Solo: A Star Wars Story

When George Lucas moved from his biographical “American Graffiti” to a galaxy far far away from Modesto, he doubtfully envisioned how large his Star Wars universe would become. Lucas must every day thank his lucky stars (as it were) that Fox decided to let him keep the merch rights to the world he created.

In the case of “Solo” we explore some of the origin stories of Han Solo and Chewbacca. The pair get caught up in an underworld heist, with plenty of explosions, chases and escapes. The special effects technology continues to accelerate, such that rarely are the seams visible.

Alden Ehrenreich inhabits the role that Harrison Ford made famous, and Ehrenreich acquits himself well. The role requires a raffishness balanced by a degree of charm. Also standing out well in the cast are Donald Glover and Woody Harrelson. Harrelson has come a long way from his role as the hayseed bartender in “Cheers,” and he seems to relish playing in alternate universes. Glover continues to broaden his filmography (and will do so in next year’s remake of “The Lion King”).

Directed by Ron Howard (one of the main characters in “American Graffiti”), the film maintains a solid pace, only flagging in a couple scenes in the middle. Lawrence Kasdan (who was the scribe on several of the Star Wars films, an Indiana Jones installment and the excellent “Silverado” as well as “Grand Canyon”) was co-writer on “Solo,” sharing credit with his son Jonathan.

Given that a father – son relationship was at the crux of the first Star Wars trilogy, it is a nice irony.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.