Good, but not great. Being a Star Wars movie, the expectations are overwhelming. Knowing the production problems, you keep looking for which part which director shot. At times, the action was more Star Trek than Star Wars. The beginning is shot in a dark format which I find annoying. Oddly, and as shown by the early audience score, there was no energy from the crowd, unlike the Avengers moviegoers. Putting all that aside, the movie gains momentum in the middle as Ehrenreich seems to grasp his inner Solo. Woody Harrelson and company manages to pull the movie to a satisfactory conclusion. Just don’t expect to have your socks knocked off.
The story opens with Han and his girlfriend, Qi’ra, trying to escape a criminal world. Only Han is able to escape, but he vows to return for the rescue after he becomes the best pilot in the universe. Kicked out of pilot school, he attempts to join Beckett’s gang of thieves but is thrown into a pit to be killed by a beast. He befriends the beast, they escape and Beckett is persuaded to allow them to join his gang. Their attempt to steal fuel for Dryden fails and they offer to try again in order to save themselves from execution. But, they need a fast ship. Who else could supply such a vessel other than Lando Calrissian? His ship? The Millenium Falcon.
Alden Ehrenreich makes a pretty good Solo after a slow start. It’s fair to give him another opportunity to impress. As Beckett, Woody never fails to impress; he is the glue to this flick. Emilia Clarke turns out be be something of a surprise as Qi’ra. Don’t give up on her too early. Donald Glover is Lando; not as cool as Billy Dee Willams, but give him some time, too. Paul Bettany plays Dryden with the appropriate mix of chivalry and villainry.
You will appreciate learning how Solo got his name and how he met Chewbacca. L3-37, a droid with an attitude, is a nice addition. The ending sets the movie up well for a sequel. Expected to make in the neighborhood of $300 million worldwide this weekend, it must make $500 million to break even. I feel certain it will easily make a profit, but the next one needs a lot less drama in the production stage. Star Wars fans will forgive a slight first misstep as you start a spinoff, but they will not be so forgiving the next time. Will Ron Howard be back to direct again? It was unfair to expect him to hit one out of the park when he had to pick up someone else’s mess. Still, a triple ain’t all bad.