Admittedly, I grew up on the "original three" Star Wars films.
Admittedly, I had high hopes when the prequels came out, especially given the casting choices with Canadian actor Hayden Christensen playing the younger adult version of Anakin "Darth Vader" Skywalker. He is an outstanding actor—as seen in the TV series Higher Ground—but unfortunately, wasn't truly given a chance to shine in the films.
And I wish I could say the same for the sequels that came out. Technically, they too are well done, but like the "prequels," they just didn't have the same sort of tone or feeling as the original three films made in the 1970s and 1980s had.
Then came Solo: A Star Wars Story.
I won't give any spoilers in this review, other than yes, we get to see Chewy and the Falcon, as well as Lando. Of course, that's information which has been known since the trailers were released, but that is as much of a spoiler as I am going to give.
Alden Ehrenreich was put in a similar situation as Chris Pine was a few years ago in playing an already iconic role which had already been established by a brilliant actor. The task must be, from an actor's perspective, a very daunting one. But like Chris Pine, who reprised the role of a younger and more naive James Tiberious Kirk (played originally in the 1960's by William Shatner), and pulled it off in a very respectable way, Alden Ehrenreich was able to do something very similar.
Ehrenreich played the teenage version of the Han Solo character, which was something that had not been established in the original films. Even so, the mannerisms and the cockiness which anyone who has seen the Harrison Ford version of Han Solo knows, were elements that were carefully brought into the character.
We see Han as someone who is uncertain but bold, wanting to get out of a life which he hates. He trades in one hell for another, in his desperation to find his way. During this time, as a young man, he falls in love, but is thrown into situations which he never wanted or expected. His path is rocky, and it is easy to see why, when we meet him in "A New Hope," his view of the universe is so very jaded. Still, the path which he is destined to follow is made very clear, even if as a teen, Han is resisting his own fate.
Another note that I will make: there is an actor in this film who did make an appearance, who has been in many other Star Wars films in the past, but this time, we get to see his face. Admittedly, I fangirled a bit at that as more often than not, this actor is wearing prosthetics or a mask in many of the roles he's had over the years.
I'll also add, Ron Howard directed this film. Unlike other directors who have tried their hand at directing films in the Star Wars universe, he didn't go overboard with the usage of the visual effects available to him. They were there as they should be used: as a visual prop that helps to tell the story, and not as an entire sequence that lasts several minutes. There is a certain flight scene in the film where, yes, the special effects and CGI are an absolute MUST, but they are thankfully, for the most part, seen from the inside of the ship being flown. The focus remained on the characters rather than the special effects, which was a very refreshing thing to see.
I know the timing of this film's release was atrocious considering Avengers: Infinity War was released close to the same time, but one only needs to look at how the popularity of both films appears to be quite equal.
First- 'Avengers: Infinity War' Showtimes
Next- 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' Showtimes
The audiences at the theatre near where I live have been telling the story: These two films are EQUAL in terms of their content and story telling. I am also going to hazard a guess, by the way, that though Solo ended, there may be a sequel or two in store for this part of the Star Wars saga—mostly through the way the script was written, leaving the door wide open for more of the story to be told.
But also, hugely thanks to the believable job Mr. Ehrenreich did of playing the younger version of Han Solo, I would be shocked if the producers at Disney didn't make more films using this actor, as he has very much a similar vibe in his acting style as Harrison Ford does.