Cert 12A 135mins Stars 4
Experience a light-speed roller coaster ride in a galaxy far, far away in this rip-roaring Star Wars spin-off.
Set sometime before the original 1977 blockbuster, it follows the young Han Solo from a penniless street thief to becoming a swashbuckling space smuggler.
Having been brilliantly played by Harrison Ford in four films previously, I worried about how the new guy would measure up.
Especially as in the words of Princess Leia who famously quipped of Luke Skywalker, new star Alden Ehrenreich is probably a little short for a stormtrooper. In his defence, everyone looks short next to the enormous hairy frame of Chewbacca the Wookiee.
And Ehrenreich quickly wins us over with an endearingly cocky swagger, as Solo survives a mountainside monorail heist, meets Chewbacca for the first time, acquires his iconic spaceship, the Millennium Falcon, and falls foul of Paul Bettany’s master criminal, Dryden Vos.
Emilia Clarke from TV’s Game Of Thrones plays Solo’s childhood friend, Qi’ra, though she’s such a sweet on-screen presence she struggles to convince of the conflict within her character.
And it’s Donald Glover, as the roguish Lando Calrissian, who steals the film with his cosmic charisma.
A lot more fun than the other Star Wars spin-off, Rogue One, there’s no avoiding the background hum of war.
But this is far from the rarefied world of generals and emperors of previous films, this is a blue-collar world of miners, shipbuilders, and frontline soldiers, where people wrestle in mud for their lives.
Ron Howard’s safe pair of hands were brought in to reshoot large chunks of the film after original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were jettisoned when Disney were unhappy with their loose improvisational style.
Racing against the clock to complete the film it’s remarkable he’s crafted not only a coherent film, but a hugely entertaining one, packed with humour and big screen spectacle.