Even though the movie is not bereft of issues, mainly a long, unassuming first act, some characters not fully utilised, there are many positives to be taken going by the reviews. Hats off to Chewbacca actor Joonas Suotamo, who discreetly stepped into the franchise to take on more action-intensive scenes for original Chewie actor, Peter Mayhew, in 2016's The Force Awakens and has since assumed the reigns nearly entirely. (Photo by AP) Emilia Clarke poses for photographers upon arrival at the premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story.
But the main event is of course the meeting of Han and Chewie, at this stage 190 years old and condemned in this movie series to a Dorian-Gray-type eternal youth. But the film really kicks into a higher gear - literally as well as figuratively - when Han finally meets one of the great loves in his life, the Millennium Falcon, his face lighting up the first time he settles in behind the controls. Check. The beginning of his frienemy relationship with Lando? There are familiar scenarios, and plenty of moments of fan service - some better executed than others - but with Solo, the filmmakers are interested in actually exploring a key part of Han Solo's character.
It's a film that's battling between two different intentions.
That summer of '77 also gave the world "Star Wars". "Star Wars" spawned sequel after sequel after sequel, and then started spinning off stand-alone pictures.
Three years after having narrowly escaped arrest on his home planet of Corellia (called a "sewer" by one character, and we can see why), Han is still trying to cobble together the funds to buy his own ship so he can return and hopefully rescue Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke), his girlfriend and partner in adventure. Now she's taken up with Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany, somehow ending up with the funniest lines in the movie), a gangster working for Crimson Dawn, an intergalactic crime syndicate.
When Solo plays to its strengths, its an entertaining little adventure - little being the key word here. "Thrilling set-pieces, spine-tingling iconography and a Han/Chewie bromance to savour". That's a lot less enticing a premise than, say, how Anakin Skywalker went from cherub to dark lord, or where has Luke been squatting since 1983? In a way, it's everything I was dreading about a Solo movie.
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But it's not all a smooth ride, cowpokes. According to IndieWire there are no concrete plans just yet, but an official announcement of the future stories can't be too far off. He's Han Solo before he was beaten down and made selfish and cynical by the galaxy. Thandie Newton is cool as his second-in-command and lover Val, but she's more an attitude than a character. Just a caution before we head into hyperdrive. We understand why things turn out the way they do, and this manages to imbue the legend of Han Solo himself with a well-earned deeper meaning.
"Yeah, I mean it was, we haven't seen the film with audiences and that's great right off the bat".
The technical wizardry augments these scenes, as do the musical cues incorporated by composer John Powell, weaving in snippets of John Williams' earlier themes - most notably from "The Empire Strikes Back" - in a way that helps recapture the spirit of the original trilogy, at least during certain key moments.
The rest of the cast is equally strong. I'm just playing women. You know, both the way she looks and her attitude.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy might have confirmed the subject of the next Star Wars spin-off movie at the Cannes Film Festival this week. That said, the movie is at its best when it works towards the stylistic influences of the original film, allowing for the idea that new life can be woven into these well-known characters and histories.