Solo: A Star Wars Story (PG-13)

SciFi/Fantasy 135 min. May 25, 2018
By Alan Scherstuhl
In the first season of The Good Place, Ted Danson's avuncular godlike character announces, "I've come to really like frozen yogurt. There's something so human about taking something great and ruining it a little so you can have more of it." It's no slight to Alden Ehrenreich to note that his performance as Han Solo in Ron Howard's Solo: A Star Wars Story is froyo Harrison Ford's ice cream. Anybody's would be. Ehrenreich wisely goes for Ford's essence rather than a direct imitation, and he and the filmmakers play up a boyish naivete, the idea being that we're watching him harden into Hanhood.

Like Rogue One, the other standalone Disney Star Wars film that suffered a famously troubled production, Solo has a just-finish-the-movie quality to it, an uncertainty about the pacing and seriousness of developments in its own story. An early, exhausting heist sequence includes moments of tragedy that get followed too soon by more high adventure and never seem to weigh on the other characters. The look is murky, its compositions undistinguished, and the scenes of action, for the most part, play something like they did in Howard's 2013 Formula One movie Rush, where a yapping British sports announcer -- shades of C3PO! -- had to explain to us every turn of the races. Still, the chief relationships are persuasively sketched, especially between Solo and his wookiee (their meeting is a straight-up highlight) and Solo and his first love, Emilia Clarke's (eventual) femme fatale Qi'ra. The characters sound right, including Donald Glover's Lando Calrissian, but the movie tends to sputter just when it should leap into hyperdrive.
Ron Howard Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo Lawrence and Jon Kasdan Walt Disney Pictures

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