ron Howard moves things along well without rushing things as while it does take a bit of time getting up to speed, it happens at a natural pace without seeming rushed. Howard also does not rely on an abundance of effects to carry the film. There are plenty of practical FX and makeup creations to make you well aware that this is a vast and diverse galaxy but he uses them and the CGI to enhance the story rather than carry it.
There are numerous nods throughout to past films as well both visual and verbal and a few great surprises along the way. It is believed that more adventures of the younger Han will be coming in the future and I cannot wait for them to arrive as this was a very fun film. Now the only hard part will be the 19 month wait for Episode IX as the five month wait from the last film already seems like ages ago and I cannot wait for more.
4.5 stars out of 5
Lucasfilm Ltd., Walt Disney Pictures, Allison Shearmur Productions, Imagine Entertainment by Ron Howard, Jonathan Kasdan, Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas.
Stars: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke.
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Keywords: spacecraft smuggling (contraband) prequel spin off space opera
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