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THIS WEEK: Another prequel! The STAR WARS franchise’s “lovable rogue,” Han Solo (Alden BEAUTIFUL CREATURES Ehrenreich), escapes the mean streets of his Corellian home world to meet a mentor (Woody HUNGER GAMES Harrelson), become a pilot smuggler, meet his future co-pilot Chewbacca the Wookie (Joonas STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS/THE LAST JEDI Suotamo), find an old girlfriend (Emilia TERMINATOR GENISYS/GAME OF THRONES Clarke) and make a new friend, Lando Calrissian (Donald SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING Glover), while acquiring the Millennium Falcon and avoiding the wrath of bad guy Dryden Vos (Paul AVENGERS franchise’s Vision Bettany).
Written by Jonathan Kasdan and dad Lawrence (FORCE AWAKENS, EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK) Kasdan. Directed by Ron (DA VINCI CODE trilogy/WILLOW) Howard. Based on characters created by George Lucas. (Duh.)
- Action extravaganza! Right from the start. Land speeder chases, spaceship chases/dogfights, on-foot chases, blaster shoot-outs, hand-to-hand (and other extremities) combat, and so on. Most of any of the three previous STAR WARS flicks.
- Casting decent. The chemistry between new Han and new Chewie works as well as that of the originals. Han and Qi’ra (“Kira”) have chemistry too. Ehrenreich will make the chicks moist and Clarke will make the dudes’ pants tight. Harrelson is always good as a morally ambiguous scoundrel and his girlfriend Val (Thandie WESTWORLD Newton) was good. Bettany is no stranger to subtle meanness. Jon (IRON MAN) Favreau even does a good voice for CG smuggler team member Rio Durant. Glover is a spot-on (and snazzy) Lando, even smoother than Billy Dee Williams, though without the classic handsomeness or beer commercial background. Phoebe Waller-Bridge also shines as the odd-headed feminist/freedom-fighting droid L3-37.
- Great simple “linear” story. No fussy side-plots or fancy sub-plots to get in the way. Just a bunch of fun escalating events and building difficulties. (Kind of like the old story of a guy who needs an item and in order to trade for it, he has to see someone to trade for something else, who tells him he has to get a third item from a different person first, who wants something else that needs to be traded or stolen from somewhere else and so on.)
- Don’t let the above fool ya—there are still the usual SW double-and-triple crosses, shifting and secret alliances and plot twists to keep you on your toes.
- Special effects of course are the best. ILM and companies hit the bullseye as you’d expect. The sets, costumes, makeup, CG, ships and just everything is STAR WARS-level awesome. Big bonus for the original stop-motion chess game on the Falcon. Quite possibly the best train-fight sequence ever filmed.
- Brilliant and fun tie-ins and foreshadowing of classic SW events, characters, plots and even classic lines. (You finally learn the truth behind Han Solo’s first boast.)
- Surprise appearance by a fan-favorite character who hasn’t been seen in years. (Hey, no spoilers, remember?) And it wouldn’t be a Ron Howard film without a cameo from brother Clint!
- Plenty of Solo style humor, Solo-and-Chewie-and-others banter, and a few gag moments. I did laugh out loud several times.
- More diverse-looking characters. And the PC idiots have no gripe here because EVERYONE IS AN ALIEN. There is not a single human being in the movie, so their tired racial whining doesn’t apply.
- More family-friendly than ROGUE-ONE, and a much less depressing ending. Open-ended for sequels.
- Some cool characters bite it, where I was hoping to see them in sequels.
- Young Solo smiles a lot more than he does even when he’s young Harrison Ford. (And Ehrenreich really looks nothing like Ford, who was probably the same age when the original Episode Four was shot.) His life definitely gets rougher as it goes on and beats a lot of those smiles out of him. Something happens to turn good feelings into bad ones.
- Some scenes are shot very dark and some of the droid dialog is hard to understand. As is usual with the franchise, names of characters and planets and groups are tough to distinguish. (I thought “Enfys Nest” was a group called “Infant’s Nest,” but it was one character.) And “Crimson Dawn” sounds too much like an old Schwarzenegger flick.
- SUSPENSION OF DISBELIEF DEPT: Not enough to gripe about. Typical ship-getting-creamed-but-still-flying and “how lucky can you get” nick-in-time stuff in most SW flicks.
- Giant tentacled “maw-monsters” are really nasty.
- It wouldn’t be a Star Wars film without a bar scene full of weird aliens, but this time it’s necessary…where would smugglers hang out and play cards, a space Starbucks?
- No button during or after the credits, but that’s normal for SW movies.
Though not as far-reaching or emotionally-draining (or as long-running) as FORCE AWAKENS OR THE LAST JEDI, this one is just as entertaining. Gotta Definitely more enjoyable than TLJ and ROGUE ONE. Those who thought the others were too copycat or pretentious or whatever should like this especially. No idea why it’s not getting better ratings, but let’s face it, most STAR WARS fanboys and girls (like movie critics) are whiny nerds who aren’t happy unless they’re griping. Screw ’em all and have a blast with SOLO! Buy this piece of franchise history for the extras but see it now. (Don’t bother with 3-D, although IMAX and D-BOX are probably very cool—gotta see it on the big screen before TV.)
P.S.: Speaking of lovable rogues and scoundrels with hearts of gold, how about that Pascale guy drawing you something out of this world? Space ships, monsters, cool heroes, hot alien (or earth) babes, whatever you want, he can make you a star. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed here are not those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, the Crimson Dawn, the Dark Knight, the Orange Morning, the Empire, the Rebellion, the Status Quo or Darth anythings. Bru would like to make his own SW film with Han Brulo, Brubacca, Bruke Skydrinker, Princess LayaMe and Rando Calbeerian!