When Alden Ehrenreich was officially cast as young Han Solo in the latest Disney Star Wars spin-off, the studio seemed oblivious that fan enthusiasm for this particular origin story wasn’t exactly sky-high.
Worse, during the film’s troubled production of director swaps and re-shoots, there were reports of an acting coach being hired for the lead actor. The rumours were shot down, but it looked as if the odds of Alden successfully navigating Solo were approximately 3,720 to 1.
Considering he looks nothing like Harrison Ford and more like a squeaky-clean escapee from a galactic boy band, newcomers could be forgiven for thinking that the movie was about one young man’s quest for a solo singing career.
Fast forward to the plot…
We meet young Han on his scuzzy home planet of Corellia, long before he rescued a Princess and fathered a Supreme Idiot. He’s serving a slimy crime boss, a bit like Rey did on Jakku. The main difference is that Han and his girlfriend Qi’Ra (Emilia Clarke) obviously have time for trips to the hair salon.
When an escape bid sees Qi’Ra captured, Han signs up for a stint with the Empire. he meets master thief Tobias Beckett – which has to be the least imaginative Star Wars name ever – and his gang. They chuck Han to ‘The Beast’, which turns out to be Chewbacca.
The pair quickly become inseparable. They are drawn into the world of a crime syndicate named Crimson Dawn, where they discover Han’s old flame Qi’Ra has risen through the ranks as a Bond girl-esque femme fatale.
Han, Tobias, Qi’Ra and Chewie devise a daring plan to travel to the mining planet Kessel to steal a batch of the valuable hyperfuel coaxium. In need of a fast ship, Han recruits the help of an old ‘friend’… Lando Calrissian (Dominic Glover).
In the central role, Alden Ehrenreich had the unenviable task of quasi-imitating one of cinema’s most beloved scoundrels. He’s a galaxy away from Ford, but it’s almost easier to reconcile the two than it was to picture Hayden Christensen as the man in the black cowl and breathing mask.
Speaking of Sith Lords, at one point Qi’Ra has an encounter with a certain lightsaber-twirling bad guy from the George Lucas prequel era. The villain seems very happy to get ‘closer’ to Clarke considering he’s meant to be a cyborg below the waist.
The point is that like Rogue One before it, time only stands still when an infamous force-wielder makes a cameo. The film whizzes along as a pulpy, woke adventure, but it completely lacks the awe that Star Wars has inspired in generations of film-goers. It feels as if “Adventures of Young Han” would have been perfectly suited to Disney’s new streaming channel.