You know how this goes.
And with that intro first made famous in 1977 Harrison Ford stepped onto movie screens and into the hearts of audiences as Han Solo, the overconfident smuggler pilot with the pompous sneer and an attitude to match.
Ford’s rugged good looks and playful demeanor have not only won over “Star Wars” fans since “A New Hope” but essentially defined his character (and, y’know… that Indiana Jones guy).
I mean, when you hear the name Han Solo, the image that comes to mind is that of Ford, right?
As such, creating a Han Solo prequel with someone other than Ford in the legendary role seemed like an unimaginable undertaking. And honestly, I had my reservations.
But when I found out that “Solo: A Star Wars Story” was being directed by Ron Howard, I quickly became more curious than concerned. I mean, who better than Ford’s “American Graffiti” co-star to captain the ship and try to help us put a new face to the revered name.
As (the new) Han (Alden Ehrenreich – who?) himself assures: “I’ve got a really good feeling about this.”
For decades, everything we didn’t know about the character was just accepted.
But over the course of 135 minutes we learn the origin of everything we’ve probably never actually wondered about Han Solo – where the name came from; how he met Chewbacca (Joonas Suotama); the acquisition of that DL-44 blaster pistol; his love/hate relationship (“I know”) with Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover); how he ultimately will become (or, because of the timeline here, how he became) a part of the “Star Wars” saga.
We see familiar (and iconic) images, characters, and costumes; we hear familiar phrases, sounds, and names.
And keeping with the “Star Wars” tradition, music and/or sound effects accompany every second of this story (except for literally two, and that’s by design). It’s a genius technique that not only adds tension and excitement to each scene but also engages our senses throughout.
Ehrenreich looks the part; he’s got the cool hair and the sideburns, and much to my relief he eases into the Solo smirk, the sarcasm, and the cockiness we’ve come to know and love from this character.
Everything else will fall into place before this flick is over, and after a while you’ll no longer care to even make comparisons between the new Han and the old.
Let’s talk about Mr. Calrissian, shall we? The only thing more appealing than Lando’s fashion sense, flashy smile, and chill demeanor is that savvy glint in his eye. You know the one I mean.
Donald Glover nails all of that so epically, radiating the same cool smoothness that Billy Dee Williams harnessed to breathe life into this gambler. Glover’s Lando pretty much steals the show here, with just his presence alone; he really should have his own origin story (hint, hint).
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” maintains a sentimental connection to the “Star Wars” saga while emanating an altogether fresh vibe, with parts of it looking a little like “Mad Max” and other parts feeling a bit James Bond-like. But all of it has that “galaxy far, far away” quality. I’ll take that!
Is “Solo” a necessary cog in the machine that is “Star Wars”? Probably not.
But watching the puzzle of this smuggler’s early life piece itself together sure is a fun way to fill in the background of a character that has proven to be a favorite for decades.
And Alden Ehrenreich isn’t Harrison Ford, nor does he try to be. But as a young Han Solo he’ll do just fine.
You have just enjoyed the insights of Movie Addict Mel, a cinema dork and conversational writer. Follow her on Twitter @movieaddictmel, and “like” her Facebook page www.facebook.com/movieaddictmel. You also can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.