The Force re-awakens: Rashid Irani reviews Solo: A Star Wars Story
It’s been 41 years, but this epic sci-fi saga remains one of the most successful franchises in film history.
In this second spin-off adventure (following Rogue One… in 2016), a young new actor, Alden Ehrenreich, steps into the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon in place of Harrison Ford, who had owned the role since 1977.
We follow him as he flees his home planet in pursuit of his lady love (Emilia Clarke). Embarking on a series of interplanetary missions as a smuggler, Solo meets his future Wookiee cohort Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and teams up with a band of career criminals led by a notorious mercenary (Woody Harrelson).
The film has had a troubled production history. Phil Lord and Chris Miller were divested of directorial duties after they had already shot substantial portions of the film. (Incidentally, the protracted opening scenes set in a dystopian cityscape are so dimly lit that it is often difficult to figure out what’s going on.)
Assigned as their replacement, Ron Howard (Rush, Frost/Nixon, Apollo 13) brings his high-energy style to the proceedings. The script by father-son duo Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan is a canny cross between a Western and a heist caper, replete with twists and turns.
Maintaining a fine balance of action and humour, Howard also manages to adroitly juggle a vast number of new characters, among them a delightful droid companion (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge) who when asked if he needs anything replies, “Equal rights”.
Overall Solo… leaves one yearning for further exploits, in that galaxy far, far away…