MOVIE REVIEW: Han Solo origin story a fun ride
FOR a film that really struggled to get into the air, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a fun ride.
The latest spin-off in the Disney/Lucasfilm franchise tells the origin story of beloved Star Wars scoundrel Han Solo, originally brought to life by Harrison Ford four decades ago.
Using his wits to survive as an orphan on the ship-building planet of Corellia, Han manages to make it off the backwater planet but is tragically separated from his first love Qi-ra (Emilia Clarke).
He vows to return for her once he becomes a pilot and when he meets smuggler Tobia Beckett (Woody Harrelson), it seems he may finally have the opportunity if they can pull off one big job.
The stakes aren't as high as in Solo as they were in Rogue One. This is more of an intimate adventure for Han and his new-found crew: Beckett, his wife Val (Thandie Newton) and Rio Durrant (voiced by Jon Favreau) - a multi-armed monkey-like creature who is a little bit too reminiscent of Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy.
The heist reunites Han and Qi'ra, who's no longer the doe-eyed girl he knew.
The real romance is between Han, his future co-pilot Chewbacca and their future ship - the Millennium Falcon (still owned at this stage by Donald Glover's Lando Calrissian). Han and Chewie's first meeting is one of the highlights of the film.
Plagued by issues during production, including the ousting of original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Solo doesn't feel as disjointed as I'd expected.
There are a few good plot twists as Han works out who, if anyone, he can trust. The action sequences seem needlessly complicated, but Han's fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants style makes it fun.
Alden Ehrenreich brings his own flare to the role, and smartly avoids the temptation to imitate.
Star Wars fans will get the most out of this prequel with its many references and in-jokes, such as how Han got his last name, but casual cinema-goers will still be able to follow the story.
Humorous, fast-paced and spirited, Solo: A Star Wars Story is one entertaining space Western.
Solo: A Star Wars story opens in cinemas on Thursday.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Stars: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Carke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau.
Director: Ron Howard
Verdict: 3 stars