With all the mixed reactions to this movie, I must freely and fervently exclaim, right at the top of this review, that I loved ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’! I didn’t just like it a little or give it a pass because I love the character. I absolutely and unequivocally loved watching this movie, in IMAX, with my son. And I honestly think it’s the best birthday present of a film I’ve gotten in years (my birthday is almost always right on Memorial Day weekend).
Is the movie great? No. Is it one of my favorite ‘Star Wars’ movies? Probably not. I might place it above the first two prequels and ‘Return of the Jedi’ if I had to pick a place holder. It’s not as well told a story and doesn’t hold the emotional resonance that ‘Rogue One’ does, but it makes up for that in other ways. ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, ‘The Last Jedi’, and ‘Revenge of the Sith’ are my personal favorites for reference to my ‘Star Wars’ taste buds. I typically prefer my galaxy far, far away to be a bit more of a moving experience.
Yet, I cannot deny that I was up in my chair and smiling for most of the 135 minute running time of ‘Solo’. It’s just a blast of a movie. From minute one, you are thrown into the driver seat with Han (Alden Ehrenreich making this character his own) and rushed through the streets of Corellia. With his beautiful girlfriend Q’ira (Emilia Clarke) by his side, Han is trying to escape a pretty ruthless gang and find a way to show he is the best pilot in the galaxy. Well, things don’t go exactly as planned. So, he ends up joining a band of thieves to try and make things right.
It’s at this point where we begin to meet iconic characters like Chewie and Lando (a show stealing Donald Glover). We also get some great new characters in the band of thieves like Woody Harrelson’s Beckett and a droid named L3-37. All of which provide the right amount of swagger, double crossing, romance, and comedy to drive the movie along. We also get some pretty wonderfully staged action sequences (the train heist is particularly fantastic) and some of the best music in the ‘Star Wars’ universe. Seriously, John Powell’s sweet strings and John Williams soaring horns are a match made in a galaxy far, far away!
Most importantly, we finally get to see what in the world was meant for the last 40 years by Han making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. Which is quite a rousing experience of excitement and visual splendor. Not to mention, it’s my favorite sequence in a movie filled with memorable sequences. Ron Howard has managed to step in last minute and deliver a blast of a movie! This story may not mean much in the larger scheme of things, but boy would I like to see more. That’s all you can ask for from a franchise film. That and a light speed blast of good fun!