How did Han Solo and Chewbacca become an inseparable duo? And why does the scoundrel always shoot first? “Solo: A Star Wars Story”, which celebrates its free TV premiere on Sunday, answers these and many other questions
A filthy space scoundrel sits in an even filthier bar on Tatooine and slams his counterpart without hesitation – because we all know: “Han shot first!”. With this little glorious action, the cinema audience got to know Harrison Ford’s (78) Han Solo in 1977 and love it almost immediately. At his side is a loyal and oversized bedside rug named Chewbacca, whose growls and gurgles Han can easily understand.
The “War of stars” portrayed Solo’s only sporadically illuminated past, his intimate friendship with Chewie and his love for his flying scrap heap, the Millennium Falcon, as a mystery. “Solo: A Star Wars Story”, which celebrates its free TV premiere on November 22nd ( 8:15 p.m., ProSieben), gives the irrefutable answers to all these legendary stations in the life of the charming crook – and even to questions that no one has ever asked.
Unwilling villain: That’s what “Solo” is about
About a decade before Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich, 30) meets a certain Luke Skywalker in the Cantina Bar, the intergalactic gunslinger makes his way as a petty criminal on his home planet Corellia. Together with his great love Qi’Ra (Emilia Clarke, 34), he dreams of leaving the industrial-style Malocher planet as quickly as possible. But when the young lovers finally get the chance, Han and Qi’ra are separated from each other at the last second. With the firm intention of saving his lady of the heart, Han makes a momentous decision – and enrolls as a pilot with the Empire’s troops.
But because the impetuous daredevil doesn’t even think about obeying orders, he quickly ends up as cannon fodder at the forefront. In the imperial trenches he finally met his mentor Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson, 59), with whom he was to go on his first big raid a few detours later. Incidentally, one of these detours is a seven-foot-tall, 190-year-old Wookiee named Chewbacca.
It goes very fast
Only five months after “The Last Jedi” buzzed across the worldwide canvases, another trick with the lightsaber came on the screen in 2018 with “Solo: A Star Wars Story”. But while the latest main trilogy plus the first spin-off called “Rogue One” led to fanatical trailer sightings in the run-up, the big hype about “Solo” did not materialize – also at the box office. Even the most zealous hobby Jedi looked a little tired from the star war back then. So it came in handy that the finale of the Skywalker saga, “The Rise of Skywalker”, took until December 2019 to avoid the final “Star Wars” overkill.
Nevertheless, “Solo” felt like a gap filler for a long time until the grand finale of the new trilogy. The big problem with the film by Ron Howard (66) is that he provides the prehistory of Han with all the fragments that we knew from the daredevil from sagas – but works them off like a tally sheet and leaves little tension.
Solo is a stage name
Han Solo’s meeting with Chewbacca – check. Han Solo’s meeting with Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover, 37) – check. Winning the Millennium Falcon plus the infamous Kessel flight in record time – check and check. Around all these fateful encounters and actions there is unfortunately a rather generic story of lies, deceit and counter-deception that never really grabs you. And did we really need to know why Han’s last name is Solo? Why is the Millennium Falcon a little diva sometimes? And did we ever want to hear Han yell like a Wookiee?
The first “Star Wars” spin-off “Rogue One” managed to cleverly fill one of the biggest logic gaps (in the truest sense of the word) in the original from 1977. “Solo” on the other hand feels like the uninspired “Origin Story” of a superhero, of which we have truly been able to marvel at more than enough in the last few years.
Admittedly, handing in the youth of one of the most famous film characters in cinema history was an almost impossible task, to put it mildly, because: In the more than 40-year-old idea of Solo’s past, most fans imagined it all to be far more spectacular. Which only reinforces the feeling that not every stone in the galaxy far, far away has to be turned over.
The points of light
But where there is a lot of shadow, there is also light. The initial prophecies of doom about the casting of Ehrenreich were definitely premature. He can’t quite fill in the gigantic footsteps of a Harrison Ford – who could do that – but it’s not because of him that, despite the enchanting look and great effects, there is little “Star Wars” atmosphere overall.
Donald Glover as the flirtatious wannabe dude Lando is one of the highlights of the film. You really buy from him to be the young version of Billy Dee Williams (83). And Woody Harrelson does his job well, serving the young Han Solo as a mentor and giving him one or the other life wisdom that he later internalized – always shoot first, for example.
Of course, many fans from the very beginning are too nostalgic for many aspects of Disney’s major offensive in the Star Wars. But it is precisely from this nostalgia that “Solo: A Star Wars Story” draws like no other film in the series before it, which is why the above points of criticism are quite justified. It’s not up to the actors that “Solo” is a disappointment. Probably because the film by Ron Howard deconstructs a legendary figure, whose mysterious past made sure that he matured into such an icon. In all galaxies.