'Solo: A Star Wars Story' Review Round-Up: A Largely Entertaining Origin Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story is about to land in theaters after a highly-publicized and turbulent flight, and if you'll allow me to belabor the metaphor, it sounds as if director Ron Howard managed to pull this particular spaceship out of a potentially disastrous nosedive and smooth things out in a satisfying way.

The Solo A Star Wars Story reviews are in, and despite the fact that exactly no one asked for a Han Solo origin film, critics are largely pleased with the latest entry in this franchise. Read excerpts from a handful of reviews below.

Solo A Star Wars Story Reviews

Andrew Barker at Variety says the film leans a bit too much on fan service, but it's still mostly entertaining:

Though burdened with a slow start and enough thirsty fan-service to power Comic-Con's Hall H for a decade, it has a kicky, kinetic heist movie at its heart, and its action sequences are machine-tooled spectacles of the first order. Its performances, starting with Alden Ehrenreich as the young Han Solo and extending to the film-stealing Donald Glover as his wily frenemy Lando Calrissian, are consistently entertaining. And thanks to cinematographer Bradford Young, "Solo" allows for moments of real grit and something approaching interstellar realism amid all of the expectedly topnotch VFX.

Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian gave it four out of five stars and says it's a "crackingly enjoyable adventure."

Solo: A Star Wars Story moreover has a glorious origin myth meet-cute to set up one of cinema's greatest bromances: the stoic wookiee Chewbacca and the insolently handsome freebooting rebel pilot Han Solo – and Alden Ehrenreich absolutely crushes the role to powder, swaggeringly reviving the memory of the young Harrison Ford's romantic gallantry. And there's another meet-cute, come to think of it: the love that flowers between man and machine, between the reckless pilot and the sleekly iconic Millennium Falcon.

Mike Ryan at Uproxx wasn't particularly impressed with the movie's opening act:

The first act of Solo is everything I didn't need out of a movie about Han Solo. I kind of wish this movie was titled, Han Solo and the Kessel Run, or whatever, and we just jumped into the action. We know who these characters are! Because I sure didn't need to know what Han was doing as a young man on Corellia or see him the first time he says, "Watch this," only to have things go terribly wrong. Or to watch Han and Chewbacca meet for the first time. Or to watch Ehrenreich try to speak Wookiee. Or to watch Han tell Chewbacca that Chewbacca needs a shorter nickname. Or watch Han and Chewbacca share their first shower together. (This actually happens. It's a long story.) There's also a scene I won't mention here, for fear it's too spoilery, that made me let out an audible groan. In a way, it's everything I was dreading about a Solo movie.

(Once the plot picked up the pace a bit, Ryan's enjoyment increased as well and it sounds like he ended up liking it.)

Michael Rechtshaffen at The Hollywood Reporter says the film probably won't end up in the upper echelon of Star Wars movies when all is said and done, but he still found it to be a welcome return to the franchise's roots:

Especially when following in the turbo-charged footsteps of last winter's The Last Jedi and other recent Star Wars epics, this origins story represents a return to the saga's more humble, original space Western roots — one that places a premium on character development over kinetic, adrenaline-fueled action sequences.

That emphasis certainly plays to the talents of director Ron Howard, whose most memorable films tend to be known for their colorful protagonists rather than their pulse-pounding battle sequences. As a result, Howard, who took over the reins from original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller some five months into shooting (the original team departed over creative differences), gets plenty of entertaining mileage out of Han Solo & Co.'s formative years, even though he never quite manages to launch the Millennium Falcon into hyperdrive.

Solo Han and Chewie

Bryan Bishop at The Verge was surprised at how well Howard managed to pull everything together in the wake of the film's production troubles:

But like its title character pulling off a crazy scheme just in the nick of time, Solo is a swashbuckling success, a space adventure that pays homage to the DNA of the original films while carving out its own unique space in the canon. It's a sheer delight, but it also has the courage to explore the darker aspects of a character who could have all too easily been polished to an inoffensive, family-friendly Disney sheen. Solo represents the most refined iteration yet of the new Disney / Lucasfilm formula — and cements longtime series screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan's place as the defining voice of the Star Wars universe.

Kate Erbland at IndieWire gave the film a B+, saying it "captures a humor and pace Star Wars audiences expect."

While "Solo" is often occupied with heists and hijinks, there are plenty of nods to the wider galaxy and what lies beyond Han's view. At the very least, now we know who gave Han and Chewie the idea to seek out that big-talking crime boss on Tatooine, and Han's eagerness to get to the next step in his adventure is both thrilling and believable. And yet 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. For now, he's a lone gun, but "Solo" ably lays out how and why that might change. We may know where he ends up, but for now, we can't wait to see where he goes next.

And like everyone else, Chris Nashawaty at Entertainment Weekly had extremely high praise for Donald Glover's turn as Lando Calrissian:

Speaking of Glover, it's no spoiler to say that the Atlanta star is easily the best thing in this good-not-great movie. More than any big action set piece or narrative double cross (and there are plenty of them thanks to a smooth crime boss played by Paul Bettany), it's Glover's mack-daddy, Colt 45 swagger as the rakish gambler formerly played by Billy Dee Williams that will be the thing you'll be buzzing about after the lights come up (well, that and how much you'd rather see his standalone origin story). Unlike most of the recent Star Wars films, Solo feels more like a character study than an epic sci-fi adventure. The Empire is present, but mostly as a presence felt rather than seen.

One of the few negative responses I saw came from Matt Singer at ScreenCrush, who gave the movie a 4/10. He wasn't a fan of Alden Ehrenreich's take on the title character, saying the film "flattens a complex and mysterious rogue into a bland and simpleminded dude." As for the supporting cast:

Glover is hilarious as Lando  and not in nearly enough of the film. Bettany is a seductively charming psychopath as Vos, but his part is also dwarfed by Harrelson's, who's mostly going through the motions as Beckett, the guy who taught Han everything he knows about smuggling. Clarke gets to wear some of Star Wars' most fabulous costumes, and little else. At least Chewbacca shines during the big action set pieces; casting a former basketball player (Joonas Suotamo) to replace 73-year-old Peter Mayhew certainly has its advantages in fight scenes...

Discovering how Han met Chewbacca, or why he made the famous Kessel Run, doesn't make him more interesting. And if the goal here was to really understand how a brash kid from a backwater planet became an amoral smuggler, Solo failed. Han's evolution in this movie is entirely superficial. He doesn't become the character we recognize. When you get right down to it, the biggest thing about him that changes is he goes from wearing a vest to a jacket.

Solo: A Star Wars Story premiered at the Cannes Film Festival today and opens in U.S. theaters on May 25, 2018.