Disney and Lucasfilms Solo: A Star Wars Story is a throwback adventure into the criminal underworld where Hans Solo first meets up with his young Chewbacca partner and notorious gambler Lando Calrissian. Coming only five months after Star Wars: The Last Jedi, this one does not come out of the gate with anything really over the top considering it is the original spinoff of the beginnings, but it is a fun light ride, as audiences need something, anything, to continue their heightened expectation of new product from the legacy franchise. Continuous anticipation and expectation for more, keep the studios pumping these out and get ready for more. Lucasfilm is developing additional prequel movies on other characters, including Obi-Wan Kenobi (Stephen Daldry is in talks to direct that one but no writers have been chosen yet.) James Manigold is writing and will direct the next one coming, based on Boba Fett, the helmet-over-face bounty hunter and fan favorite. Boba Fett was in the 1980’s Empire Strikes Back and then again in 1983’s Return of the Jedi as a mercenary who brings Hans to crime head Jabba the Hutt. The character’s role was small but grew a cult following.
For Solo: A Star Wars Story, Ron Howard was a nice change as director for a lighter humorous and fun journey. It’s decent escapism for an afternoon as you travel through space, though, despite all that is going on, on the screen, from the chases to the action, the story is somewhat bland. Nothing that is a - OMG - what a film. Howard took over after Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired due to creative differences with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriters Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan five months into shooting.
Solo stars a strong performance by Alden Ehrenreich in the lead role, also giving good performances are Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Paul Bethany and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. In this one Solo meets up with Chewbacca, former basketball player Joonas Suotamo. Beckett is played by criminal Harrelson, Val by Newton, Lando Calrissian played by Glover in the original Billy Dee Williams character, while Bettany is the devious Vos and Rio Durant is voiced by Jon Favreau.
We see Solo join Chewbacca with other misfits and mercenaries trying to stop the villain. The story begins in Solo's teen years on his home planet with girlfriend Qi’ra played by Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones. They travel to the war-torn planet Mimban and once there, he meets up with the gang of mercenaries. There is a 70’s throwback feeling, a sort of return to how the franchise began with its Western space feeling. The film is sluggish at times but the performances are strong (even though you can’t help but think of Harrison Ford throughout. You just have to suspend belief and go with it.) This film may not be one of the best of the series but it definitely will keep you happy for another round.
This Memorial Day weekend, the movie is tracking to open around $130 million to $150 million domestically. The record holder for the top opening on this holiday was $139.8 million for 2007’s Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (not adjusted for inflation.) Worldwide $300 million upwards is expected to come in this weekend. Last Jedi, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: The Force Awakens each opened a year apart in December. No other movie is opening against it nationwide. Deadpool 2, which opened last weekend is its biggest competition.
Solo: The Star Wars Story is rated PG-13 (for sequences of sci-fi action/violence)