The most interesting relationship in the Star Wars saga, and the most moving, wasn’t between Luke and his father, or Anakin and Obi-Wan, or even Han and Leia. No, the pairing that added humour and warmth to the original three movies and heartbreak to The Force Awakens is the one between Han Solo and his furry pal Chewbacca, and Sologives us (finally!) their origin story.
Han – who doesn’t even have a last name as the story begins – is a small time thief on his dismal home planet of Corellia. When his latest money-making scheme is thwarted, he escapes arrest leaving behind girlfriend Qi’ra (Clarke). His plan is to learn to be a pilot and get his own ship so he can return for her, but circumstances lead him to team up with mercenaries Tobias Beckett (Harrelson), Val (Newton) and Rio Durant (voiced by Jon Favreau). And when a heist they’re doing for nasty kingpin Dryden Vos (Bettany) doesn’t go as planned, they have to seek out pilot Lando Calrissian (Glover) to see whether they can use his famously fast ship (no prizes for guessing its name) to finish the job.
A fun romp through outer space that takes us through lots of fast-paced set pieces – Han’s escape from Corellia, the monorail heist, and a gun battle on a mining planet among them – this is packed full of knowing nods to the original movies that fans will love. After all, we know where this story is going – there are no huge surprises – so it makes sense to make it as tongue-in-cheek and unashamedly entertaining as possible.
Of course, much of the fun is enjoying the first meeting and subsequent teaming of Han and Chewbacca, and Ehrenreich and Suotamo (as Chewie) are perfectly matched. And, while fans may have been worried that Ehrenreich didn’t perhaps have the physical stature of Harrison Ford, he makes for a believable, likeable and enjoyably cocky young Han whose adventures it is a thrill to follow.
There are some mis-steps – Glover and Newton are woefully underused, whereas Clarke is around a bit too much – but director Ron Howard (famously taking over from original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who departed due to creative differences with Lucasfilm) has a light touch that suits the story. He also inherited a skilled cast, with Bettany making the most of a thinly written bad guy role (Vos, alas, is no Darth Vader) while Waller-Bridge is drily superb as feminist robot L3-37.
It may not be one of the best Star Wars movies, but viewed as a sci-fi summer blockbuster, it’s a blast.
Is Solo: A Star Wars Story suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
As with all the Star Wars movies, this does contain some violence in the form of fights, blaster shootings etc. These scenes are mainly bloodless and few wounds are shown.
Very young children may find Vos’s scarred face slightly scary.
Parents should note this movie is more family friendly/less violent than Revenge Of The Sith and The Last Jedi.
There is some mild bad language.
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