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Solo: A Star Wars Story Totally Nails The Whole Origin Story Thing

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, there was a pilot who made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs (if you round down). Star Wars fans will be familiar with Han Solo’s legendary feat of flight (one he himself was always happy to repeat), but in Solo: A Star Wars Story we finally get to see how it really played out—and with the price of hyperfuel at a premium, the tale is even more impressive than you’d guess.

Alden Ehrenreich is Han (last name courtesy of a less-than-creative Empire recruitment officer) and his early life on his home planet of Corellia is part Blade Runner, part Oliver Twist. Han started hotwiring speeders at a young age, attempting getaways with an equally plucky fellow orphan/grifter, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). Both Han and Qi’ra are determined to escape the clutches of Proxima, a massive bejewelled worm with arms who’d be the Fagin to Han’s Oliver if we’re sticking with the Dickensian analogy. The big jailbreak doesn’t go off as planned, however, and the two lovebirds are separated—though it’s immediately obvious that this won’t be the last we see of Qi’ra.

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As Han slogs through a long (one might even say a little too drawn-out) fight back to her, we witness the making of Solo, both the man and the myth. There are his early encounters with bespoke cape-wearer and card cheat Lando Calrissian (the brilliant Donald Glover), his initial flight at the controls of the Millennium Falcon, the blossoming of his bromance with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and the unmistakable signs that Han is a natural born criminal with a heart of gold.

Despite rumours that Ehrenreich was making a hash of Harrison Ford’s Han, this younger Solo isn’t half bad. Yes, he’s a tad flat on screen, but there are the occasional flashes of the smugness, sarcasm, and self-confidence that Ford brought to the character. Ehrenreich’s Han, however, is less jaded and heavily armed with an overabundance of optimism which the actor sells well.

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Teamed with Woody Harrelson’s Beckett, Chewie, Calrissian, and droid’s rights activist L3-R7 (made adorable by Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Han slides into the life of an outlaw with ease. The galaxy has yet to harden him. Betrayal and heartbreak are still foreign concepts. The great thing about Solo as an origin story is that it reveals why a character we think we know so well is the way he is. The wins and losses that shaped him are right there on the screen.

And don’t worry, there are more than enough cool chase scenes, scrapes, escapes, and near-death experiences aboard spacecraft both large and small to keep you entertained for the two-hour and twenty-three-minute run time.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is directed by Ron Howard and also stars Paul Bettany and Thandie Newton. The movie blasts into theatres on May 25. Watch the latest trailer below.