No need to have a bad feeling about this.
For all the issues the production reportedly suffered (original co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were sacked and replaced by Oscar-winner Ron Howard), Solo: A Star Wars Story is a fun and funny prequel, with the sort of old-fashioned chapter storytelling George Lucas might even like—and plenty of throwbacks to the original 1977 film.
After escaping a fascist planet, Han (Alden Ehrenreich) joins the Empire to raise some cash to rescue his captured love, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), who he was forced to leave behind. Along the way he latches onto a gang of thieves headed by Becket (Woody Harrelson), before being nearly killed by “walking carpet” Chewbacca (spoiler alert: they become friends).
Together they attempt to pull off a heist, landing on the wrong side of kingpin Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). In a life-saving deal (reminiscent of Mad Max 2), they agree to steal a batch of “hyper-fuel” for Vos, enlisting the help of one Lando Calrissian (a scene-stealing Donald Glover) and his Millennium Falcon—which fans all know Lando will lose “fair and square.”
Written by Star Wars veteran Lawrence Kasdan and his son, Jonathan, Solo fleshes out a believable backstory for Han, drawing on the bravado and wit (and sex appeal) Harrison Ford so memorably delivered in A New Hope.
In portraying one of cinema’s most-loved characters (who was defined by one of the world’s most-treasured stars) Ehrenreich had his work cut out for him, but has done well capturing Ford’s gung-ho confidence, swagger and mannerisms, while bringing his own charm and ideas to the outing—something Ford encouraged.
“Harrison was awesome,” Ehrenreich, 28, tells WHO of the pair’s meeting at a Santa Monica, Los Angeles aeroplane hangar before filming began. “He basically said, ‘Tell them I told you everything you need to know, but that you can’t tell anyone anything.’
“He was so encouraging and supportive. It was really nice to walk onto the movie knowing I had his blessing.”
The one thing lacking in Solo is Han’s celebrated cynicism and grumpiness, a trait Ford himself brought to his first starring role on his way to becoming one of Hollywood's most bankable leading men. “I was grumpy by nature in those days,” says Ford, who at the time of being cast in A New Hope was a 33-year-old struggling actor who supplemented his income as a carpenter.
In any case, a late twist in Solo could well be the genesis for the curmudgeon Ford embodied so well. And the ending provides opportunities for sequels that may further define the space cowboy who would one day say to Carrie Fisher's Leia, “I’m not in it for you, Princess … I’m in it for the money,” before spectacularly proving himself wrong.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is in cinemas now.