Solo: A Star Wars Story

Year: 2018
Directed by: Ron Howard
Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Paul Bettany, Joonas Suotamo, Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Written by Chris Gelderd

In 10 films spanning 41 years, ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ is the first of the franchise that started and ended production under a big black cloud. Original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, wanting to make a “space comedy” were let go just 6 months into production due to creative differences. Acclaimed director Ron Howard came on weeks later to carry the film forward. Following that, extensive re-shoots were carried out to shape the film into the vision Howard and LucasFilm intended.

But before all this happened, the fans and critics were divided. Do we need or even want a film about a young Han Solo, a character immortalised in three films by Harrison Ford. Does the story of how he became the roguish smuggler and pilot with a bounty on his head and a large walking carpet as a friend need to be told? Who will ever be as talented and physically similar like Ford to pull this off? Will this fit into the wider Star Wars timeline or just be totally unique?

These questions never went away, and coupled with the rumours and hear-say and negative views on the production, it’s safe to say ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ has had a mountain to climb just to get where it is today and win over audiences and critics alike.

Well, you can forget the woes about a trouble production and leave your picky questions at home because this space Western is slick, stylish and shows no sign of trouble at all. It’s a fun and light-hearted space adventure, just the sort George Lucas envisioned back in 1977. There is no dark, brooding conflict and mystical power hanging over the story – not to say there isn’t plenty of menace – and there are no Jedi Knights, Force powers and tedious links to the Skywalker story. This is how Han became Solo.

Think of it as a watered down ‘Casino Royale’ for all generations.

From the outset, Alden Ehrenreich had near impossible shoes to fill. Yet to enjoy his performance, we owe it to this talented actor to see he is portraying not Harrison Ford, but Han Solo. A character we know nothing about at this young age. Yes, it’s hard not to look for Ford in him, but if you look BEYOND the man he becomes, you enjoy him all the more for it. Alden bleeds Ford’s mannerisms in subtly, such as his stance, the way he fires his blaster and that dry sense of humour starting to form. He carries the film and proves that he was the right choice to cast.

Emilia Clarke is a little hard to buy into at first, and she only comes to life more in the second half. She may be a talent on the small screen, but somehow her presence on the big screen never leaps at you and she’s just a little forgetful for most of the time, and you don’t buy her relationship with Han as much as you probably should. Paul Bettany is our merciless villain, and while he also is a little glossed over sadly, he commands much of the threat our heroes face in the film and it’s refreshing to NOT be an Imperial officer or a Sith Lord as the bad guy.

Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, equally having a big character to represent like Solo, does a fine job here. He’s smooth, charming and equally proud to look good and fight the good fight. The film could have benefited from more of his friendship with Solo to blossom, because you’re left wondering is this it? Is this the last time they see each other until the frosty reunion of ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ a good 15 or so years later? You probably expected more, but you at least get to understand Lando’s ESB greeting of “Why you slimy, double-crossing, no-good swindler!”

Chewbacca finally comes to life more than ever after six films and he really does what you’d expect from a Wookiee here, in more ways than one. Seeing the beginning and formation of a life-long friendship is wonderful to see, and there is nothing more satisfying than seeing Han and Chewie together doing what they do best. Joonas Suotamo, a more than worthy successor to Peter Mayhew, does a brilliant job.

One of the best performances comes from Woody Harrelson as Beckett; a mentor, gun-slinger, smuggler and outlaw. He’s the one who guides us and Han into the world of crime and also the real dangers that the galaxy throws at you. Harrelson is instantly likeable and really looks the part, spinning those blasters and leading his crew into battle. He’s having a blast, and it shows. It’s clear all the cast are enjoying themselves in these iconic roles and situations, and that makes it easy to invest in to have fun too, but some seem to enter and exit the film quicker than you’d expect.

Characters drive the film, and they are key in making it flow. While the run time is not too hefty, and certainly doesn’t drag, the story stumbles a little in the first act. It tries to find its feet, which may be evidence of the production woes.  Another slight irk is the humour; it’s not silly humour at all but sometimes you get the feeling the script is trying too hard to be funny when it doesn’t need to be. Phoebe Waller-Bridge as droid L3-37 is a highly off-putting and pointless character. When she speaks, the attitude and humour doesn’t seem fit for a Star Wars film. Something about her portrayal and character didn’t sit with me – it certainly wasn’t funny.

Once Howard does establish the story and the tone, it takes off a lot quicker. The story zips to various new planets in a blend of genres – from crime to drama to Western and sci-fi opera – to deliver something that adds nothing new to the timeline, but lets us have some fun out there without the need for Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker or the importance of civil wars being the focus point.

The action is slick and well executed, and the visual effects are spot-on. One bonus is that Howard seems to opt for more practical sets and action over CGI, and that adds to a much more real looking universe. From the slums of Corellia, to the dunes of Savareen and the nightmarish vortex of the Kessel Run, this is Star Wars at its finest, adventure planet-hopping best. It may be hard to adjust to a Star Wars film where Stormtroopers aren’t the main bad guys and the faceless Empire doesn’t do much or you see nothing of the Rebellion, but this is why the film is much braver than it appears.

It takes risks, it forces us to buy into a new idea and wants us to do nothing but enjoy the ride. Han Solo is just warming up and I want to see where he goes from here.

Is this a Star Wars film we needed in the timeline? Not really, but I’m glad we have it because Ron Howard just whetted my appetite for more of this sort of anthology film away from the ‘Episodes’. And on the basis of a certain cameo towards the end, the timeline just got a whole lot spicier!

Chris’ Rating: 

4

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First Reactions to ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ Build Fans’ Excitement

The world premiere of the latest ‘Star Wars’ spin-off, ‘Solo’, took place last night and the buzz this morning from lucky fans and critics who were in attendance finally seems to have built up some excitement amongst fans.

Due to drama behind the scenes, which included the firing or Lord and Miller (who were later replaced by Ron Howard), fans were skeptical that that the end product would meet any of their expectations. Rumours have constantly reared their ugly head over the last few months regarding the state of the film, but if these first reactions are anything to go by, fans can breathe a sigh of relief.

There was plenty said on social media about Ehrenreich when the news broke he was cast as the young Han Solo, but his performance is being hailed as “super impressive” and going as far as to say he was “perfectly cast”.  This kind of reaction will be sure to pique the interest of those stubborn few who would have just preferred a 75 year old Harrison Ford to play the role himself.

As expected, the audience appear to have fallen head over heals for Donald Glover as Lando, and there’s lots of love for his tin-can sidekick, L3, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Early reactions also suggest there are lots of surprises in store for us that Howard and co. have managed to somehow keep top secret – lets just hope no one out there decides to spoil these before its release!

For now, he’s some spoiler free reactions!

Alden Ehrenreich Confirms He’s Signed Up For At Least TWO More Star Wars Films

We’re just one month away from witnessing the Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ – a film surrounded by rumours and drama throughout it’s whole production, including the firing of it’s directors Lord and Miller, who were later replaced by Ron Howard who conducted extensive re-shoots.

In a recent interview with Esquire, Ehrenreich let slip that he has signed on for THREE ‘Star Wars’ films, which we can probably assume will continue to focus on a young Han Solo and his adventures with new found friend, Chewbacca.

He knows what he’s getting into. It’s a deeper commitment than just one movie. Even Ford couldn’t quit after just one. I ask Ehrenreich how many he’s signed up for.

“Three,” he says, then flinches, understanding he may have just created a disturbance in the Force. “I don’t know if that’s officially, uh, public. But—yeah.” 

In the same interview, Ehrenreich also addresses the rumour that an acting coach was brought on to the set to help him with his performance as the young smuggler – a rumour that still has many ‘Star Wars’ fans worried about the end result.

He also insists that the story about Lucasfilm forcing Lord and Miller to bring in an acting coach—later identified as writer- director Maggie Kiley—to work on his performance has been mischaracterized: “She was part of conversations that happened for a couple weeks at one point,”

The interview is a great read and Ehrenreich addresses many of the rumours that have been floating around the internet, including the cast’s reception to the new of Lord and Miller’s firing, and their reaction to Ron Howard’s appointment as director.

Still, excitement for ‘Solo’ still seems very tame as we get closer to it’s release – but personally the latest trailer sparked a little hope inside me that this could actually be an enjoyable ride! If nothing else, I’m excited to see the cast in their respective roles, and most importantly witnessing Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian!

“Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future co-pilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the ‘Star Wars’ saga’s most unlikely heroes”

Directed by: Ron Howard

Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Joonas Suotamo, Paul Bettany, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton

Release Date: May 25th, 2018

New Action Packed ‘Solo: A Star Wars Trailer’ Has Dropped!

“Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future co-pilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the ‘Star Wars’ saga’s most unlikely heroes”

Directed by: Ron Howard

Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Joonas Suotamo, Paul Bettany, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton

Release Date: May 25th, 2018

GMA Debuts First Full Teaser Trailer For ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

“Board the Millennium Falcon and journey to a galaxy far, far away in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’, an all-new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his mighty future co-pilot Chewbacca and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian, in a journey that will set the course of one of the ‘Star Wars’ saga’s most unlikely heroes”

Directed by: Ron Howard

Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Joonas Suotamo, Paul Bettany, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton

Release Date: May 25th, 2018

 

Woody Harrelson Officially On-Board For Han Solo Spin-Off

After rumours spread across the internet last week about Woody Harrelson’s potential involvement in the next Star Wars spin-off,  I’ll admit they got me a little excited and I had my fingers crossed the rumours would be true. Imagine my excitement when I read that Disney have today confirmed that Harrelson has signed on to have a role in the film!

The directors of the spin-off, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, have said “We couldn’t be more excited to work with an artist with as much depth and range as Woody”. Harrelson will be joining the only other confirmed members of the cast Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, and Emilia Clarke. Harrelson is rumoured to be taking on the role of young Han Solo’s mentor. 

Before his journey to a galaxy far far away, Harrelson will be making his directorial debut this month with the first ever live film,  ‘Lost in London’, in which Harrelson will attempt to tell the story of one of his most memorable nights in the city whilst it’s screening live to cinema audiences across the globe. 

The as-yet-untitled ‘Han Solo’ spin-off is scheduled for a 2018 release

Written by Tom Sheffield

Han Solo Spin-Off To Start Filming In February 2017

‘Rogue One’may have only just been released today, but that won’t stop anyone asking the important questions about Lucasfilm’s next Star Wars spin-off, the 2018 scheduled ‘Han Solo’ film.

During the London premiere for ‘Rogue One’, president of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy , was questioned about the Han Solo film from BBC reporter Lizo Mzimba. He asked Kennedy how far on they were with the film, to which she replied “we’re actually very close, we’re going to start shooting in February“. You can watch Mzimbo’s video with Kennedy below. 

So far the only details we know about the Han Solo movie are that it will take place in-between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and young Han Solo will be played by Alden Ehrenreich. Also confirmed to be joining Ehrenreich is Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian and Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke in an as-of-yet unknown role. 

‘Han Solo’ is set for a 2018 release with a date yet to be confirmed.

Written by Tom Sheffield

Wham, Bam, Thank You Han: Is There A Han Solo Trilogy In The Works?

The internet has been ablaze with rumours over the past week that a new ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, centring around a young Han Solo, is in the offing. Breakout star of ‘Hail Caesar’ – Alden Ehrenreich – has already nabbed the role of a young Han in his own spin off ‘Star Wars’ film, and since we’ve been promised a multitude of related films, it would seem logical that Lucasfilm and Disney would want to jump aboard the Han hype-train, should his initial outing prove successful.

The rumour seems to have been substantiated in a report in the NY Daily Times, stating that Ehrenreich has been signed to a deal which includes “at least” three movies, indicating he will either get multiple solo Solo films, or young Han might appear elsewhere throughout the ‘Star Wars’ universe.

Gareth Edwards’ ‘Rogue One’ will kick off a string of stand-alone ‘Star Wars’ adventures away from the main, numbered series, and will be coming to the big screen in December of this year. 

Written by Abbie Eales