Travel with me to a galaxy far, far away. To a time that was a long time ago as we expand the Star Wars universe as we get the origin story for the beloved character Han Solo in the new film "Solo: A Star Wars Story" from director Ron Howard.
Early in the Star Wars timeline, we are greeted by a young Han (Alden Ehrenreich), who simply dreams of becoming a pilot. But not just any pilot — the best pilot around. He acquires knowledge and flight skills by joining the Imperial forces and hones his craft.
While on a mission, he comes across a criminal element led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson). With a need for another man, Beckett's team welcomes Han and so begins Han's life as a smuggler.
Along the way we meet a young Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), a nearly 200 years young Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and our hero's love interest Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke). Each of these characters helps to shape the Han all of us know.
See how Han was introduced to the Millennium Falcon and how he came to eventually possess the iconic ship. It's all of the life that molded the Han Solo we witnessed onscreen starting with "Star Wars: A New Hope."
Oh, and did I mention we do get to see that record-breaking Kessel run that is seemingly brought up in every film?
As a film that has big shoes to fill, Solo holds its own. Ehrenreich looks like a young Harrison Ford (our beloved original Han) and carries the attitude he needs to be believable.
Cocky and confident, Ehrenreich owns the screen when given the chance. By his side for much of the movie, Harrelson brings his wealth of experience to create a character you love, then hate, then love.
The real scene stealer is Clarke, continuing Star Wars' history of strong female characters. Clarke's Qi'ra knows what she wants and is unapologetic about how she gets it. Nothing and no one will stand in her way.
There will be those who don't like this film simply because it is fairly safe and by the numbers. It is something that will please the majority of the crowd and find its way in the summer marketplace.
Where do we go from here?
Outside of the original films, the possibilities are endless, the characters are endless and we can even go beyond the core to keep Star Wars front and center for years to come. As long as the quality is there, I won't tire of the ride. Solo isn't alone for this ride, and is able to smuggle a content look out of this critic.
Paul's Grade: B
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