Arts & Leisure

“Solo” revives the spirit of “Star Wars”

HAN SOLO (Alden Eirenreich) and Chewbaca (Joonas Suotama) in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

By Jim Tortolano

Many are calling it a flop because of its early box office performance, but “Solo: A Star Wars Story” deserves a better description. As someone who thrilled to the first “Star Wars” film about 40 years ago, I found this latest piece of the saga the best of the prequels which have cluttered up the sci-fi movie landscape.

“Solo” gives us a backstory for Solo (played effectively by Alden Eirenreich), telling how he became the hotshot outlaw pilot turned patriot, and introduces us also to his furry pal, Chewbacca (Joonas Suotama).

Woody Harrelson portrays Tobias Beckett, a crook and mentor to Han in which feels a lot like his work in the “Hunger Games” films. Emilia Clark is Q’ira, the love interest who ends up playing more than one side against others in a lawless world.

Donald Glover is Lando Calrissian, a smuggler and gambler. A chief bad guy is Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), a crime lord with a taste for fine living.

Much has been made of the fact that Ron Howard replaced the original film directors, and about 70 percent of the film was reshot. If so, Howard must have made some solid improvements because “Solo” moves at a brisk pace, has excellent CGI work and recaptures some of the swashbuckling panache of the first “Star Wars” film.

Frankly, the prequels (and the last sequel) never produced the appealing characters (heroes and villains) of the first three. “Solo” hasn’t made big bucks, but it’s a big step in the right direction.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” is rated PG-13 for science fiction violence.

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