Solo A Star Wars Story movie cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Jonas Suotamo, Paul Bettany
Solo A Star Wars Story movie director: Ron Howard
Solo A Star Wars Story movie rating: 2.5 stars
If you, like me, have lost count of the dizzying number of spin-offs and off-shoots of the Star Wars saga, and couldn’t be bothered about the order in which they appear, you will watch Solo only for the fresh high-jinks on display in that galaxy far far away.
My ‘freshness’ meter for the Hans Solo back-story is hovering just at the halfway mark, with the familiar jostling with the new in equal parts: there are the ships chasing each other’s tails in space, there are the outposts filled with all kinds of creatures with spouts and snouts, and there are the conflicts set up between the Empire and its enemies. And there are a bunch of characters drawn with some degree of spunk and detail to keep us interested.
The young Hans (Ehrenreich) and his love Qi’ra (Clarke) are desperate to get off the no-hoper world of Corellia. He wants to stretch his wings and become a pilot; she just wants to be with him. Their adventures take them to distant parts, him to get hooked up to a pair of likeable but dodgy characters (Harrelson and Newton), and luck into constant companion Chewbacca (Suotamo); her to join up, kind of, with the evil Dryden Vos (Bettany).
Part of the action in here is first rate, and the film doesn’t clomp about with metal feet. Which is a good thing. And Ehrenreich and Clarke make a nice pair, even if the former has formidable shoes to fill: how many space cowboys, however deft, can hope to compete with Harrison Ford? And Harrelson comes through, with a few Woody touches.
But despite these flourishes, Solo never quite blows you away. There are moments when you admire the dexterity with which Solo squeezes by yet another fast-closing dark star, or out-runs yet another fizzy missile, and then you are back to looking for something new. As a character says wryly: people are predictable.
Some movies can be too.