Smartasses have been gunning for Solo: A Star Wars Story for months. Not without reason, admittedly. First, the idea of any other actor trying to fill the shoes and match the swagger of the young Harrison Ford? That’s a fool’s errand, right there. The rumors that an acting coach was brought in to assist the performance of the newly crowned Han, Alden Ehrenreich, the jettisoning of directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller months into filming, the hiring of Ron Howard to finish the job? Call in the Stormtroopers, Star Wars fans—we may have another Rogue One on our hands.
You want a creepy, sexy, purry-voiced, dangerous villain? There’s Dryden Vos, played by the indispensable Paul Bettany with a dash of the playful, self-satisfied Claude Rains of Casablanca and Notorious. How about complicated romance, with a splash of the forbidden and impossible? This movie gives us at least two of those, one for Han involving Qi’ra—the movie’s affectionate nod to Casablanca heroine Ilsa Lund, or Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark—played by Emilia Clark with spunk, smoky allure and ambiguous hints of dark danger. Lando Calrissian (smoothly and suggestively acted by Donald Glover), too, has his intriguing, tricky relationship with a feminist, emotionally attuned droid L3-37 (voiced by the terrific Phoebe Waller-Bridge).
But the movie soars or crash-lands on the casting of the title role. Look, from a visual and aural standpoint, nobody’s going to confuse Alden Ehrenreich with a young Harrison Ford clone or mere imitator. But this character and actor deserve better than that—and get it. Ehrenreich is a real actor who, with charm and cockiness, conjures up a bright-eyed, big-hearted, lovable Han, a street kid doing what he needs to do to survive. He's Han long before the cynicism and smugness set in.
Ron Howard, and everyone involved with Solo: A Star Wars Story, have gone and made Star Wars movies fun again.
So does director Ron Howard, for whom, despite the unenviable odds stacked against him, this is a major score—the sharpest, most light-footed, zingiest work he’s done in years. He, and everyone involved with Solo: A Star Wars Story, have gone and made Star Wars movies fun again. So sue them.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
- Director Ron Howard and star Alden Ehrenreich deliver the fun back to the franchise
- Change your life, it won't