Originally posted at edgeofgeekuniverse.wordpress.com

I'm not a huge Star Wars fan.  I'm not much of a Trekkie either.  Yet, even the most casual film-goer knows about the basic premise of the Star Wars trilogy (and prequel trilogy...and current trilogy).  The storyline with Luke, Darth Vader, Yoda, the force...it has been explored in great detail (with Episode 9 scheduled for December of 2019).  But the one aspect that hasn't truly been explored during the 40+ year history has been about Han Solo.  Is Han Solo his real name?  How did his friendship with Chewbacca start?  And did he really make the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs?

Sometimes it's best to start from the beginning...

The latest side story comes to us from Ron Howard, arguably one of the greatest storytellers in modern film.  This simplistic story explores the origins of Han Solo in a script that's not bogged down with Star Wars lore (and thus, not one that might lose a newcomer or casual fan of the series).  Instead, the story breaks down to a series of coincidental moments that sometimes may have been predictable but showcases the unpredictable nature of the Han Solo character.

The helm of this character is played by Alden Ehrenreich, an American actor who first debut just under a decade ago in Tetra (directed by Francis Ford Coppola).  And that's if you don't count the character he played early in Supernatural (Ben Collins...you know, the younger of the three siblings that went to find his brother Tommy after being taken by the Wendigo...no?)  The key element to his performance is the ability to portray an already established character without seeming like he is copying a previous performance.  The natural smile, sharp charisma, and baritone voice showcases how he is a perfect fit to be a younger Harrison Ford.  Couple that with the performance of Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian.  Both of these actors were able to use their uncanny charm to give a believable performance that goes without question.

The story feels a lot like it could have been lifted from a Firefly story (maybe it's the train heist as the catalyst to the core of the story...just saying).  The story of thieves, murderers, a crime syndicate...all of these basic elements are not unheard of in this type of story.  What makes it interesting is the ability for Alden's Solo to keep you guessing as to "What's next??", and that helps to guide the story along further.  Granted, I did feel like there were a few pivotal moments that seemed to drag on just a few beats longer than necessary, and even a couple cheesy moments that felt either overplayed for dramatic or humorous purposes.

Naturally there are some surprises throughout the movie.  One key to this was the performance of Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos.  The past several Marvel movies has made us grow accustomed to him portraying a good, honest character that you can't help to love.  His character work made me legitimately made me fear for what his character was going to do next.  Very suspenseful, very dangerous, and very well played!

The visual effects were stunning, and the final combination of surprise twists and turns felt like I had just flown the Millennium Falcon through the Maelstorm.  Some felt slightly forced, and some didn't seem to give enough time to absorb what happened before the next twist came into play.  Ultimately, I left with more questions than I had answers for (a growing trend with the latest Star Wars movies).  Hopefully aspects of this will tie into Episode IX.

Movie Rating: PG-13

Critic Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

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