Solo: A Star Wars Story ***
Solo: A Star Wars Story certainly does that. Want to know the origin of that surname? Check. Want to find out how he meets Chewbacca? Check. Want to see how he wins the Millennium Falcon? Check. Want a plot built around a throw-away line of dialogue in the original film? Double check. Want to find out why Jabba the Hutt puts a price on his head? Okay, maybe it holds something back for the next instalment. But the point is, in a film that also shows why Han always, always shoots first, there’s really not much to complain about here.
Even the casting is fine. Alden Ehrenreich does a fair job of capturing the spirit of Solo without doing a slavish impression of Ford, embracing the cocky attitude and the wry sense of humour to play the self-styled scoundrel whose reluctance to admit he’s the good guy doesn’t stop his heroism shining through. He’s complimented by man of the moment Donald Glover, who delivers the film’s real star turn as the roguish, licentious Lando Calrissian.
Story-wise, it’s essentially an action-packed heist film, with set-pieces that echo sequences from the original trilogy (especially The Empire Strikes Back) mixed in with daring escapades anew, all designed, like the aforementioned Rogue One, to join the dots between hitherto unexplored story points in the saga’s over-arching mythology.
If if offers nothing new, it does what it does with craft and skill. It’s the cinematic equivalent — to paraphrase one character — of a comforting hug from a Wookiee.