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Solo without Ford? Not so bad after all!

The most quotable, lovable and militant scoundrel in the Galaxy Far, Far Away got his own film. And it’s fantastic.

Han Solo famously said “never tell me the odds” in Empire Strikes Back and this film makes it clear why. The odds have never been in his favour and we’ve seen him wriggle his way out on top every time.

Directed by Ron Howard, the film is essentially a rite-of-passage film with very personal motivations for Solo. Usually in Star Wars, there’s a planet or group to save. Here, Solo is trying to get enough money to get back to his scrapheap home planet and rescue the girl he left behind.

Backed into a corner, Solo enlists in the Empire. There he meets Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his pack of outlaws. After figuring out they can get him out, he scams his way into joining their crew.

Along with Beckett, his pilot, his girlfriend and a familiar Wookiee, Solo takes on a difficult and risky job. His motivation is clearly to get money but you also get the impression he wants to prove to himself (and everyone else) he isn’t just a good-for-nothing boy from a scummy planet.

From there, he learns the hard way about how things work in the war-torn Galaxy and it makes for some interesting watching.

The adversity this film actually went through to actually happen makes it even more of a triumph. Losing its director at such a late stage in production and was essentially rescued by Howard. It still feels cohesive, it still feels consistent and interconnected which were concerns for fans and critics alike. Ron Howard should be applauded for delivering a $250 million film on such a tight deadline after the original directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired with weeks of filming left.

Alarm bells started ringing when rumours circulated that Alden Ehrenreich wasn’t impressing Lucasfilm as Han Solo and apparently even hired an acting coach to follow him around on set. Despite this, Ehrenreich comes across brilliantly in the lead role. Definitely not Harrison Ford, but then again, who is? His energy and charisma shine through and he definitely has the mischievous smile and glint in his eye that Ford’s Solo was so treasured for. His relationships with ever-present Chewbacca and the phenomenal Lando Calrissian stand out as highlights of an overall highly enjoyable film.

Expect to see multi-talented Donald Glover a lot more in coming years. Actor, director, comedian, writer, record producer, singer, songwriter, rapper, DJ – should I go on? The jack of all trades plays Lando, the underworld gambler, retired smuggler and owner of the Millennium Falcon. Amusing and electric, he ticked all the boxes on the Lando Calrissian check-sheet while also filling in a lot of gaps about the character that had left fans wondering since his appearances in the original trilogy. I, and I’m sure plenty of other viewers, would quietly consider him the MVP of the film.

One other thing that stood out to me in Solo was the stunning cinematography. Some stunning and bold visuals and beautiful lighting made the film feel almost like a Western at times. Bradford Young, who was appointed by Lord and Miller, perhaps got lost in the shuffle of controversy surrounding the film but definitely deserves all plaudits coming his way.

I breathed a sigh of relief and joy as the credit rolled and I hadn’t groaned or lost interest. In fact, I was hooked in from the first scene and loved almost every second of the film. A series of fantastic performances and an entertaining plot made for a very gripping and endearing film.

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