Like Han Solo himself, the movie about his origins has had its share of ups and downs. There was excitement when Lucasfilm announced “Solo: A Star Wars Story” back in 2015, and fascination when the company said it had hired the “Lego Movie” jokesters, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, to direct. Then came the stunner, that Mr. Lord and Mr. Miller had been fired well into production, and the news soon after that Ron Howard had been hired to finish the job. (And let’s not even get into fans’ divided reaction to the first trailer and their first look at Alden Ehrenreich in the role that Harrison Ford made famous.)
But what about the actual movie? “Solo,” also featuring Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, opens Friday, but it showed at Cannes on May 15, and the critics weighed in then. Here’s what they had to say. Let us know in the comments what you thought of the movie.
A. O. Scott, The New York Times: “Where did Han Solo get his last name? How did he and Chewbacca meet? What was the winning hand in the game of Sabacc that gave him possession of the Millennium Falcon? How exactly did he make the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs? ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ answers all of these questions and more. This isn’t a bad thing, but it makes this episode, directed by Ron Howard from a screenplay by Jonathan Kasdan and Lawrence Kasdan, a curiously low-stakes blockbuster, in effect a filmed Wikipedia page.”
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian: “‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ is a crackingly enjoyable adventure which frankly deserves full episode status in the great franchise, not just one of these intermittent place-holding iterations. Ron Howard was born to direct it.” As for Alden Ehrenreich, he “absolutely crushes the role to powder, swaggeringly reviving the memory of the young Harrison Ford’s romantic gallantry.”
David Edelstein, Vulture: “The movie is a good old-fashioned linear piece of storytelling, different in kind from the disjointed, multinarrative spectacles of which Disney has made a specialty.” But “there’s a problem with the character that suffuses the whole movie”: Han “has a girlfriend he adores and a surrogate family. He bonds so quickly and firmly with Chewbacca that he’s hardly a Solo act at all — he’s Han Duo. He’s rarely even alone onscreen!”
Kate Erbland, IndieWire: “One of the greatest pleasures of the film is how it digs into the slow evolution of Han’s lifelong taste for rebellion, one that will eventually lead him to become part of a collective resistance.” And he’s helped by supporting characters who range from the beloved, like Donald Glover’s tremendous take on Lando Calrissian, who could easily handle his own spinoff; to the brand-new, like Lando’s whipsmart and rebellious droid L3-37, who’s played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge in scene-stealing fashion.”
Justin Chang, The Los Angeles Times: Ron Howard is “a director who tends to approach even his untroubled productions with a fixer’s stay-out-of-the-way attitude.” He and his collaborators “have cobbled together a high-speed, low-energy intergalactic heist movie, an opportunity to spend too much time with people you don’t care about and too little time with people you do.”
Cary Darling, The Houston Chronicle: “Workmanlike, yet blithely entertaining,” the movie has “three big plusses: Since ‘Solo’ is not part of the main ‘Star Wars’ story line, no one’s trying to blow up a Death Star; after a slow start, there are some welcome twists in the third act that are going to send die-hard fans into hyper-drive; and Donald Glover is grand as pre-Billy Dee Williams Lando Calrissian.
Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post: “As rendered by the moodily attractive Alden Ehrenreich, who could have played a young Henry Hill in ‘Goodfellas,’ this Solo bears only a glancing resemblance to the gruff, irreverent flyboy whom Ford portrayed so winningly. Ehrenreich is a gifted actor and possesses a rakishly appealing persona, but the character’s inner darkness is only hinted at.”
Molly Freeman, Screen Rant: This is “an entertaining enough origin story for Han Solo that explains how he became the smuggler introduced in ‘A New Hope.’ Beyond that, the movie takes very few risks and offers very few surprises. (Though, arguably, casting someone new in a role as iconic as Han Solo and attempting to deliver a prequel film that pleases fans both new and old is risky enough.) Certainly, ‘Solo’ will be an exciting romp for fans of Han, Chewie and Lando, but offers little reason to care about the goings on of the movie beyond seeing these three come full circle to the original trilogy.”