The critics have delivered their verdicts on Solo: A Star Wars Story.
The origin story of rebel pilot Han Solo, played by Alden Ehrenreich, premiered in Los Angeles last week and received a glittering screening at the Cannes film festival on Tuesday.
While most reviews refer to the behind-the-scenes tumult that resulted in original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miler exiting and Ron Howard stepping in, the general consensus is widely positive.
US trade publication Variety said: “The most important thing to note about Solo: A Star Wars Story is that, in spite of its widely-publicised behind-the-scenes turmoil, culminating with the replacement of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller with Ron Howard several months into shooting, the film is not the disaster its production history might suggest.
“In fact, it’s not even close. Though burdened with a slow start and enough thirsty fan-service to power Comic-Con’s Hall H for a decade, it has a kicky, kinetic heist movie at its heart, and its action sequences are machine-tooled spectacles of the first order.”
While reports had swirled that Ehrenreich, who takes on the role made famous by Harrison Ford, was struggling with the role, most reviewers gave him a thumbs up.
The Guardian praised the film’s “terrific ensemble cast-dynamic and an effortless channelling of the spirit of Episodes IV to VI”.
The review adds: “Solo: A Star Wars Story moreover has a glorious origin myth meet-cute to set up one of cinema’s greatest bromances: the stoic wookiee Chewbacca and the insolently handsome freebooting rebel pilot Han Solo – and Alden Ehrenreich absolutely crushes the role to powder, swaggeringly reviving the memory of the young Harrison Ford’s romantic gallantry.
“And there’s another meet-cute, come to think of it: the love that flowers between man and machine, between the reckless pilot and the sleekly iconic Millennium Falcon.”
Film magazine Empire said: “The good news is that Solo doesn’t feel overly compromised or noticeably stymied by its production snafus. It’s a slick, swift-footed adventure which plays like a planet-hopping heist movie, and one which glides a long way on the charm of its leading man.”
It added: “Ultimately, this is a different kind of Star Wars film to any that have gone before, with only hints of the main saga’s bigger fate-of-the-galaxy picture.
“And while that means the story lacks the depth some might crave, it still offers plenty of fun, and (impressively for a prequel) the odd surprise along the way. Punch it, Chewie.”
Trade magazine The Hollywood Reporter also offered a positive verdict, writing: “Howard, who took over the reins from original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller some five months into shooting (the original team departed over creative differences), gets plenty of entertaining mileage out of Han Solo & Co’s formative years, even though he never quite manages to launch the Millennium Falcon into hyperdrive.
“Despite the intermittent lags, the production proves to be more than a salvage operation thanks mainly to those engagingly choreographed performances, led by an irresistibly charismatic title turn from Alden Ehrenreich who ultimately claims Solo as his own even if he doesn’t entirely manage to convince us he’s Harrison Ford.
“Although the end result will not likely find itself occupying an upper berth in the Star Wars movie pantheon, there’s enough here to satisfy the fan base and give Disney a very strong turnout (it received its Cannes premiere on Tuesday) when it opens Memorial Day weekend.”
Vanity Fair said Solo is likely not the movie Lord And Miller would have made, but said Howard’s version “knows its place”.
The magazine adds: “Whereas Rogue One tried to convince us it was an effective war movie (which I still don’t buy; are war movies usually so boring?) Solo guesses, rightly, that what’s being requested of it is pure pleasure.
“The movie doubles down on that old Star Wars trick of sneaking in personality around the margins of its more staid plot objectives; the action scenes are, reliably, as much about wisecracks as they are about the action.”
Solo: A Star Wars Story is released in UK cinemas on May 24.