Solo: A Star Wars Story

Solo: A Star Wars Story

2018, PG-13, 135 min. Directed by Ron Howard. Starring Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau, Linda Hunt.

REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., May 25, 2018

Why did Han Solo boast that he did the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs? It’s the kind of seemingly trivial question that has kept Star Wars fans arguing for literally decades. Finally, there is a definitive, Lucasfilm-sanctioned answer, courtesy of the second in the Disney-era of stand-alone films.

This was always going to be a risky venture, having a younger actor stand in for an iconic performer from the originals. In this case, it’s Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!) strapping on Harrison Ford’s gun belt and flight boots as the young Solo – rogue, smuggler, ex-Imperial trooper. The cocky flyboy with the fastest ship in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, a Wookiee co-pilot (Suotamo giving a gleeful brutality to the part), and a few questionable friends, like Lando Calrissian (Glover, stepping into the stylish shoes and swirling capes of Billy Dee Williams). Except here he has none of those things. This Solo is a Corellian street rat who gets out, joins the Imperial Navy, and tags in with a band of thieves headed by the unscrupulous Beckett (Harrelson). They end up in debt to nefarious gangster clan Crimson Dawn – but surprise, surprise, one of their chief lieutenants is Qi’ra (Clarke), who just happens to be Solo’s childhood sweetheart.

Solo is the simplest of crime genres, the heist movie. You assemble a band of diverse and clashing talents, throw in a few hiccups and betrayals, and voilà! It’s also the Han Solo origin story. Or at least the new version, since the old, pre-Disney iteration had explained most of that in the vast array of spin-off fiction known as the Expanded Universe. There’s no heavy lifting to be done here, just have fun with the material. And yet fun is oddly lacking.

This plugs into the deeper, ongoing question: What is modern Star Wars? Clearly, producers Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan (who pulls script duty with his son Jonathan) have an idea. But so far their vision is opaque, thus potentially explaining their seemingly freewheeling approach to hiring and firing of directors. Going from original helming team of Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (fired mid-shoot) to Ron Howard is a radical change – two impish iconoclasts replaced by a skilled craftsman – and the end result is workmanlike. It has neither the ludicrous humor of the duo, nor the kinetic sensibilities of Howard at his best. It's like Kennedy and Kasdan wanted their own Ant-Man, changed their minds during production, and decided to make another Rogue One. Except we already had Rogue One, and it did “gritty underdogs on a mission” much better (plus Alan Tudyk's version of the exasperated droid sidekick is light-years ahead of Waller-Bridge's mechanical Jacobin L3-37).

There's nothing terrible about Solo. It can be spectacular, it can be charming, but it lacks sparkle. The mandatory references feel crowbarred in, rather than organic – for example, the first viewing of Corellia, one of the franchise's great iconic but so far unseen locations, should carry more heft. Moreover, there are such overt nods to the old Expanded Universe (is the Crimson Dawn really different from the Black Sun?) that they become redundant. If you know those stories – and a lot of people grew up with them, and still cherish them – this feels like a script cobbled together from Wookieepedia and then gently massaged. Oddest of all are some surprises that seem too much to be just tying Solo to both the original trilogy and the prequels, and may well be an attempt to kick start a new sub-franchise. Good luck with that.

It's tough to ignore the tonal divisions. There are moments of genuine humor, and the sparkling moments of romance between Qi'ra and Han have a Casablanca-esque tragedy to them. Yet then there are long periods of surprisingly dour narrative, and furrow-browed ruminations on what it means to be free. Even Ehrenreich and Glover swerve wildly between trying to imitate their respective predecessors and just bringing some life to the character. Weirdly, Ehrenreich is at his best when imitating Ford, while Glover's attempts to hew too closely to Williams' distinctive cadence distract from his easy charm.

Solo is at its best when it keeps to the basics, and does them subtly. Of course, this is about how he met Chewbacca, and won the Falcon in a game of sabbac from Lando, and even how he got his iconic blaster. And at least now we know for sure what the Kessel Run is.

Showtimes

Fri., June 22

10:15am, 1:30, 4:45, 8:00, 11:05

Sat., June 23

10:15am, 1:30, 4:45, 8:00, 11:00

Sun., June 24

10:15am, 1:30, 4:45, 8:00, 11:05

Mon., June 25

10:15am, 1:30, 4:45, 8:00, 11:00

Tue., June 26

10:15am, 1:30, 4:45, 8:00, 11:05

Wed., June 27

10:15am, 1:30, 4:45, 8:00, 11:05

Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane

5701 W. Slaughter, 512/861-7060, drafthouse.com/austin/theater/slaughter-lane

Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

Fri., June 22

9:40am, 12:55, 4:10, 7:25, 10:40

Sat., June 23

9:30am, 1:00, 4:15, 7:30, 10:45

Sun., June 24

9:30am, 12:50, 4:05, 7:20, 10:35

Mon., June 25

11:30am, 3:00, 6:15, 9:30

Tue., June 26

3:00, 6:15, 9:30
AFA 11:40am

Wed., June 27

11:30am, 3:00, 6:15, 9:30

Alamo Drafthouse Village

2700 W. Anderson, 512/861-7030, drafthouse.com

Tuesday matinee Baby Day shows (first show of the day) are intended for parents and their children younger than 6. Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

Fri., June 22

2:00, 6:00, 10:50

Sat., June 23

11:00am, 2:30, 6:00, 9:25

Sun., June 24

11:00am, 2:30, 6:00, 9:25

Mon., June 25

11:00am, 2:30, 6:00, 9:25

Tue., June 26

2:30, 6:00, 9:25
AFA 11:00am

Wed., June 27

11:00am, 2:30, 6:00, 9:25

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 South Capital of Texas Hwy, 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Fri., June 22

CC/DVS 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:40, 9:40
CC/DVS, recliners, reserved seating 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:40, 9:40

Sat., June 23

CC/DVS 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:40, 9:40
CC/DVS, recliners, reserved seating 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:40, 9:40

Sun., June 24

CC/DVS 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:40, 9:40
CC/DVS, recliners, reserved seating 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:40, 9:40

Mon., June 25

CC/DVS 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:40, 9:40
CC/DVS, recliners, reserved seating 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:40, 9:40

Tue., June 26

CC/DVS 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:40, 9:40
CC/DVS, recliners, reserved seating 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:40, 9:40

Wed., June 27

CC/DVS 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:40, 9:40
CC/DVS, recliners, reserved seating 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:40, 9:40

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Fri., June 22

digital 12:05, 3:25, 6:45, 10:05
digital, luxury lounger 12:05, 3:25, 6:45, 10:05

Sat., June 23

digital 12:05, 3:25, 6:45, 10:05
digital, luxury lounger 12:05, 3:25, 6:45, 10:05

Sun., June 24

digital 12:05, 3:25, 6:45, 10:05
digital, luxury lounger 12:05, 3:25, 6:45, 10:05

Mon., June 25

digital 12:05, 3:25, 6:45, 10:05
digital, luxury lounger 12:05, 3:25, 6:45, 10:05

Tue., June 26

digital 12:05, 3:25, 6:45, 10:05
digital, luxury lounger 12:05, 3:25, 6:45, 10:05

Wed., June 27

digital 12:05, 3:25, 6:45, 10:05
digital, luxury lounger 12:05, 3:25, 6:45, 10:05

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Fri., June 22

digital 12:00, 3:10, 6:40, 9:50
digital, luxury lounger 12:00, 3:10, 6:40, 9:50

Sat., June 23

digital 12:00, 3:10, 6:40, 9:50
digital, luxury lounger 12:00, 3:10, 6:40, 9:50

Sun., June 24

digital 12:00, 3:10, 6:40, 9:50
digital, luxury lounger 12:00, 3:10, 6:40, 9:50

Mon., June 25

digital 12:00, 3:10, 6:40, 9:50
digital, luxury lounger 12:00, 3:10, 6:40, 9:50

Tue., June 26

digital 12:00, 3:10, 6:40, 9:50
digital, luxury lounger 12:00, 3:10, 6:40, 9:50

Wed., June 27

digital 12:00, 3:10, 6:40, 9:50
digital, luxury lounger 12:00, 3:10, 6:40, 9:50

Fri., June 22

digital 9:45am, 1:00, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30
digital, luxury lounger 9:45am, 1:00, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30

Sat., June 23

digital 9:45am, 1:00, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30
digital, luxury lounger 9:45am, 1:00, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30

Sun., June 24

digital 9:45am, 1:00, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30
digital, luxury lounger 9:45am, 1:00, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30

Mon., June 25

digital 9:45am, 1:00, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30
digital, luxury lounger 9:45am, 1:00, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30

Tue., June 26

digital 9:45am, 1:00, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30
digital, luxury lounger 9:45am, 1:00, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30

Wed., June 27

digital 9:45am, 1:00, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30
digital, luxury lounger 9:45am, 1:00, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Fri., June 22

digital 9:30am, 12:45, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30
digital, luxury lounger 9:30am, 12:45, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30

Sat., June 23

digital 9:30am, 12:45, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30
digital, luxury lounger 9:30am, 12:45, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30

Sun., June 24

digital 9:30am, 12:45, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30
digital, luxury lounger 9:30am, 12:45, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30

Mon., June 25

digital 9:30am, 12:45, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30
digital, luxury lounger 9:30am, 12:45, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30

Tue., June 26

digital 9:30am, 12:45, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30
digital, luxury lounger 9:30am, 12:45, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30

Wed., June 27

digital 9:30am, 12:45, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30
digital, luxury lounger 9:30am, 12:45, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Fri., June 22

digital 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:55, 9:55
digital, luxury lounger 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:55, 9:55

Sat., June 23

digital 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:55, 9:55
digital, luxury lounger 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:55, 9:55

Sun., June 24

digital 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:55, 9:55
digital, luxury lounger 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:55, 9:55

Mon., June 25

digital 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:55, 9:55
digital, luxury lounger 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:55, 9:55

Tue., June 26

digital 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:55, 9:55
digital, luxury lounger 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:55, 9:55

Wed., June 27

digital 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:55, 9:55
digital, luxury lounger 9:40am, 12:40, 3:40, 6:55, 9:55

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Fri., June 22

digital 10:45am, 3:00, 6:15, 9:45

Sat., June 23

digital 10:45am, 3:00, 6:15, 9:45

Sun., June 24

digital 10:45am, 3:00, 6:15, 9:45

Mon., June 25

digital 10:45am, 3:00, 6:15, 9:45

Tue., June 26

digital 10:45am, 3:00, 6:15, 9:45

Wed., June 27

digital 10:45am, 3:00, 6:15, 9:45

City Lights Theatre

420 Wolf Ranch Parkway, Georgetown, 512/868-9922

Fri., June 22

10:10am, 1:45, 4:55, 8:00

Sat., June 23

10:10am, 1:45, 4:55, 8:00

Sun., June 24

1:45, 4:55, 8:00

Mon., June 25

10:10am, 1:45, 4:55, 8:00

Tue., June 26

10:10am, 1:45, 4:55, 8:00

Wed., June 27

10:10am, 1:45, 4:55, 8:00

Thu., June 28

10:10am, 1:45, 4:55, 8:00

Flix Brewhouse

2200 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/244-3549, www.flixbrewhouse.com/round-rock

Fri., June 22

CC 11:30am, 3:00, 5:40, 9:45

Sat., June 23

CC 11:30am, 3:00, 5:40, 9:45

Sun., June 24

CC 11:30am, 3:00, 5:40, 9:45

Mon., June 25

CC 11:30am, 3:00, 5:40, 9:45

Tue., June 26

CC 11:30am, 3:00, 5:40, 9:45

Wed., June 27

CC 11:30am, 3:00, 5:40, 9:45

Thu., June 28

CC 11:30am, 3:00, 5:40, 9:45

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Fri., June 22

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:45, 7:15, 10:20

Sat., June 23

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:45, 7:15, 10:20

Sun., June 24

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:45, 7:15, 10:20

Mon., June 25

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:45, 7:15, 10:20

Tue., June 26

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:45, 7:15, 10:20

Wed., June 27

CC/DVS 12:00, 3:45, 7:15, 10:20

AMC Lakeline 9

11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., Cedar Park, 512/335-4793

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Fri., June 22

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:45, 6:15, 9:45
CC/DVS, recliners, reserved seating 11:30am, 2:45, 6:15, 9:45

Sat., June 23

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:45, 6:15, 9:45
CC/DVS, recliners, reserved seating 11:30am, 2:45, 6:15, 9:45

Sun., June 24

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:45, 6:15, 9:45
CC/DVS, recliners, reserved seating 11:30am, 2:45, 6:15, 9:45

Mon., June 25

CC/DVS 1:15, 4:15, 7:15
CC/DVS, recliners, reserved seating 1:15, 4:15, 7:15

Tue., June 26

CC/DVS 1:15, 4:15, 7:15
CC/DVS, recliners, reserved seating 1:15, 4:15, 7:15

Wed., June 27

CC/DVS 1:15, 4:15, 7:15
CC/DVS, recliners, reserved seating 1:15, 4:15, 7:15

Moviehouse & Eatery

8300 N. FM 620, Bldg. B, 512/501-3520, www.themoviehouse.com/trails/

Fri., June 22

Reserved Seating 10:25am, 1:55, 5:25, 8:55

Sat., June 23

Reserved Seating 10:25am, 1:55, 5:25, 8:55

Sun., June 24

Reserved Seating 10:25am, 1:55, 5:25, 8:55

Mon., June 25

Reserved Seating 10:25am, 1:55, 5:25, 8:55

Tue., June 26

Reserved Seating 5:25, 8:55

Wed., June 27

Reserved Seating 10:25am, 1:55, 5:25, 8:55

Thu., June 28

Reserved Seating 10:25am, 1:55, 5:25, 8:55

Moviehouse & Eatery - Lantana Place

7415 Southwest Parkway, Building 7, 512/572-0770, www.themoviehouse.com/lantana/

Fri., June 22

reserved seating 10:30am, 2:00, 5:30, 10:30

Sat., June 23

reserved seating 10:30am, 2:00, 5:30, 10:30

Sun., June 24

reserved seating 10:30am, 2:00, 5:30, 10:30

Mon., June 25

reserved seating 10:30am, 2:00, 5:30, 10:30

Tue., June 26

reserved seating 10:30am, 2:00, 5:30, 10:30

Wed., June 27

reserved seating 10:30am, 2:00, 5:30, 10:30

Thu., June 28

reserved seating 10:30am, 2:00, 5:30, 10:15

Sky Cinemas

13201 US-290, 512/457-0700, www.skycinemas.com

Fri., June 22

11:50am, 3:00, 6:15, 9:30

Sat., June 23

11:50am, 3:00, 6:15, 9:30

Sun., June 24

11:50am, 3:00, 6:15, 9:30

Mon., June 25

11:50am, 3:00, 6:10, 9:25

Tue., June 26

11:50am, 3:00, 6:10, 9:25

Wed., June 27

11:50am, 3:00, 6:10

Thu., June 28

11:50am, 3:00, 6:10, 9:25

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Solo: A Star Wars Story, Ron Howard, Alden Ehrenreich, Joonas Suotamo, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Paul Bettany, Jon Favreau, Linda Hunt

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