Solo: A Star Wars Story

May 23, 2018

To be enjoyed in a light-filled summer.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Grade: B

Director: Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind)

Screenplay: Jonathan Kasdan (The First Time), Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill) Based on characters created by George Lucas

Cast: Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar), Emilia Clarke (Dom Hemingway)

Rating: PG-13

Runtime: 2 hr 15 min

by John DeSando

“Let me give you some advice. Assume everyone will betray you. And you will never be disappointed.” Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson)

Just when you thought you had your fill of summer heroes, especially the sci-fi kind, along comes Solo:  A Star Wars Story, to let you know there is room for one more. Han Solo, arguably the most beloved Star Wars character outside of Princess Leia, gets an early handsome face from Alden Ehrenreich, an actor with a  Jack Nicholson bad-boy voice and a smile somewhere between Dennis Quaid’s and Nicholson’s.

As for Tobias Beckett, mercenary disguised as a soldier, the above quote tells it all—even he is not to be trusted. From that premise comes all the delightful naughtiness in the Star Wars galaxy.

The young Solo meets future buddies Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and appropriately in love with Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), like him a child of the mob-dominated ‘hood destined to escape and become a heroine of several faces. The story of these characters’ troubled relations with bad guy Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), as they attempt heists to get them money for their freedom is the template for the story’s action.

Otherwise Solo is a foundation for character, especially Han’s, who will forever be the wisecracking jockey, self-proclaimed best pilot of the galaxy. Prove that he does with aerial combat to rival the best in the Star Wars canon.

His light-hearted quips (“I’ve got a good feeling about this,” he says in extricating from a dire circumstance) are vintage Han. His heart is not far behind his bravery as multiple times he saves others at his own peril. His devotion to saving Qi’ra is the bedrock of his humanity.

Although Dryden is a formidable enemy, he is no Darth Vader. No matter, for this entry into the Star Wars myth is a successful summer adventure, able to stand on its own as enjoyable stuff that need not fit into a fan boy’s obsession with the iconic previous action films imbedded in our cultural imaginations by George Lucas.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is to be enjoyed like a soft summer day.


John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at