Randy’s Review: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The making of a pilot smuggler

The second stand alone “Star Wars” tale — or “solo” film (pun definitely intended) — “Solo: A Star Wars Story” gives us a peak at the the galaxy’s most beloved scoundrel Han Solo in his criminal formative years. We pick up the story with Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and his girlfriend, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), a pair of young 20-somethings trying to stay alive amidst the criminal underworld of Correlia. The two orphans steal for a local gangster, but when Han double-crosses the boss, he and Qi’ra attempt to flee the planet.

The two become separated and Han, in a moment of desperation, signs up to be a pilot for the Imperial Navy. But instead of flying, he finds himself relegated to infantry battle on the front line. Once again, forced to use his cunning to stay alive, he attempts to join up with a group of thieves — led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) — pretending to be part of the Imperial military. Now called Solo, he once again finds himself at odds with his superiors and is forced to fight his way out of a pit against a hungry beast and earns himself a spot with the thieving group. Solo teams with Beckett; his wife, Val (Thandie Newton); Rio Durant (voiced by Jon Favreau); and another new member of the team — a wookie named Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) to go after a very expensive shipment of coaxium. Beckett was tasked with the job by notorious gangster Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). When the caper is disrupted by Cloud Riders, a group of rogue pirates after the same booty, Beckett and the team must return to face an angry Vos. Solo and Qi’ra are reunited just in time for the face-to-face with Vos who considers killing them all until the most celebrated smuggler in “Star Wars” displays his cockiness and insists they can replace the lost coaxium. Vos charges Qi’ra to accompany the team to ensure they don’t fail.

With their lives forfeit should this mission fail, the group searches out a legendary smuggler, Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), who along with his droid co-pilot, L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), agree to join the group of criminals for a cut and off they go in search of the life-and-death heist.

Much different than many of the other “Star Wars” stories, this character feature is designed to fill in the gaps of Solo’s backstory, introducing us to what molded the vested, shoot-first style of the series reluctant hero. It also gives us a look into the development of relationships with two of Solos most known partners — Chewie and Lando. Glover really brings the young Lando to life and his droid partner is a scene stealer. It’s still hard to see anybody besides Harrison Ford answering to Han Solo but Enrenreich does the character proud with the wide grin and cocky attitude. Clarke is a great new addition and to keep us on our toes, director Ron Howard reintroduces a blast from the past during the latter stages of the film setting up what could turn stand-alone “Solo” into multiple films. Special effects are what we’ve come to expect, “Star Wars” special, so much so actually that what previously caused us to “ooh and “aah” has become common place. A credit to the work done behind the camera.

It’s fun. So sit back, buckle up and get ready for a light speed story addition to the “Star Wars” franchise.

On a scale of 5 popcorn buckets, “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” fills up 3 1/2 tasty tubs with the same seasoned corn you’ve come to expect from your “Star Wars” stories. Fun, fantasy, sci-fi fun with your favorite rogue scoundrel as he looks to establish himself as the greatest pilot and smuggler in the galaxy. MPAA rating: PG-13. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes. This film was reviewed at Southpark 7 Theatres in Spencer.