Han Solo brought cool to the sci-fi genre with his aloof attitude, lack of hesitation to shoot first, and style. It's a character unlike any other before him and led to countless copycats up to Marvel's Star Lord. Through the original Star Wars trilogy we watch as Solo develops from a selfish smuggler out to make a few bucks to becoming a team player who makes sacrifices to help his friends and family until his death at the end of his own son in Force Awakens. Oh crap! Spoilers for Force Awakens... But what was the space rebel without a cause like before the fate of the Galaxy was thrust upon his shoulders?
Solo: A Star Wars Story is what Phantom Menace should have been. A prequel that skips the needless childhood years and jumps right into the formative young adulthood age. Showing a young Solo as the scheming outlaw we already know him as but without all the rough edges fully roughed up yet. Unlike the current offerings in this Disney Star Wars universe, it seems that the writers dipped into the Lucas well of cannon backstory a bit. That is the film is penned by none other than Empire and Jedi writer Lawrence Kasdan and son Johnathan a duo who are both parts responsible for the characters we know and grew up knowing them. Solo feels the most tied to the original Star Wars trilogy in both characters and world. Gone are the annoying jokey-jokes of Last Jedi and back is the familiar world we all fell in love with.
A criticism I have of this film and Rogue One is that the droid technology seems to be more advanced in these films than in Episode IV-VI. I know it's nitpicky but Lando's droid, L3, has the operating system of a sassy woman while 10 years later 3PO is all persnickety and adheres to all requests made of him. Perhaps we simply did not see an independent thinking droid before K2SO and L3 because 3PO simply was not programmed that way but where were all the other droids like K2SO in the original trilogy?!?!?! Okay, sorry. That went on too long.
Beyond that I really enjoyed Solo quite a bit and am excited knowing that Alden Ehrenreich has signed on for two more movies. Now will those be three more Han-centric films or will the films deal with stories set in motion in this film, is yet to be discovered. Whatever the case; if the other two films are on par with this one then it is a trilogy that will be ranked high in the list of Star Wars trilogies.
I'm not going to be delusional and swear up and down that you will love Solo because that might not be true. This will absolutely be a movie that some people will love while others hate, a trend that seems to be following these Disney Star Wars movies. Since Force Awakens, I've been on both sides of it. I really loved Force Awakens but hated Last Jedi while others felt the complete opposite about both. I do believe that a huge complaint will come from the camp of people that cannot get over the fact that Alden Ehrenreich is not Harrison Ford and I understand it but that is not a reason to count the film out as a whole.
Back in 2009 many people praised Chris Pine for having his own take on Capt. Kirk while at the same time also loving what Karl Urban did with his spot on Bones. Ehrenreich manages to do both with his portrayal of Han Solo dancing perfectly on the line of imitation and originality. While he embodies the character he somehow manages to make it his own and if you allow yourself to relax enough and accept this new reality, it is not distracting at all. On the flip side Donald Glover's Lando is spot on, perfect on every level, and steals the scene every time he is on screen with the same charisma and charm that Billy Dee Williams breathed into the character. Obviously Chewbacca is amazing with Joonas Sutamo now taking over the role from the great Peter Meyhew. Chewy and Han's budding friendship is given full respect and is far better than the originally conceived Episode III idea wherein Han was raised by Chewbaca (and idea that thankfully was never fully realized). Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, and Jon Favreau round out the supporting cast of heroes and Paul Bettany plays that part of the villainous Dryden Vos so well you want him to have his own prequel just so we can know what's up with his face.
I refuse to spoil anything in these reviews so I can't dive as deeply as I would like into very specific scenes I love but there is plenty to enjoy, if you allow it. The movie is good, if you let it be. If you can let go of what you don't like about it before you see it, you will enjoy it much more. It's not the best Star Wars movie but it is the best we've had since Force Awakens, if not more so simply for the fact that is hearkens back to the tone and feel of the originals. It's all the best of Lucas's Star Wars with the good parts of Disney's Star Wars.
Let yourself enjoy Solo. You'll be happy you did.