Set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, Solo tells how Han Solo began his journey towards becoming the character met at a Tatooine cantina in the original film. It's an entertaining space adventure that is best when it's not spending time covering obvious, connective plot points.
Han (Alden Ehrenreich) is young thief on the streets Corellia working for Lady Proxima (Linda Hunt), a variation on Oliver Twist and Fagin. He dreams of becoming a pilot and leaving the planet. His only option to accomplish both is joining the Empire. While on an Imperial mission to conquer a planet, Han encounters a group of thieves, led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), and befriends a Wookie.
Needing help on a train heist, Beckett enlists the pair, but when the job doesn't pan out, they have to complete a riskier assignment to keep from getting killed by Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), leader of the criminal syndicate Crimson Dawn. To keep an eye on them, Voss sends along Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke), Han's former love interest. She knows a man with a fast ship, so they go to meet Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). With so many scoundrels working together, let alone dealing with highly volatile elements, it's not so much a question of will they be successful, but who will survive, although the answer is already known for three of the characters.
Ehrenreich has a huge task stepping into role, yet does a fine job as a youthful version of the beloved character. It might have helped that Han's last appearance, in The Force Awakens, diminished his stature. Glover is in a similar boat and delivers similar results, though at times his performance was distracting because it sounded like he was doing a Billy Dee Williams imitation.
The script by Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan has a bit of a checklist feel, as if they needed to cover certain things in case there's not another film in this vein, so we get Han meeting Chewie, meeting Lando, getting the Millennium Falcon, going on the Kessel Run, and other references about the character and his future that fans are already aware of. And I can't be the only person that will groan at the revelation how Han got the last name Solo. It was rather lame and had me concerned about what was to come.
When the script gets away from winking at the Star Wars fans and tells its own story, it becomes more interesting from characters such as Lando's droid co-pilot L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), though she may say he's her co-pilot, wanting equal and proper treatment of droids to the plot twists as the characters try and outsmart one another. The writers do a good job playing with expectations during the first meeting with Han and Lando, but then revisit it, resulting in a scene that's too obvious.
The creative crew members, who worked under director Ron Howard and former directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, deliver the high quality of work one expects from a Lucasfilm production, from the state-of-art special effects and imaginative production design to executing the thrilling action sequences. There are fun cameos in the movie, including a major one near the end where one's degree of surprise will depend on their level of familiarity with the TV shows, books, and comics.
Although an origin story seemed unnecessary, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a fun addition to the franchise that gets more right than wrong, which is a good achievement for any endeavor. There should be enough to please most Star Wars fans. Those new to this movie universe don't have to worry about being overwhelmed by the mythology and can enjoy it as a heist film. Go with friends or see it...alone.