I had extremely low expectations for this. I'm of the mindset that we don't need the origin story of every single character. Darth Vader was scary in A New Hope because you had no idea who he was. Revealing so much of his backstory in the prequels was a terrible choice. Han Solo was fine with a few hints of his smuggling past, I didn't need to know exactly how he met Chewbacca or Lando or anything. I know Disney has rumored plans for origin stories for Yoda, Boba Fett, and likely tons of other characters. I was also worried when I heard Ron Howard was being brought in to replace the original directors, acting coaches were brought in for Alden Ehrenreich...things just weren't looking good. That said, when one has such low expectations, you can really only be pleasantly surprised, right?

These "Star Wars Stories" that began with "Rogue One" are an attempt to put some distance away from the "Skywalker Saga" that makes up the original and the prequel trilogy. Part of what was bad about the prequels was that the universe ended up shrinking (Yoda knew Chewbacca from the Clone Wars? Greedo used to pod-race with Anakin? Come on.) but with Rogue One & Solo, they're finally stretching their legs and making the Star Wars universe feel big.

Han is an orphan, living as a slave/thief for a gang, along with his girlfriend Qi'ra. They make an attempt to escape, but Qi'ra is caught at the last moment. Han decides to join the Imperial Army in order to return to try to be reunited with his love. While in the army, he teams up with a group of smugglers, leading to an attempted heist that drags him further into the dangerous criminal underworld. He gets involved in a bunch of twists and turns and betrayals, which I won't spoil, but serve as a good precursor to his life as a smuggler while setting up a connection to the Rebellion.

Despite my low expectations, I was actually really entertained the entire time. I wasn't totally thrilled by Alden Ehrenreich; he had a few moments that made me go "whoa, he nailed that Harrison Ford facial expression or body language or mannerism", but there were plenty of times that it just felt weird. I think my biggest issue with the casting, and the entire concept of the Solo prequel, is this: in the original trilogy, Luke is 19 or 20 years old, which would make Leia the same age, so Han would be what, 30ish? Even saying that "Solo" takes place 10 years before "A New Hope", it's just hard to accept that Alden transforms into Harrison in that span. I think his shortcomings were actually highlight by how awesome Donald Glover was. He NAILS Lando Calrissian, to the point where a couple times I was wondering if they had Billy Dee Williams record lines and dub them over Glover. I really enjoyed Paul Bettany, Emilia Clarke was fine, and I was surprised at how often I "forgot" that Woody Harrelson was Woody Harrelson. I mentioned this for "Rogue One", that I kept thinking "hey, that's Forest Whitaker in a Star Wars movie", but Woody was able to avoid that pit.

It wasn't perfect, but it was fun. I had a fear that I'd be walking into a "sci-fi buddy comedy bromance", but I got a solid story with some good emotional highs and lows, good jokes, and left entertained.

[Celluloid Hero] gives "Solo: A Star Wars Story" 7 out of 10.




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