Harrison Ford has been immortalised as Han Solo in Star Wars. There have been enough sequels and prequels to the original sci-fi epic, so was another throwback origins story really needed?
Ron Howard directs Solo: The Star Wars Story in brisk conveyor belt fashion, with more attention paid to production design and CGI than to plot or character development. Baby-faced Alden Ehrenreich has the enviable task of playing the young Harrison Ford, and all one can say is that he is still to grow into those iconic boots.
Teen smuggler and ace pilot Han and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clark) want to escape from their home planet of Corellia. She gets left behind, while he lands up as a soldier in war-town Mimban. Here, he meets Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), who will go on to become his faithful sidekick, and gets tangled in the web of a mercenary called Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his gang made up of Val (Thandie Newton) and four-armed Ardennian pilot Rio (voiced by Jon Favreau).
Han reunites with Qi’ra, who now works with the powerful crime boss Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). He sends Beckett and Solo off to replace the priceless coaxium (a Macguffin if ever there was one) they lost in an ill-fated heist. Here, enters the cool gambler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover playing the young Billy Dee Williams), with his robot companion L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe-Waller Bridge), who is more than human for him. He is the proud owner of the star ship Millennium Falcon that is needed for the mission. There are the usual betrayals and changing of alliances and a laying of tracks for future sequels.
There is something too familiar, about this generic space outlaw film; the action sequences are expertly conceived and shot, but go on for far too long, considering there are no surprises in store. Fact is, that after all the spinoffs are considered — and some of them quite good — there is still nothing to beat the original Star Wars made by George Lucas some 40 years ago. Maybe it’s time to stop trying to reinvent the wheel.