A virtuoso Solo performance from this Star Wars origin instalment

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This is a curious film. You know immediately, whether it’s the tone of speech or simply the aesthetic, this is an extremely different Star Wars story.

Freed from the shackles of The Force, or the ever-continuing legacy and mystery surrounding the Skywalker genes,‘Solo : A Star Wars Story’ appears about as simple a premise as we’re ever going to get.

 Alden Ehrenreich plays the young Han, who we meet on the 'miserably fascist planet of Corellia'AP:Associated Press Alden Ehrenreich plays the young Han, who we meet on the ‘miserably fascist planet of Corellia’

This story introduces us to Han as he bombs around the miserably fascist planet of Corellia (“Join the Empire!” posters aplenty) on a landspeeder (hell yes) with his girl by his side, causing all sorts of mischief.

Eager to escape the clutches of a dead-end future, the pair rustle up a plan to escape – which does not go particularly well.

 Solo: A Star Wars Story is part heist, part western, part Indiana JonesAP:Associated Press Solo: A Star Wars Story is part heist, part western, part Indiana Jones

What follows is part heist, part western, part Indiana Jones. Teaming up with a motley crew head up by Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and Val (Thandie Newton) they attempt a train robbery – needing some precious fuel to pay off a debt to the villainous Dryden excellently played by Paul Bettany.

If you’re expecting another familiar, easy land-grab from Lucasfilm – you’re in for a surprise.

Whilst this certainly takes no risks, it must have been a relief to see it work well on screen.

There was obviously a bad feeling about this film, which is why company boss Kathleen Kennedy famously sacked original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller in favour of safe pair of hands Ron Howard.

This, combined with huge reshoots and alleged Harrison Ford style acting lessons for Alden Ehrenreich shows meddling from the powers that be is sometimes a necessary and welcome part of the puzzle.

 Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke plays Qi'raAP:Associated Press Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke plays Qi’ra

It has some glorious set pieces – incredible fight scenes and some great double-crossing cowboy standoffs (although a few too many false ending/twists). The cast are predominantly very good. Aiden Ehrenreich is, to great relief, up to the job.

Ford’s wiseguy routine is bubbling under, if not quite at the level of grump and cantankerousness we know and love (maybe the reluctance and cynicism will appear in later films? Hope so).

Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany and Thandie Newton are worthy of a nod, tucking into the scenery with aplomb.

 Solo: A Star Wars Story hits cinemas on May 25AP:Associated Press Solo: A Star Wars Story hits cinemas on May 25




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