Ever wonder where the classic Star Wars character Han Solo came from? When he met his best friend and lifelong companion Chewbacca? How he obtained his famous ship the Millennium Falcon? Probably not, unless you are an uber-Star Wars nerd like me. But Disney thought that there was enough interest in these things, and to be fair, the franchise is usually box office gold. Who does not want money? Thus we get Solo: A Star Wars Story.
There is a very arcane, trivial fact about Han Solo: if you look at his pants, they have these dotted stripes that run up the outside of the legs. These are known as Corellian bloodstripes. See? I told you I am an uber-Star Wars nerd. Anyway, they refer to the planet Solo is from, Corellia, and that is where Solo: A Star Wars Story starts. Young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) is part of a street gang there, but he dreams of getting himself and his girlfriend, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), off world and into the stars. Yet just when they are on the cusp of making good their escape, Qi’ra is recaptured and Solo joins the Imperial Academy to become a pilot. Instead of becoming just another foot-soldier for the Empire (though he ends up being one anyway for a short period), he eventually encounters Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his crew. He convinces them to take him and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), who he rescued from Imperial imprisonment, with them on their next job. This plan also goes awry when the shipment of coaxium (starship fuel, basically) they were meant to steal gets semi-hijacked quite literally out from under them. Needing to satisfy the gangster they were contracted by, Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), they agree to go to Kessel in order to replace the coaxium they lost. In order to get there, they employ the help of Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and his much newer looking (compared to later movies) Millennium Falcon. Though it does not exactly go according to plan, they manage to retrieve the coaxium and make it back to Vos. That is where the double-crossing begins. Beckett attempts to cut Solo out of the deal they had made with Vos, though Solo had already agreed to give the fuel to a rebel band, led by Enfys Nest (Erin Kellyman), that had been oppressed by Vos’ gang. Beckett dies in a shoot out with Solo, and Solo and Chewbacca head off to finally win the Millennium Falcon from Calrissian once and for all. For the rest, you will have to watch other movies.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is another of the new Star Wars films that people are generally lukewarm on. Again, I find this reaction puzzling. I suppose it was not all that necessary to have this movie in the first place, but that does not mean it was without any kind of fun, genuine Star Wars moments. If you like cinematic Easter eggs, this is the film for you. There are the ones mentioned in the first paragraph, but there are others besides. There is a set of Mandalorian armor in Vos’ receiving chamber. There is the dice that you see in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon in the original trilogy. And Darth Maul (voiced by Sam Witwer) shows up at the end, for some reason. These moments, along with the exciting trek through the space lanes around Kessel, firmly ground this film in the Star Wars universe. I was also fine with Ehrenreich’s performance as the more youthful Han Solo. He had the right delivery and air of confidence to step into the role.
Throughout Star Wars lore, Han Solo is said to have a piratical side to him. While working for galactic criminals did not help that image, Solo is truly a thief with a heart of gold. Solo: A Star Wars Story has a great example of this when he gives the coaxium to Nest and her followers. They were clearly desperate, and Solo’s act amount to a corporal act of mercy. God uses who He uses to effect His will, and they are not always angels.
Given the side of the law on which Solo operates, Solo: A Star Wars story does have some violent moments, which is why it is rated PG-13. Still, they are of the imaginative, science fiction variety, meaning laser battles and the like. As mentioned above, it has some truly exciting Star Wars adventures in it that just might capture the imagination of young and old alike. And more people enjoying Star Wars is good in this reviewers estimation, except for the prequels, of course.