Anna Beshoar, Staff Writer

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Before Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) met Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker, he was just Han. An orphan from the shipbuilding planet Corellia, and an Imperial trooper. He meets Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), a smuggler, and a Wookiee named Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo). Han and Chewie join Beckett’s crew. Their job: steal valuable cargo and deliver it to Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), head of the crime empire Crimson Dawn. Han discovers that his old friend Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) is working for Vos. The crew needs a ship, and Qi’ra knows just the man. Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) owns a ship called the Millennium Falcon, and a droid named L3-37. The heist turns out to be more complicated than planned, and Solo’s skills, luck and morals are tested as his name is made and story begins.

      Han Solo doesn’t see himself as a good person. But given the choice, he’ll show his true colors as a compassionate person. Qi’ra knows this, and tries to convince Han too, despite a crippling self image. Chewbacca is Han’s right hand Wookiee who will stay by his side for many years to come. Beckett is concerned by Han’s good nature, knowing that mixing it with his line of work will stab him in the back. Lando Calrissian is a flamboyant gambler who never reveals his cards, on and off the table. L3-37 is a fierce advocate for droid rights, full of dry comments, determination, and sass. Vos is an opulent gangster, switching from being a gracious host to a ruthless killer in half a second.

      Aside from Harrison Ford himself, Alden Ehrenreich was probably the best choice to play Han Solo. Emilia Clarke studied at the Drama Centre London and has multiple stage performances. Paul Bettany plays Vision in the Marvel movies. Joonas Suotamo took over the role of Chewbacca from Peter Mayhew, starting with The Force Awakens. Woody Harrelson played a Haymitch in the film adaptations of The Hunger Games saga. Donald Glover has been cast as Simba in the upcoming live action remake of The Lion King. Phoebe Waller-Bridge played L3-37 via motion capture.

     Solo is a Star Wars mix of gangster, western, and action films. There were heists, hostage situations, uprisings, high speed (spaceship) chases, and double crossings. Yet it had elements of comedy woven in. Han is a reckless young man, flying by the seat of his pants and learning the ropes of smuggling. It leads to some pretty funny moments. Lucasfilm seemed to be showing that they could make a good Star Wars movie without a single Jedi. All in all, it was Han Solo’s origin story. Who he was before he joined the Rebellion. We see him meet Chewbacca, Lando, and fly the Millennium Falcon for the first time. We see events that shaped his character. This was a story of self discovery, plain and simple.

     Anyone who loves action, crime, western, or gangster movies would find something to love here. Of course, it was eagerly anticipated among the Star Wars fan community. Wouldn’t recommend to anyone who enjoys tragedy, romance, or nonfiction. MPAA rating: PG-13. My rating? Four stars. The latest in a hopefully long line of fantastic Star Wars spinoffs.