Take a quick glance at the history of Hollywood and you will see that production issues, especially with summer blockbusters, have always threatened the heavy wallets of studio executives.
And the Star Wars franchise has had its fair share of on‐set complications, especially those cursed with the ‘A Star Wars Story’ suffix.
Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One dominated headlines for its troublesome production and extensive reshoots, and Solo: A Star Wars Story faced a similar makeover.
Reports suggest that directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who were first appointed to bring the Han Solo origin story to the big screen, were out of their depth, being replaced with Ron Howard; a veteran in the movie‐making business.
Also adding fuel to the fire was the unprecedented employment of an acting coach to help lead star Aldren Ehrenheich mimic Harrison Ford’s trademark loveable‐rogue affect.
While this decision ultimately led to a terrific younger reiteration of the pop‐culture icon, such reports had fans worrying about the outcome of Star Wars’ first character-driven origin story. And we all know how volatile the Star Wars fan-base can be, don’t we?
And volatile they were. The culmination of these reports led to an overwhelming sense of angst from some Star Wars fans, with many hoping that Solo would bomb at the box office.
Many condemned the existence of the movie, arguing that it is unnecessary, that the enigma of Ford’s character was his most lovable trait.
Did we truly need to know about how he came to form a brotherhood with a hulking Wookie? Or whether his infamous Kessel Run was anything but self‐congratulatory tosh; a sign of Han Solo’s trademark arrogance?
Granted, these were all valid concerns, but by the time the end credits rolled on the thrilling galactic‐heist movie, many fans shared the same verdict: Solo was way better than expected.
Among the ubiquitous chaos, thrill and excitement of Star Wars’ Skywalker Saga, it is easy to neglect the other adventures that exist outside of the main story, with Rogue One and Solo existing on the margins of the franchise.
And on these margins we find a young Han, thieving and surviving on the planet Corellia with his trusted companion Qi’ra (played by the ever‐lovable Emilia Clarke).
As we are introduced to a younger Han and his swashbuckling charm, there’s a grimness that consumes the film.
The muted colour palette on display showcases the grim underbelly of Corellian life, a visual nod to the societal hardship that has fuelled Han’s relentless pursuit of wealth and fame.
Solo is perhaps the most grounded and relatable experience that fans have had with a Star Wars movie up to this point. There are no mentions of mythical Jedis, or their connection to the Force, nor are there any flashy, over‐acrobatic lightsaber duels to savour.
Instead, we get anarchic battle sequences that are ripe with excitement. but still capture the chaos of intergalactic warfare at ground level. The screen is filled with agonising screams of fallen soldiers, the iconic sound of blaster fire as it flashes in the darkness.
As well as visceral grimness, Solo boasts a series of action set‐pieces that are synonymous with a Star Wars experience.
It is very much a heist movie set against the backdrop of inter‐galactic spectacle, with Woody Harrelson’s led rag‐tag team of bandits executing cunning plots to steal copious amounts of coaxium for Paul Bettany’s suave‐but‐sinister Dryden Vos.
With these adventures come plenty of moments designed to serve the nostalgic needs of Star Wars fans. We witness the dawn of Han and Chewie’s eternal brotherhood, with Han rescuing ‘the beast’ from Imperial enslavement in one of the film’s more humorous moments.
We witness the birth of Han and Lando Calrissian’s (Donald Glover) conflicting friendship, the pair doing their best to out‐wit and betray each other.
And there is also the infamous Kessel Run, proven not to be complete bullsh*t as some fans might have speculated.
But what I love most about Solo is its thematic interest in how even the most neglected and impoverished of beings in the galaxy can amount to something; that the shackles of societal hardship can be removed in the pursuit of freedom.
In this respect, Han Solo was the perfect surrogate to introduce these relatable concerns. He came from nothing, yet became the best smuggler in the Galaxy. He was once an Imperial cadet, but saw the malevolence in their actions and yearned for freedom among the stars.
Many wanted Solo: A Star Wars Story to fail, but much like its titular star, Solo overcame its pre‐determined failure and prospered.
Somewhere in Howard’s galaxy far, far away, a hotshot smuggler is holding his middle finger up to the cynics. As Lando Calrissian would say: you might not like it, you might not agree with it, but you might as well accept it.
Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker will be released in UK cinemas 19th December.