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SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY

SYNOPSIS:
Explores the adventure-filled past of Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich), the iconic galactic scoundrel and one of the most beloved characters in cinema history. Through a series of daring escapades deep within a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo will meet his mighty future co-pilot Chewbacca (Jonas Suotamo) and encounters the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), in a journey that sets the course of one of the Star Wars saga's most unlikely heroes.

Review by Louise Keller:
How Han Solo meets Chewbacca is one of the highlights of this thoroughly enjoyable, action packed adventure in which friendships are forged, hearts are broken; and plans change. I love the sense that there is something at stake. A sense of danger and that we do not know where things are going to lead. Production values might be slick, but we constantly feel as though we are on the edge as its risk-taking protagonist pushes the boundaries - in a reality we know and love. Father and son screenwriters Lawrence Kasdan and Jonathan Kasdan have penned a superbly dense screenplay that relies on character as it compounds a sense of fun with issues of life and death. Director Ron Howard (who took over from the original directors during the shoot) manages the material as a conductor conducts a large orchestra, paying attention to the light and shade that gives the material individuality and colour.

The casting of charismatic Alden Ehrenreich as the young Harrison Ford character is inspired. He claims the role as his own; he is a delectable composite of a young Ford and early days Jack Nicholson. A natural leading man, Ehrenreich delivers on every level, imbuing the essence of the daredevil adventurer who has courage, values and a wry sense of humour. We like him immediately.

But the entire cast is impeccable. Emilia Clarke as Qi'ra, the girl from home who has stolen Han's heart ('You are the good guy'); Woody Harrelson as the 'broken down crook' Beckett ('Don't trust anyone'); Thandie Newton (with afro) as Beckett's partner; genial Donald Glover as the smooth talking, cheating gambler Lando, and Paul Bettany as the extremely well dressed sociopathic Dryden Vos. Then there are the scene stealers Joonas Suotamo as the lovable Chewbacca and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Lando's hilarious astromech droid co-pilot L3-37, who has far too little screen time. The scene in which L3 and Qi'ra have an intimate conversation about matters of the heart is one of the film's funniest. The film relies on the strength of its relationships.

Highlights include a thrilling train heist in Vandor's spectacular mountainous terrain (shot in the Dolomites), which looks as though it's halfway between heaven and hell; Han's chase scene on his home planet of Corellia, created to be reminiscent of a Star Wars version of Venice; the high stakes gambling scenes with Lando. Watch for the classic moments, like the scene when Han acquires his surname; the wonderful meeting and subsequent bonding of Han and Chewy. I love the party scene with a chanteuse in gold lame and side-kick in a glass jar. The characters, costumes and production design are eye-popping. Oh yes, and there is the kiss. But we do have to wait for that.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this film. It's fast, funny, fabulous escapism. The music score has a huge impact. It is beautifully adapted and integrated, beginning as a tease. At first, there are only echoes of the familiar John Williams theme. By the time Han sits in the pilot's seat of the Millennium Falcon, the unforgettable Star Wars theme is in full flight, bringing with it its full emotional impact.

The long end credits roll on a backdrop of stars, leaving us with our thoughts and a reality which may still be far-far away, yet feels somewhat closer and extremely familiar.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (M)
(US, 2018)

CAST: Alden Ehrenreich, Jonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau

PRODUCER: Simon Emanuel, Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur

DIRECTOR: Ron Howard

SCRIPT: Jonathan Kasdan, Lawrence Kasdan (based on characters by George Lucas)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bradford Young

EDITOR: Pietro Scalia

MUSIC: John Powell

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Neil Lamont

RUNNING TIME: 135 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Studios

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 24, 2018







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