Dir. Ron Howard
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)
“Never tell me the odds…”
I was going to start this review with a pun but I thought about it and just couldn’t bring myself to stoop Solo…
*dust weeds tumble past*
So – here it is then, another spin-off prequel from the Star Wars universe. Telling the tale of young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich), years before the scruffy nerf-herder / smuggler helped a young Jedi and the rebellion take on the Empire.
After a troubled gestation, with directors changing and rumours of on-set dissatisfaction – the result is actually a fun heist romp, albeit a lesser ‘Star Wars’ film.
The Disney approved team certainly work hard to tick all the fanboy requirements… Ever wondered why Han shot first in A New Hope? Did he really make the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs? How did he meet his furry pal Chewbacca? All these and more are answered which helps make up for the fact that there’s no real peril due to it not being a spoiler to know that Han doesn’t die in this one!?
"someone call for baddies?"
Star of the film though is the young Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) who is superb in channelling the cheeky swagger that Billy Dee Williams rocked in The Empire Strikes Back. There are some fin new characters on hand too such as Han’s childhood sweetheart, Qi'Ra (Emilia ‘Game of Thrones’ Clarke), shady leader of a thief gang Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his crew who include four armed alien Rio (Jon Favreau), and tough gal Val (Thandie Newton).
The big baddies here though are the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn whose boss is Dryden Vos (a nicely creepy turn from Paul Bettany). Along the way there are some exciting heists but very little actual plot so it leaves you feeling a little short changed and wondering why it played it all so safe.
"She'll make mark 2 past lightspeed"
The special effects are up to scratch which is a bonus, especially cool is Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37 robot co-pilot who hangs out with Lando. She brings both humour and a fun spin on feminist rights transposed to droids – who she battles to free from oppression.
In the end the Solo should please Star Wars aficionados – and I count myself in that group as I sleep with a model of the Millennium Falcon on my bedside table and called my firstborn son Luke so every night I can say 'LUKE, I AM YOUR FATHER' – but it doesn’t do much for the next ‘main’ entry in the franchise.... so let's see where they go next with the whole spin off thing.
"A new form of girl power"
Overall though about his own film Han himself might be tempted to say: “I have an good feeling about this.”
Out of a potential 5, you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(3.5 - Star Wars'y fun that ticks the boxes)
Awesomeness öööö – Gets good in places
Laughs ööö – Intergalactic mirth
Horror öö – Not too grim
Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - Be careful of who you trust