Solo: A Star Wars Story is a Fun, Charming Addition to the Galaxy
When it was first announced that the Star Wars franchise would be continuing an indefinite series of films, several eyebrows were skeptically raised. Could Lucasfilm mine enough material from this galaxy to make so many new films? While the franchise’s latest installment, Solo: A Star Wars Story, will certainly be greeted with similar skepticism, it proves as an excellent example of what the new saga could look like: a fun, genre-loving film with humor and a lot of charm.
Set several years before A New Hope, Solo follows a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich), who escapes his crime-ridden planet by joining the Empire with dreams of becoming a pilot. Those aspirations are dashed by the unfeeling government, but he soon finds a small team of thieves (led by the swaggering Tobias Beckett, played by Woody Harrelson) and eagerly joins them on their next big score. But when the job goes awry, thanks to the pirate Enfys Nest, Solo and his new team must pull off an even deadlier heist or face the wrath of their employer, the ruthless crime lord, Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). Along the way, Solo finds a new brother-in-arms in the escapes Wookiee slave Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), recruits the charming gambler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), and meets the ship of his dreams, the Millennium Falcon.
Solo creates a fast-paced, fun space western for the franchise, fully embracing the humor of Han Solo, while opening the world wider for examination. Delving into the dark, crime-filled underbelly of the Star Wars universe, Solo explores the moral ambiguity of the world, which previously was often divided between a resolute dark side and light side. And for the first time since the franchise was renewed in 2015, I felt as though the franchise had the legs it needed to last. As with most franchises nowadays, Star Wars is hoping to follow the model set down by its Marvel brethren and produce (at least) one film a year, for the time being switching between “Saga” films (following the storylines started by the original series in 1977) and anthology-styled “Stories,” designed to explore the universe and flesh out the characters and worlds we’ve known for so long.
While Ehrenreich may not be pitch perfect in his Harrison Ford impression, he embodies the character in so many more ways than just an imitation. He’s thankfully his own version of the iconic character, smooth-talking and proud but with a code of morals that somehow doesn’t contradict his criminal behavior. Many other actors get their chances at scene-stealing, perhaps none more than Glover as another iconic Star Wars character Lando, who actually does pull off a quite good Billy Dee Williams voice and shows some genuine humanity in his unconventional relationship with his droid first mate, L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge).
With plenty of fun action scenes (including a fan’s dream: the infamous Kessel Run), some interesting twists, and a character cameo worthy of a sequel, I can only hope that further installments to the ever-expanding universe are able to follow suit and deliver the heart and imagination that the original trilogy was known for. Solo: A Star Wars Story is now playing in theaters everywhere. You can check out The Healthy Mouse’s coverage of interviews with the Solo cast here.