Set some 10-13 years before the events of A New Hope, Solo finds our favorite smuggler scraping by as a street-rat before embarking on an adventure that will connect him with a certain Wookie, smooth-talking frenemies, and the fastest ship in the galaxy. The production behind Disney’s second spin-off film in this franchise is more storied than its lead character and many fans questioned whether they wanted this particular backstory explored in the first place — not to mention a virtual unknown actor stepping into some of cinema’s biggest shoes. Solo seemed doomed from the start and it’s perhaps fitting that it embarked with only one goal in mind: be a good time. And that’s what this film is, for better or worse, a light and fun two hours through space.
First off, Alden Ehrenreich acquits himself admirably as Han Solo. He embodies many of the qualities that made Han so memorable without ever feeling like an imitation. Donald Glover is predictably great as Lando and almost steals the show if it was not for Chewbacca. The relationship between Han and Chewie takes center stage and is the movie’s biggest strength. Woody Harrelson fits this galaxy like a glove while Emilia Clarke is perhaps its biggest surprise. Her character’s story was one of the most intriguing and Clarke is quite affecting in the role. There’s plenty of thrilling action, highlighted by the famed Kessel Run, and a couple of big surprises for fans. However the film does have a slight feeling to it. While it’s an entertaining caper from moment-to-moment with lots to enjoy, it does feel rather inessential within the context of the other movies. Some may see that as a strength, making it far more rewatchable than some other entries, while others see it as lacking any sort of depth. I fall somewhere in between, seeing it as a fun collection of parts that don’t ultimately add up to all that much. Grade: B+