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Hitting all of the right tones

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY

OH, let me count the ways.

Let’s see.

“I could go to this movie … solo.”

“My hair is not yet dry so I will go to the party … solo.”

The list of gags is endless.

You get the idea.

And if you are expecting a galactically important spin-off of the Star Wars franchise, guess again.

You may just be flying … solo.

Okay, enough but “Solo: A Star Wars Story” arrives smack dab into the center of Cebu much like pages torn from Wikipedia, thrown into the sky and landing right on target.

“Solo” hits all of the right tones but doubtful that Star Wars fans will be waiting overnight for this one.

In “Solo” we are introduced to Alden Ehrenreich as an even younger version of the 30 something Han

Solo that was presented in the first “Star Wars: A New Hope” when at the 48-minute mark of that film, Captain Solo brags about the Millennium Falcon which “made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.”

Here, in “Solo” we meet up for the first time with Han Solo, a bit of a down on his luck young pilot who just wants to “fly and kick ass” who continually runs afoul of his boss/mentor Beckett (Woody Harrelson) eventually wining the Millennium Falcon in a card game from Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and earns the favor of his new co-pilot, the exceptional Chewbacca, a Wookie who is more than 190 years old.

There is lots of swagger and “hip action” from Ehrenreich, who must have watched the original Star Wars more than 23 times (as did this film critic) but lacks not only the charisma that Harrison Ford presented four decades ago, but the acting chops as well.

As the beloved Han Solo, Ehrenreich is stiff as starch and any blood that actually courses through the veins of this movie comes from the Wookie.

According to early production reports, Lucasfilm had to hire an acting coach for Ehrenreich, as they were unhappy with his performance up to that point.

Ya think?

And the Millennium Falcon?

In case you might be wondering, “Solo” takes place some 13 years before the first Star Wars film.

The first time Solo steps on board the Millennium Falcon, this “hunk of junk” as tagged by Luke Skywalker in 1977 is pristine clean and ready for action; which is where “Solo: A Star Wars Story” heads off into all new territory which has very little to do with the overarching Skywalker sage from the soon to be ninth segment coming in 2019.

And with Ehrenreich taking the role of young Solo, Finnish basketball player/actor Joonas Suotamo also dons the fur of Chewbacca from Peter Mayhew who took every Chewbacca role from the film’s prequel episodes to current.

“Solo” is every part an American “Western” as our hero fights the bad guys, wears (mostly) white, has a faithful companion sidekick and wins not only the pretty girl, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke from TV’s “Game of Thrones”) but the glorious prize at the film’s end.

Veteran Star Wars script writer Lawrence Kasdan wrote the screenplay for “Solo: A Star Wars Story” nearly six years ago, long before George Lucas sold the Star Wars franchise to Disney.

Even though “Solo” does not cross over into the mainline “Skywalker” Star Wars films, it dabs into the swashbuckler’s contacts with the Empire; he was kicked out of the official flight academy and was “doing deals” when he was 14; his relationship with Calrissian and the darker, seedier underworld side of the Empire (if there is one even darker than the Force) with a full cast of strange alien creatures.

Paul Bettany (Vision from the Avengers films) is this film’s villain, Dryden Vos but the real star of this Star Wars derivative movie is Phoebe Waller-Bride as the android L3-37.

As the film’s leading man, Ehrenreich is best when he says little or nothing at all.

Acting isn’t the easiest profession in the world, what with 50 people standing around you when you are giving your lines or looking decisive in front of a green screen.

But when you look back at the original Star Wars film of 1977, Han Solo is at his best when he says very little, zaps the greedy alien, Greedo, tosses a coin to the bartender and quips “sorry for the mess.”

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” comes from the capable directing hands of Ron Howard (“Cocoon”) and would be great to watch without dialogue, just to see if Ehrenreich can get the Han Solo swagger right.

Actually, he’s not that bad.

And so is this film.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is not a great addition to the overarching Star Wars’ family of cannon films but not that bad at all.

Questions, comments or travel suggestions, write me at [email protected]

TAGS: All, hitting, rights, THE, tones
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