The first reviews for Solo: A Star Wars Story are in.
The film sees Alden Ehrenreich take over from Harrison Ford as the titular smuggler, and critics largely laud his and Donald Glover's performances as younger incarnations of these iconic Star Wars characters. Director Ron Howard's action choreography during the film's major set pieces and Bradford Young's grittier cinematography also pulled in praise, but many critics note there isn't much more than perfunctory plot points and fan service underneath the hood of this Star Wars spinoff. Ultimately, not everyone was enamored with the genre-blending Star Wars origin story, with several critics put off by the film's pacing, contemplating if it proves itself a worthy addition to the Star Wars canon.
Meg Downey, CBR: "Solo: A Star Wars Story isn’t really concerned in making a lot of sense to people who aren’t already bought-and-sold for the Star Wars mythos as they walk in the door. It seems to proceed under the assumption that it doesn’t really need to put forth any extra effort to flesh out the world because anyone paying attention will be to busy nodding sagely at the references it jingles in front of them... The story progresses under the hollow hope that all the work has already been done for it, like a kid trying to bluff their way through a classroom discussion for a reading they didn’t do."
Molly Freeman, ScreenRant: "Ultimately, Solo: A Star Wars Story delivers on what was promised: an entertaining enough origin story for Han Solo that explains how he became the smuggler introduced in A New Hope. Beyond that, the movie takes very few risks and offers very few surprises. (Though, arguably, casting someone new in a role as iconic as Han Solo and attempting to deliver a prequel film that pleases fans both new and old is risky enough.) Certainly, Solo will be an exciting romp for fans of Han, Chewie and Lando, but offers little reason to care about the goings on of the movie beyond seeing these three come full circle to the original trilogy."
Germain Lussier, io9: "The whole film hinges on Ehrenreich’s portrayal of a younger, still-developing version of the legendary character, and I’m happy to report he nails it. The performance balances the wide-eyed wonder of a kid finally exploring the galaxy, Han’s complex internal struggles, and the knowledge that this character will evolve into Harrison Ford’s 1977 portrayal. To do all of that, Ehrenreich presents a version of Han that feels nuanced, measured and starts a little shaky. Whether that’s on purpose or not, it works because he’s always growing at the same time Han is. There are times Ehrenreich is unrecognizable as Han Solo. Other times, he’s the living embodiment of Harrison Ford. It’s an impressive, slightly choppy performance, but one that wins you over quickly and smooths out over the course of the movie."
Kyle Anderson, Nerdist: "Solo: A Star Wars Story doesn’t reach the heights of daring of The Last Jedi, but it’s a movie designed to be safe, familiar, and smile-inducing, all while watching characters we grew up with be young and brash. If you heard Han or Lando mention something of their backstory in A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back, you’re gonna see it played out here, but it’s more a function of the story rather than the point. And as we know Ehrenreich is signed on for more movies, Solo does a good job of setting up the intrigue of that saga, while taking care of most of the 'oh THAT’s where that came from' moments so the later films don’t have to. More exciting were the references to things from The Clone Wars and nods to what’s to come in Star Wars Rebels, which are there if you’re looking for them."
Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter: "Despite the intermittent lags, the production proves to be more than a salvage operation thanks mainly to those engagingly choreographed performances, led by an irresistibly charismatic title turn from Alden Ehrenreich, who ultimately claims Solo as his own even if he doesn’t entirely manage to convince us he’s Harrison Ford. Although the end result will unlikely find itself occupying an upper berth in the Star Wars movie pantheon, there’s enough here to satisfy the fan base and give Disney a very strong turnout... when it opens Memorial Day weekend."
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly: "It’s pure fan service. And if that’s what you’re after, then you’ll be more than satisfied. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for the sort of jaw-dropping visual grandeur and epic poetry of The Last Jedi (not to mention the original trilogy), then you’ll probably be a little nonplussed. Solo feels like a placeholder, a wafer-thin palate cleanser before the next big course. It’s the very definition of 'solid' and 'competent.' Nothing more, nothing less. Trust me."
Andrew Barker, Variety: "Though burdened with a slow start and enough thirsty fan-service to power Comic-Con’s Hall H for a decade, it has a kicky, kinetic heist movie at its heart, and its action sequences are machine-tooled spectacles of the first order. Its performances, starting with Alden Ehrenreich as the young Han Solo and extending to the film-stealing Donald Glover as his wily frenemy Lando Calrissian, are consistently entertaining. And thanks to cinematographer Bradford Young, Solo allows for moments of real grit and something approaching interstellar realism amid all of the expectedly topnotch VFX."
Mara Reinstein, Us Weekly: "A stand-alone origin tale about your favorite scoundrel, Solo is an uneven mash-up of lone outlaw Western, heist caper, longtime unrequited romance and old-fashioned space adventure. The film is largely free of the 41-year-old mythology that’s made the past two Star Wars episodes unmissable box-office smashes. This is good for those that want to be unburdened by the subtle nuances of Darth Vader’s legacy — and bad for those that view these Star Wars stand-alone pics as filler stop-gaps in between the Big Show."
Alonso Duralde, The Wrap: "Solo is less a movie than it’s that page in Highlights Magazine that makes you feel good for finding the chair and the bicycle in the hidden picture. As an intergalactic adventure, it’s mostly adequate, with some very successful elements, but if you stripped the Star Wars names and places and put it into the world as a free-standing sci-fi-action movie, it’s doubtful that it would spawn much excitement, let alone sequels."
Sam Adams, Slate: "Solo isn’t the worst Star Wars movie -- your record is safe, The Phantom Menace -- just the one with the least compelling reason to exist. But being unmemorable doesn’t mean it’s unlikable. There’s too much collective charisma for that, from Alden Ehrenreich’s wavy-haired Han to Donald Glover’s sex-bomb Lando Calrissian, with Woody Harrelson and Thandie Newton as galaxy-hopping outlaws, Emilia Clarke as a galaxy-seducing femme fatale, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the voice of a sarcastic droid. (Paul Bettany, as the ostensible heavy, mostly seems like he’s clocking time between Infinity Wars.) Cinematographer Bradford Young lends the movie a dark and distinctive look, although his compositions feel hemmed in by the series’ overall stylistic parameters, and Pietro Scalia’s editing gives the action sequences a pleasing snap that makes you wish the combination of Howard’s Rush and Apollo 13 played as well on screen as it does on paper."
Kristy Puchko, Pajiba: "I wish I could tell you Solo is a riotous adventure and a total blast. But its first-hour is such a slog that I instinctively reached for my phone. I was so bored that I had the impulse to distract myself as if I was at home watching some TV rerun... Things do pick up deep into act two. Finally, the film cruises into consistently snappy banter and tense face-offs. But frankly, I expect wall-to-wall fun -- be it excitement or laughs -- in a movie centered on Han Solo. So I can’t help but wonder what Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who brought such non-stop fun to The LEGO Movie and 21 Jump Street, would have brought to Solo had they been allowed to finish it their way."
Directed by Ron Howard, Solo: A Star Wars Story stars Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo, Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, Emilia Clarke as Qi’ra and Joonas Suotamo as Chewbacca. They’re joined by Thandie Newton as Val, Phoebe Waller-Bridge L3-37, Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos, and Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett. The film opens May 25.