Solo: A Star Wars Story review round-up: 'It's pure fan service'

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"You think a lead in a movie is going to be a weak woman?".

Star Wars fans thought that the Han Solo prequel movie would be a disaster especially after the director duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller were replaced by Ron Howard. Yet, the most important answer given in the film is how Han Solo did the Kessel run in under 12 parsecs - a thrilling sequence that functions as the movie's centerpiece. The Millennium Falcon coming into his possession?

Solo: A Star Wars Story starts out with a young Han and his desperate desire to become a pilot and escape his home world with the girl he loves.

It's a film that's battling between two different intentions.

The most recent film in the "Star Wars" series, "The Last Jedi", introduced Vietnamese-American Kelly Marie Tran as engineer Rose Tico. We might be getting a lot more of Donald Glover's Lando Calrissian in the near future. When George Lucas made his three Star Wars prequels, from 1999 to 2005, he managed to garble the continuity so badly that they contradicted the events of the original trilogy. 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. 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).

When Solo plays to its strengths, its an entertaining little adventure - little being the key word here. It is the least epic instalment of the Star Wars franchise. Han Solo. Luke Skywalker.

Donald Glover is a scene-stealer as the young Lando Calrissian in
Donald Glover is a scene-stealer as the young Lando Calrissian in “Solo A Star Wars Story.” | LUCASFILM

More mixed is The Wrap's review, which calls Solo a "so-so" film with "nothing new to say" about Han's development as a character. "It's Casino Royale to Han Solo's James Bond".

The Han here is a lot more hopeful; a lot more chipper. Just a caution before we head into hyperdrive. Since these movies are so dependent on digital enhancement, it's hard to know whom to blame for that: Cinematographer Bradford Young has shot some gorgeous-looking movies, like the somewhat naturalistic space-visitor picture Arrival.

Poor Ehrenreich has been set up to fail by being given an impossible task: to make us forget about Harrison Ford, easily the most iconic action hero in modern cinema. In fact, the movie seems perfectly created to win back those who were upset by the visionary The Last Jedi's devastatingtwists and turns. "There's enough here to satisfy the fan base and give Disney a very strong turnout", he wrote. Harrellson just looks happy to collect a big budget pay-check, and Clarke once again is unable to translate her Game of Thrones on-screen success into any other franchise.

The other strike against the film is that for a not insignificant amount of its running time, the visuals are surprisingly bad. You know, both the way she looks and her attitude.

That's right, following the premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has confirmed/teased that the galaxy's most charming gambler is due to get his time in the spotlight (at long last). That said, the movie is at its best when it works towards the stylistic influences of the original film, allowing for the idea that new life can be woven into these well-known characters and histories.

Entertainment Editor for The Beat covering film, television and the occasional comic book.

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