After a troubled development - which included hiring a new director and a lot of reshoots - the scruffy looking Nerf Herder's origin story is here. Starting with his early years on Corellia, the movie charts Han Solo's (Alden Ehrenreich) time with Imperial Fleet and the beginnings of his criminal career. Along the way he makes a few friends, some familiar, some not so much. At this point Han hasn't become the jaded cynic we see in A New Hope, he's young and more of an optimist. He's also introduced to the Millennium Falcon, after all, what would a Han Solo movie be without "the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy"?
Disney's latest foray into a galaxy far, far away is a little lighter and more fun than the last two. Some have described Solo (the movie, not the man) as a box ticking exercise, and in a way they're right. But that is only a small part of the movie. There are certain events that had to happen and some that were fun to include. The Kasdans have created a story that incorporates these moments, but they're just part of a greater narrative. This marks the beginning of Han's journey to becoming the Captain Han Solo we know and love.
What makes Solo interesting - apart from the fact it's a heist movie within a Star Wars movie - is the state of the galaxy. We're used to seeing the Galactic Empire at the height of its power. Solo is set ten years before the events of Rogue One and A New Hope, Imperial forces are still fighting for control of certain systems and in some cases are making deals with crime syndicates for territory and resources. But this is still very much a Star Wars movie, just one that explores a different part of the universe.
Much like Rogue One, a lot of work has been done to capture the look of the original trilogy, whilst also bringing something new to the franchise. Solo is definitely the more action-packed of the Star Wars Anthology movies. A perfect example of this is the Conveyex (train) heist, Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his crew aim to steal one carriage and there's only one way to do it, something that's incredibly difficult considering the train is protected by Stormtroopers with magnetic boots. It's a thrilling scene - possibly one of the best in the movie - and it looks incredible, but it's like nothing we have seen in a Star Wars movie before. The Millennium Falcon, albeit sleeker and shinier than we are used to, is still the dependable crate it always was. Watching Han fall in love with her is a lot of fun, and when he gets his hands on the wheel he really puts her through her paces in what proves to be one of the movie's most exciting set pieces.
Then there's the man himself. Alden Ehrenreich does a brilliant job as Han. He gives a performance similar to that of Harrison Ford's without it being simply an imitation. It's easy to believe that Ehrenreich is playing a younger version of the same character. Joonas Suotamo, who seems to have settled comfortably into the role of Chewbacca has excellent chemistry with his new co-star. The two young actors clearly had a lot of fun working together and this translates to the screen, their scenes together often prove to be the most entertaining. And the same can be said for the other returning character, Donald Glover was the perfect choice to play Lando Calrissian. He's cool, he's smooth, he's stylish and - as Billy Dee Williams advised - he's charming. Glover is able to play all of that and still show Lando for the sly, swindler that he is. Yes he has an interesting relationship with his droid co-pilot, the hilariously radical L3-37 played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, but it's not really that weird when you consider what goes on in today's society!
As well as Han and his old friends, Solo boasts an impressive cast of new characters. Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) is a woman surrounded by mystery. Despite a strong connection to Han's past, she is a lot more than just a love interest. She is smart, capable and tough. Clarke plays her in such a way that you never really know what she's thinking, you only see what she wants you to see. Woody Harrelson's Tobias Beckett inadvertently becomes Han's mentor when he hires him for a job. As a skilled warrior and criminal - wise yet rough round the edges - he teaches Han some of his most valuable lessons, it's a role Harrelson suits. Beckett's wife and partner Val (Thandie Newton) is fiercely loyal, often playing devil's advocate, she keeps Beckett grounded. She's definitely a character I would like to have seen more of. The same goes for masked rival gang leader Enfys Nest (Erin Kellyman). Paul Bettany is perfect as the movie's big bad, Dryden Vos. His care and concern for his employees is so fake it only serves to make him more intimidating. Vos' violent rage - which causes his facial scars to change colour - seems to be compensation for fear of his own employers. Despite Bettany's excellent performance, Vos is the one character I am curious to see as Lord and Miller intended, with Michael K. Williams in the role.
Unlike Rogue One, which had to tie up a lot of loose ends before the end of the movie, Solo has been left open to sequels. With ten years between the events of this movie and his famous meeting with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker in the Mos Eisley Cantina, the young smuggler has a lot of growing up to do. In an effort to set up future sequels or possible tie ins to other anthology movies, the writers added a little twist to the end of the story. The problem is, unless you're a die hard Star Wars fan or at least familiar with the animated shows 'The Clone Wars' and 'Rebels', the twist may prove a tad confusing. Now don't get me wrong, the twist is very interesting, and I look forward to seeing where they go with it, but I can't help feel that it was part of a cheap marketing ploy to promote other Star Wars projects.
Solo: A Star Wars Story proves to be exactly what it says on the tin...err poster. It's a western set in space, a heist movie and a Star Wars movie all rolled into one and the result is a lot of fun. The origins of one of film's most beloved characters is handled perfectly, and despite some familiarity the story also manages to surprise us. This may not be a story we initially wanted telling, but now that we've got it, you'll probably be glad they did. I for one look forward to seeing more of the young Han Solo and Chewbacca.
What did you think of Solo: A Star Wars Story? Let us know by leaving a comment below or find us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also email us at email@example.com