Ever wanted to witness Hans Solo performing the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs? We see that and a little more throughout Solo: A Star Wars Story. It’s a love letter from director Ron Howard to this enduring franchise. By now, it’s clear what critics, fans and viewers expect: battles between Jedi and the Sith. However, what separates Howard’s film from the pack must be the exclusion of such forces. Under the guiding influence of screenwriters Jonathan Kasdan and his father Lawrence Kasdan, an iconic character gains shape. Plus, we learn how Solo became allies with Chewbacca, the mightiest Wookiee in the galaxy.
Another factor which could determine viewer participation would be the absence of Harrison Ford. Some may argue for a digital clone, the voice being added later. Although we encounter Han at more or less the same time as events from A New Hope, that’s as close to the 1977 film as we ever get.
With heavy shoes to fill, Alden Ehrenreich has left himself open to criticism. Taking into account how Star Wars aficionados may feel about a part which ultimately belongs to Ford, the former could dismissed as a hack impersonator. However, that’s the wrong assumption because there’s no imitation in this performance. As such, Ehrenreich plays the character as written, not simply imagining what Ford would do. Therefore, I enjoyed watching this young actor slip and slide into danger.
What a boost for Game of Thrones very own Emilia Clarke. Of the half dozen reasons to seek out Solo, she presents half of them. Her reactions bless this franchise with a refreshing glow, a luminance which causes us to hold on every pause, anxiously awaiting the response.
So to the music. Presenting a new Han Solo theme by John Williams, the remainder was left to John Powell. No fool he. By including key musical ideas from the earlier soundtracks, especially the Tie fighter battle from A New Hope, he succeeds in building a lasting continuity.
Elevated by strong supporting actors Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany, the film observes key complexities via emotional dexterity. As for the rest, as my late grandmother would say: good filming.
(Released by Walt Disney Pictures and rated “PG-13” for sci-fi action/violence.)