Just like the Star Wars movies before it, I was there at midnight.
The previous midnight screenings of Star Wars movies had seen heaving cinemas filled with cosplayers and excitable fans. Yet, for Solo, a single usher greeted us and the handful of other hopeful fans. Neat, yet understated freebies were handed out and that was it. No fanfare, no buzz of excitement, no amateur cosplayers posing with hordes of fans.
I can’t say I wasn’t worried about Solo, the second stand-alone movie in the Star Wars franchise. It had been plagued (according to the media at least) by creative and directing issues before Ron Howard stepped in. Even that news did little to calm the rumour mill. Whilst Ron was a hugely experienced director, he didn’t seem a good fit for Star Wars, let alone for such a crucial one.
The Last Jedi was hugely divisive and indeed is still being discussed in the internet’s equivalent of Mos Eisley Cantina. The announcement of Solo too split the Star Wars fanbase – was this a backstory that Lucas Films could make better than the stories we had put together in our heads? Could anyone else other than Harrison Ford pull off playing Han Solo? How would Lando’s character fit into 2018? (And so on.)
I attended the movie with fellow Star Wars mega fan and FoodnFilm regular, Dave Clark. We both were surprised how empty the cinema was and indeed, how quietly the film seemed to have slipped into the cinemas. We both feared the worst but hoped for the best (and after all, Rebellions are built on hope).
In short, Solo delivered.
Its look and feel was distinctly Star Wars, the humour was spot on and the movie handled all the crucial elements of Han’s backstory well. Aldren Ehrenreich took a short while to find his feet in the role of Han, but put in a strong enough performance throughout, especially in the latter third of the movie. He is no Harrison Ford, nor did he try to be, but the Solo vibe was there. Donald Glover was born to play Lando, his portrayal was everything you had wanted it to be and more. Harrelson and Clarke played their roles well enough (particularly Woody who just gets better and better with each passing year), but this wasn’t their movie, yet they both ensured that their characters added the additional dimension needed.
L3-37 ensured that droids too were adequately represented. And with a wit and humour that will resonate well with 2018 audiences.
This movie massively over delivered. Yes it lacked the grit of Rogue One, was perhaps a tad predictable and, of course, no one will ever play Han Solo as well as Harrison Ford. But I’m being a critic needlessly here. Solo had me smiling from start to finish, it made me laugh when it tried to and it revealed Han’s backstory in a way few fans will find fault with. In short, it took me to galaxy a far, far away. And where else should you be sent to when you’re watching a Star Wars film?