Solo: A Star Wars Story ★★★★

Disney are doing their Star Wars prequels better than Lucas' Star Wars prequels. Solo: A Star Wars Story may have had a troubled production and an underwhelming box-office performance, but for me, it's one of the most enjoyable movies of 2018 so far, pure pulpy fun that feels like an old-school heist movie that doubles as a space western, which is basically everything that a Han Solo origin story should be.

Ron Howard may have been the safe choice to direct, but he brings experience to the table and really handles the film well. It has that connect-the-dots storytelling feel to it that answers several questions - some that may have been better left unanswered as the mystery surrounding Han Solo was one of the more compelling arguments about the character, but you can't help but admire Alden Ehrenreich's performance. He's playing his own version of Han Solo rather than playing Harrison Ford playing Han Solo, and as a result, he shines. I felt like he was an excellent pick for the character especially after watching his turn in Hail Caesar! - and was on board from the moment his casting was announced. Of course nobody can replace Ford, but that doesn't stop Ehrenreich from doing a very good job.

The supporting cast is mostly good. Whilst the casting of Emilia Clarke is a bit of a mixed bag (Another Star Wars movie, another British brunette), as she is inconsistent at the best of times, and Woody Harrelson is fine, but it's Donald Glover who is the real star of the show, making Lando Calrissian his own character and delivering a performance to rival the great Billy Dee Williams. There's a deservingly special mention to Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who really steals the scene as the droid L3-37. Thandie Newton too was good as Val, if a bit underutilised and should have had a much larger role. And that surprise cameo shows that Solo is a nice nod to fans of the Star Wars animated universe. Maybe now we're one step closer to that Ahsoka and Ezra live-action movie? (If you haven't seen The Clone Wars and Rebels you're missing out, especially with Rebels.)

Yes, Solo: A Star Wars Story may be an even bigger fanservice-y movie than Rogue One, which is saying something, and it's definitely time for Star Wars to adopt The Last Jedi approach and break away from what is holding it back and find fresh new ground, but that said, Ron Howard's first venture into the Star Wars universe is a fantastic one. I'm looking forward to revisiting this.

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