Star Wars: The Story of Han Solo set for take-off | Film | DW | 18.05.2018
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Star Wars: The Story of Han Solo set for take-off

The Star Wars universe just got bigger with the latest sci-fi spin-off that tells the story of the "most beloved scoundrel in the galaxy." Following on from Rogue One, this Han Solo biopic is a space western with bang.

In this latest Star Wars spinoff, young Han desperately wants to be a pilot, undergoes military training with the Imperial forces, then takes off on a wild adventure that leads him and his companions across the galaxy.

The film tells how Han Solo gets his name, how he meets his faithful Wookie friend Chewbacca, and how he gets hold of his spaceship, the Millennium Falcon. It takes place many years before Solo meets Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.

Read moreSolo: A Star Wars Story celebrated at Cannes

The sci-fi saga continues

It sits somewhere between Episode III and Episode IV in the chronology of the burgeoning sci-fi franchise. Those who are not quite at home in the Star Wars universe should remember that Episode IV was the original Star Wars film released in the cinemas 41 years ago, while Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith came much later, in 2005.

Solo: A Star Wars Story was created as a standalone film, yet forms part of the so-called Star Wars anthology that began with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), which details how the rebels attempted to steal the plans for the Death Star.

A man and woman stare at each other (2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™, All Rights Reserved)

Emilia Clarke is Qi’ra and Alden Ehrenreich is Han Solo is the latest Star Wars spinoff

Sometimes referred to as a sci-fi western, Solo is the best popcorn cinema featuring spectacular spaceship maneuvers, epic space-gun shootouts, monstrous alien adversaries, and a good dose of humor.

Director Ron Howard pays homage to the Lucas originals by inventing wonderful creatures and characters that Han Solo encounters at a smuggler's base or in a poker game.

Read more'Star Wars': Disney announces new trilogy

Cashing in

Alden Ehrenreich plays the lead role with great bonhomie. The only thing missing is Harrison Ford's crooked grin. Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke is radiant as Han Solo's girlfriend, Qi'ra, while Woody Harrelson plays shady space gangster Beckett, Paul Bettany is arch villain Dryden, Donald Glover is the gambler and bandit Lando Calrissian, while 2 meter Joonas Suotamo stands tall as Chewbacca.

The script was written by Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan. After The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, this is Lawrence Kasdan's fourth Star Wars script featuring the Han Solo character. And yet, Solo will never be held in the same esteem as these other revered Star Wars masterpieces.

Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (imago/EntertainmentPictures)

A scene from The Empire Strikes Back: it will be hard to compete with the original Star Wars epics

Even if the first appearance of the Millennium Falcon sends a chill down the spine, or if film composer John Powell's reworked Star Wars theme revives those earlier sci-fi opera epics, this installment smells more like money making than anything else. While a lot of fun, with Solo Lucasfilm appears to be squeezing everything it can out of an idea that made a big splash four decades ago but that still works today.

Read more: George Lucas breaks ground on new 'Millennium Falcon-shaped' museum

The universe grows — and grows

Unlimited is space — and just as infinite is the wealth of ideas concealed in the drawers of the Star Wars creators. During the premiere in Cannes, it was rumored that Han Solo's buddy Lando might get his own spin off. Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm president, joked that a Lando standalone movie is being planned following Glover's inspired franchise debut. We shall see.

But for now, the story of Han Solo and Chewbacca will continue if box office takings are as expected. It will be tough, however, to compete with blockbusters like Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2.

Read more'Solo: A Star Wars Story' clip debuts at the Super Bowl

Another rumor is that there are plans to tell a story about the famous Jedi Knight, Obi Wan Kenobi. Maybe the story of Han Solo's friend Qu'ira, who in fact could have potential because she ... Stop, we might be going to far.

Star Wars fans can first look forward to Episode IX, a continuation of the original space saga that will again showcase the heroine Rey and her adversary Kylo Ren while exploring the truth about Rey's parents. Luke Skywalker will also most likely reappear. It's hard to say when it might all end.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is released across Europe on May 24  following its May 10 premiere in the US.

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