I was sceptical when Alden Ehrenreich – who doesn’t look or sound anything like Harrison Ford – was cast as young Han. Where Ford is tall, rangy, chisel-jawed and rugged, Alden could be a member of a galactic boy band (except he’s solo).
After a troubled production and reports of an acting coach, it seemed as if the odds of Alden successfully navigating young Han were approximately 3,720 to 1.
But the wise-cracking smuggler never did set much store by the odds, ‘cos if you have enough swagger, you can pull anything off. So I can vaguely imagine Alden maturing into Original Trilogy Han. Better than I could reconcile Hayden Christensen with the man in the mask, even after I watched it lowered onto his charred face.
Solo is a fairly straightforward, pulpy adventure that introduces Han on his scuzzy home planet of Corellia, long before he met a Princess and fathered a Supreme Idiot. He’s serving a slimy crime boss, a bit like Rey on Jakku, except Han and his girl Qi’Ra clearly have more time for hair salon appointments.
After an escape bid sees Qi’Ra captured, Han signs up for the Empire (who use the Imperial March in recruiting drives). Kicked out the Academy, he meets pro thief Tobias Beckett (guys, the least imaginative SW name) and company. They chuck Han to ‘The Beast’ – I’m expecting a Rancor…it’s Chewbacca!
Beckett is meant to be stealing hyperfuel for a crime syndicate, but at the first sight of pirates, Han drops his shipment, angering boss Dryden Vos. He wants his fuel or else, so it’s all aboard the Falcon for that infamous Kessel Run. Dryden orders Qi’Ra, now his top lieutenant, to supervise them.
Han could be such a dark character: he grew up in Corellia’s murky underworld as a child slave, he fought for the Empire on a planet resembling a WWI hellscape, he lost his childhood sweetheart. But all he wants is to be a cool pilot and make a quick buck.
Qi’Ra knows that under the cocky attitude, Han’s one of the good guys. (Was it just me or did a certain bad guy look happy to get ‘closer’ to Emilia Clarke’s Bond girl femme fatale? Isn’t he a cyborg/robotic below the waist?)
Anyway, Emilia does a great mix of resigned and ambitious, a survivor in too deep. She’s more interesting than her former flame, and the other female characters – so much for Thandie Newton’s ‘prominent’ role! And Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s hyped droid L3 doesn’t get the same chance to shine as Rogue One’s K-2SO.
Considering the weekend box office, mooted sequels are unlikely. I wonder why they didn’t do “Adventures of Young Han Solo” on the small screen, as a Netflix-style live-action show on Disney’s new streaming channel. Then Alden would have been TV Han.
There’s going to be a lot of analysis about ‘what went wrong’. Perhaps Rogue One benefited from the novelty of being the first ‘standalone’, and from charged audiences wanting something to sustain them until Episode VIII. Plus Darth Vader going berserk in the rebel-rousing finale probably helped.
There just wasn’t the enthusiasm for a full movie about a non-Force user. Now Obi-Wan on the other han……