Where it all began for one of Star Wars greatest characters. Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich – Blue Jasmin) and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke – Terminator Genisys) are the best of friends, yet with destinies that are apparently set to diverge. As the story unfolds in the all too familiar universe, Han meets his future copilot, Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo – Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), encounters the not so savoury Beckett (Woody Harrelson – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, War for the Planet of the Apes), and non-other than Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover – Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Martian).
A talented cast, breathing life into younger versions of characters we know so well. And behind the cameras, Solo is directed by Ron Howard.
Being a side-story to the main Star Wars universe, Solo feeds much character and story background to the viewer. Being a bit less space-battle heavy, and more character driven than what one may be used to, it is great to see the origins, both the good and bad sides, of Han Solo.
Being in the past, to the main Star Wars universe, the film fills in a few gaps to the history we’ve all known for decades, and adds some trivia one would never expect. There is also a sizeable chunk of humour thrown in, adding brevity to some of the more tense scenes, in the form of quips from characters, the developing inter-personal relationships, and who could forget the droids, this time in the guise of L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge).
A character in itself, yes, the Millennium Falcon is here, with the film adding a touch to the history of “the fastest hunk of junk in galaxy”.
With multiple films set in the same universe, studios are hard pressed to keep expanding, while not alienating those who love the familiar. Solo pulls this off with aplomb, with a few scenes feeling like homages, yet just as one realises the reference, things are either ramped up and go so way behind what might be expected, or they are turned on their head, using expectation as a red herring and taking the scene or story in a totally different direction, as the plot moves between fast paced twists and turns, to a more slow dramatic meander.
Solo: A Star Wars story is fun. It’s a cinematic delight, that sure to appeal to both fans of the Star Wars films, or the casual viewer. And while prior knowledge of the other films will stand one in good stead, the film would not leave a new viewer too lost.
Being a film that is heavy on visual effects, small detail, and always one for pushing the envelope of sound design, be sure to see this one in a cinema that is both correctly equipped and staffed to show the film in all its galactic glory. All too many cinemas in South Africa do not have the ability nor the inclination to do the film justice, being far too dark, using incorrect picture aspect ratios, and having speakers in the cinema that are faulty. Given the exorbitant prices one pays for a movie ticket, this is pathetic. Do not let these people put profit ahead of your movie enjoyment. It’s Star Wars. Demand you get to see it correctly, or your money back.
Solo: A Star Wars Story opens 25 May 2018, in South African cinemas. Booking are open.