Die hard Star Wars fans have had a tough go of it. The Disney owned Star Wars has been a financial success, but it hasn't done much to win the hearts of it's loyal fan base. In fact, it has been the opposite. Most people seem to think that they only make these for the guaranteed money. They are not wrong. They are not totally right either. The problem has been the fans need to decide what they want. The biggest criticism of The Force Awakens was the fact that it was pretty much a copy of a New Hope. Rogue One was a great movie that fans didn't even know they wanted or needed. What came next was the worst thing for the franchise. The Last Jedi. This isn't about that. This is the story of a young Han Solo. Let's start there.
We meet a younger version of the lovable scoundrel on the streets of Corellia. He is trying to buy a way off world and out of the criminal underworld for him and his friend/girlfriend. Things go wrong, he joins the empire, flees the empire, joins up with criminals, and meets some well known friends ten years prior to the rebellion.
The cast works for what it is. Alden Edenreich is now Han Solo. He is tasked with the nearly impossible. Don't mimic Harrison Ford, but don't be so different that we don't recognize the character. He does alright. It takes a minute to get used too, but he plays it well. Emilia Clarke is a predictable, but interesting character. Jon Favreau and Thandie Newton have minor, but impactful roles. Paul Bettany is serviceable villain for the story, but he doesn't get much screen time. Phoebe Waller-Bridge lends her voice to one of the best droids to grace the saga, L3-37. She is the first mate to Lando Calrissian.
Donald Glover was made for this role. It is the Lando we expect and a little that we don't . He is the smoothest man in the galaxy and in just enough trouble to make it interesting. There are a few things from him that I wanted to see, but again it is 10-12 years before Empire Strikes Back.
The pacing in the beginning is a little sluggish, but it is fun when it kicks in. Ron Howard basically re-shot a big chunk of the movie. The action scenes seem to just pop up, but they are well done. The train heist is great and we get to understand the Kessel Run! Both of these are fun to see play out. It is a small and somewhat predictable story that connects to a much larger and more familiar universe.
It is a bromance. Chewbacca finally gets his moments to shine and they are fantastic. We always new that he and Han were close, but we finally see where it begins. While fans might not have asked for this, it is fun to see how it began for one of the most well known duos in pop culture history.
The film is good with twists. A few will be called predictable., but a few we didn't see coming. It also does a great job of connecting to the new and old cannon. A few of the Rebels and Clone Wars might go over the casual movie fan, but will be loved by the hardcore. We get character mentions and a cameo that had the audience with me gasping. We learn more about what we already knew. We get some great action and more than a few iconic moments. The moment that Han and Chewie fly the Falcon for the first time is goose bump worthy.
The Last Jedi had the hopes of fans at an all time high and then did a great job of taking a giant crap all over them. It was something that never felt like a Star Wars movie. It also divided a fan base that was loyal for over 30 years. That isn't easy to do. A few praised it for taking chances, but most did not. This is a franchise that you don';t take chances with. There are expectations to be met. While Solo has it's flaws, it feels more like Star Wars than that Rian Johnson abomination ever did. It is an almost by the numbers Star Wars movie. It starts slow, but finishes strong. A good cast. A decent story. A side of nostalgia. Overall worth climbing aboard for a jump to light speed.