'Solo: A Star Wars Story' touches down in Cannes

Lawrence Kim
May 16, 2018

She/it is probably the best "same but different" flourish in all of "Solo", reminiscent of droids past, inevitably, but very much welcome.

Of the new characters, the one who truly shines brightest - and damn near steals the show - is the fiercely independent droid L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), whose acerbic personality and cutting wit is even sharper than Rogue One's K2SO.

I keep harping about "fun" but that's what Solo has that Rogue One and even most of The Last Jedi were lacking. "It just explains how he got his stuff". Determined to make it back to Corellia and rescue her, he enlists in the Imperial Army only to desert and hook up with a band of criminals led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson). The bad guy, crime lord Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), resembles the worst kind of Pierce Brosnan-era "James Bond" villains. Glover's Calrissian sounds like the actor who originally played him, Billy Dee Williams, and has a flawless style. Ehrenreich is no Harrison Ford - who is? - and I couldn't believe that this younger incarnation of the character would ever acquire Ford's gravelly voice.

"The movie doubles down on that old Star Wars trick of sneaking in personality around the margins of its more staid plot objectives; the action scenes are, reliably, as much about wisecracks as they are about the action". But never for a "Star Wars" movie.

A new adventure with the most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy.

Thandie Newton may be a Solo star - but she's celebrating those who have come before her! Unfortunately, things go south and Han gets out but Qi'ra is captured.

They were sentiments echoed by British film magazine Total Film. The script does also- as predicted- contain a number of nearly groan-worthy on-the-nose moments setting up Han's backstory (think a feature-length version of that opening Young Indy sequence from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"), but ultimately it's all in good fun and mostly forgivable.

Every now and then, the far quirkier movie Solo could have been had Philip Lord and Christopher Miller stayed on board slips through (they were fired and replaced by Ron Howard halfway through). Lucasfilm preferred Howard's approach, it seems clear. It's the bare minimum of direction as the score does the heavy lifting rather than injecting an actual personality into this movie.

With so much going on in the "Star Wars" universe since Disney acquired Lucasfilm, there's always a question of when new stand-alone projects will begin bumping into each other or run out of real estate. But the film really kicks into a higher gear - literally as well as figuratively - when Han finally meets one of the great loves in his life, the Millennium Falcon, his face lighting up the first time he settles in behind the controls. Even a Star Wars version of poker plays a significant role. But it's greatest strength is Howard's acumen for big set-pieces that go out of their way to echo the thrilling tropes of John Ford, Sam Peckinpah and other giants of Western cinema. We've also heard from our own Kaila Hale-Stern (who has seen Solo and reviewed it for us) that not only is everything we've heard about Glover's turn as Lando true, but Solo is a pretty fun movie above all else, so it would make sense to capitalize on that and use one of its best components to launch a followup. Despite the strong performance from Ehrenreich and the hint of future adventures to come, I can only hope that this young Solo gets better stories and better direction that play into the character's personality.

Han Solo opens May 25.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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