Published: Thu, May 17, 2018

SOLO Remembers That STAR WARS Movies Can Be Fun

SOLO Remembers That STAR WARS Movies Can Be Fun

It's a fun, unexpectedly bold adventure that reaches edges of the Star Wars galaxy never thought imaginable on the big screen.

Solo: A Star Wars Story opens in New Zealand cinemas on May 24.

The beauty portrays interstellar criminal Val in director Ron Howard's new Han Solo spin-off, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and she donned a stellar couture Vivienne Westwood dress to attend the screening on the French Riviera.

This efficient box-ticking is admirable, to a degree. An opening text note informs us that "it is a lawless time" in the galaxy far, far away, which means anything could happen and does, which makes for a nice change from the usual "blowing up the Death Star" routine.

Daily Telegraph Solo, the latest entry in the Lucasfilm franchise, brings Star Wars back to earth with a Millennium Falcon-rattling bump. But he has grand ambitions. Lawrence Kasdan, Jason McGatlin, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are the executive producers. And heck, there are even some dangling threads that- though one could claim they're technically tied up in existing "Star Wars" movies- actually left me wanting more with this cast, in this time period. But Solo: "A Star Wars Story is what we have right now, and if it's simply an enjoyably well-crafted side story, well, is that really so bad?"

It's also episodic. To be generous, you could say that the choppy structure is true to the roots of Star Wars as an homage to such cliff-hanging Saturday matinees as Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon.

"In a role that demands greatness, he is, in a word, okay", wrote Nick Schager of The Daily Beast, adding that the movie "sacrifices Han Solo's swagger for a bland origin story". And luckily, Solo quickly became compelling as the pieces in young Han (Alden Ehrenreich)'s life start leading toward his inevitable turn from street ruffian to interstellar scoundrel.

Also starring Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, and Paul Bettany, it's out across the United Kingdom on May 24. What this line-up lacks is a proper villain, but the entertainingly smarmy gangster who employs the crew to carry out a "hyper-fuel" heist is named Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). It just explains how he got his stuff. With who knows how many more Star Wars releases planned from now until the end of time, we'll no doubt get those at some point. Relative newcomer Alden Ehrenreich- breakout star of the Coen Brothers' riotous 2016 comedy "Hail, Caesar!"- nails the charmingly free-spirit of the now-iconic Han Solo character without ever succumbing to an attempted impression of the role's forebearer Harrison Ford.

On the other hand, no franchise rakes in more than $42 billion, as Star Wars is estimated to have done since 1977, without being able to keep a good thing going. Since 1977, we have been watching as Luke, Leia and Han have been fighting evil and saving the day (or at least trying to).

It's easier to care about Han, though.

Glover is great in the role, threatening to steal the picture from Ehrenreich, who is more of a vocal match for Ford than he is a physical one. But he's a likeably goofy hero with an irresistible grin and an air of boyish decency.

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