“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is another spinoff that proves to be a worthy and mostly entertaining installment, but it misses the mark of what this franchise delivers. And that’s saying something.
Alden Ehrenreich portrays young Han who starts out as a smuggler and attempts to escape the clutches of a nasty gang that want to enslave him and his girlfriend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke of GoT fame). They get separated and Han decides to join up with the Empire as a distraction.
He joins up, but soon gets expelled for his rebellious behavior and finds himself in the hands of a criminal named Beckett (Woody Harrelson) who takes him under his wing. Beckett and his crew scour the galaxy, searching for some kind of device that will be given to his superior (Paul Bettany). This part is every bit as exciting as it sounds.
What is exciting, however, is the first time we get to meet Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian. He’s clearly one of the bright spots in the movie and we can see more of an echo emulating Billy Dee Williams than we do Ehrenreich channeling Harrison Ford. They still display terrific chemistry.
Ehrenreich attempts to embody the charm, charisma and rascally spirit Ford brought to the character, but oftentimes, it feels like a somewhat pale imitation. Plus, some of his dialogue and plot developments feel routine when they should feel energizing.
There are some great action set pieces involving an octopi-like creature that Solo and crew try to evade and the first half hour or so definitely has some fun special effects that harken back to the days of Lucas.
Besides that, there are more than enough references to coax a smile out of die-hard fans as it sets up the events we know from “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back.”
“Solo” works as escapist entertainment, but it lacks the emotion and heart of the original trilogy. Nevertheless, the force is just strong enough with this one to recommend it.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.