Solo: A Star Wars Story ★★★★

I got the impression, when Lord and Miller were removed from directorial duties for Solo, that most people were concerned along the lines of not getting to see what vision they came up with for this.

I agreed with that to a certain extent, but I think most overlooked the fact that they got Ron Howard to direct it instead. A bit like Mick Jagger pulling out of a Stones concert and being replaced by Ed Sheeran.

Howard has been of no real interest for about 25 years and what was looking like another disposable Star Wars off-shoot after the half-decent but pointless Rogue One didn't really seem to have much of a chance to be even slightly interesting. But what a surprise the end result is on a couple of fronts.

Howard shows a flair for fast-moving and entertainingly ludicrous action adventure that he hasn't shown since Willow, almost giving me hope for whatever he chooses to do in the future. That is if the penny drops and he realises that maybe he should do more of this sort of thing. We always need more brainless action films after all.

It felt to me as though lessons were learnt from Rogue One as well. Focusing very strongly on characters we were never going to see again, and therefore should not care one jot about, it single-mindedly shot for one story strand. It put all its eggs in one basket and really offered nothing on the fringes that connected to anything of interest or significance within the Star Wars universe. It also slowed to a snail's pace too frequently.

Solo starts fast and stays fast right the way through. It's less interested in little cameos and nods-and-winks (although there are a few of those still) and more on being just a rollicking good actioner. Which it is. The train scene is already arguably one of the finest set piece scenes in the entire franchise and I don't think anything has matched it so far this year in anything that's been released. It's almost a shame it's not in one of the main narrative films.

It also actually provides some interesting background to Solo, Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian, both individually and how their relationships developed. It complements rather than compromises. It also flirts with quite possibly upsetting those fanboys who piss their y-fronts whenever somebody dares to provide a darkened background to any of the heroes in this film, giving Solo a past where he briefly fought for the Empire.

I don't think it matters at all if these off-shoots are essential or not, really. In a way they can't be. The main players in the central Star Wars narrative are so well developed by now that there's little or no chance of complicating their histories with these Disney money-milkers. I didn't really care what Disney chose to do with the franchise, in a way. I had my Star Wars films, and if everything that they did after they took over turned out to be shit, so be it. I still had the memories.

I don't personally doubt that films like Solo have been produced to put more money in the Mousedom, first and foremost. But the film quality has been a delightful surprise to me and I'm really pleased for the generation of kids, to which my eldest daughter belongs, HAVE been so good. Because these are their Star Wars films. They're not mine or anyone else's from my generation who grew up with the series.

They belong to the kids and they always have. I'm just happy to come along for the ride, especially so if things continue to be as enjoyable as this.

Steve G liked this review