The journey to the screen for Solo: A Star Wars Story has been nearly as fraught as Han Solo’s legendary Kessel Run. (The actual fraught level of said Kessel Run has only been alluded to in the past, but in this prequel we apparently get to see it.) There was the long search for an actor worthy of filling Harrison Ford’s shoes, which eventually ended with Alden Ehrenreich, rather than one of Hollywood’s leading Chrises. Then there was the messy exit of the original director duo, The Lego Movie‘s Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who were eventually replaced by Ron Howard. Also, there was that long wait for a plot synopsis or, really, any information at all about the movie, before the trailer dropped in February. Now, Solo: A Star Wars Story is finally here, benefitting from a surge of hype around costar Donald Glover, who plays Lando Calrissian. Well, the movie isn’t actually here until May 25, but the early reviews are in.
Have a look below at what critics are saying so far.
“This prequel is not particularly daring or innovative, but it is nonetheless entirely competent and enjoyable . . . Best of all, the movie is different. There’s no Death Star or Starkiller Base, no Imperial vessel or HQ that needs to be infiltrated in order to turn off a shield or tractor beam or interstellar tracker. There’s no mumbo jumbo about the Force, no lightsabers, no First Order, and scarcely a mention of the Empire. This is a movie set in the universe of Star Wars that, for once, doesn’t feel it needs to be a rehash of Star Wars.” —Christopher Orr, The Atlantic
“It doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it also holds whatever irreverent, anarchic impulses it might possess in careful check.” —A.O. Scott, New York Times
“Things measurably improve once Han (Alden Ehrenreich) meets Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and the screenplay starts to jettison its cumbersome setup infrastructure to become what it truly wants to be–a heist film. Or technically, a heists film, as Han and Chewie team up with a ragtag gang of outlaws led by Woody Harrelson and attempt a great space-train robbery while evading both the Empire and pirates and, later, raid a certain mining colony whose name has cropped up in the saga before.” —Bob Mondello, NPR
“As unnecessary prequels go, Solo: A Star Wars Story isn’t bad. It’s not great, either, though–and despite spirited performances, knockabout humor, and a few surprising or rousing bits, there’s something a bit too programmed about the whole thing.” —Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com
“Solo isn’t, nor shouldn’t be, a wise-cracking joke. There’s far too much at stake, even if every paying customer is aware that the title character will make it out of the movie alive. Put it all together and the result is a fun, if superfluous, summer popcorn movie that leaves itself wide open for another installment. ” —Mara Weinstein, US Weekly
“That’s the way much of Solo goes. Oh look, it’s the Millennium Falcon! Listen closely, they’re talking about Tatooine! Because Star Wars is held in such high regard in our culture–it’s the most popular film franchise of all-time, hands down–there is a thirst among the fanbase for anything Star Wars related, and a desire by executives to keep the merry-go-round going. The movie’s reason for being is obvious–outside of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, whose backstories were told at length in the exhausting Star Wars prequels, Solo is likely the biggest character in the Star Wars universe–but “Solo” is too wobbly to stand on its own, and the story is too needlessly complex. Strip away the nostalgia, the familiar Star Wars backdrop and take it for what it’s worth, and Solo is a bit of a clunker. ” —Adam Graham, Detroit News
“Solo: A Star Wars Story gets the job done with little fuss, but also with precious little finesse. It might arguably succeed in teeing up the cinematic narrative that would change movies forever. But in both substance and execution, it bears but a whisper of the revolution to come.” —Ann Hornaday, Washington Post
“Enter: Lando Calrissian. Look, this isn’t a situation where Donald Glover shows up and is so good he saves the movie. And don’t get me wrong, Glover is great, but it’s at this point in the movie that everything gets better. This is the part where the movie finally knows what it should have been all along: a rootin’ tootin’ heist movie and not an origin story.” —Mike Ryan, Uproxx
” . . . the movie ride delivered by Solo: A Star Wars Story is more mild than wild, a pleasant way to pass the time instead of a game-changer.” —Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“As an origin story, Howard’s film has to line up a series of expected beats–how Han got his name, where he learned to fly, how he met Chewbacca and Lando, when he acquired the Millennium Falcon–but Solo crams all that stuff into an entertaining package that can also stand alone.” —Kate Erbland, IndieWire