Solo: A Star Wars Story ★★★★½

Fuck yeah, Han Solo! Solo is a ripping adventure yarn that does my favorite Star Wars character justice while exploring my favorite part of the Star Wars universe -- its seedy underbelly.

I look to the "A Star Wars Story" branch of the films to explore aspects of the Star Wars universe that the flagship series doesn't always plumb, or at least doesn't plumb as deeply. The galaxy is full of other kinds of stories that still feel fundamentally like Star Wars, and on this front Solo delivers in spades.

I went in wanting them to show two things about Han's history, and on top of handling those two well Solo tied a pretty little bow on a million other aspects of the character's past. It's as respectful of and true to the cinematic source material as The Force Awakens.

Alden Ehrenreich brings a different energy to Han Solo than Harrison Ford, but that's exactly as it should be: Ehrenreich's Han hasn't had a chance to get quite as jaded as Ford's, because he isn't that person (yet). His performance was fantastic, and he was backed up by a killer cast. Donald Glover's Lando is the best (and I can't wait to see a Lando film!), and special mention goes to Joonas Suotamo for making Chewie feel like Chewie. I always enjoy the side characters in Star Wars movies, and L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and Rio Durant (Jon Favreau) were a hoot.

I deliberately set my expectations to Rogue One level (★★★★), not The Force Awakens/The Last Jedi level (★★★★★) -- and Solo exceeded my expectations in every way. Its breakneck packing, rarely pausing for a breath, works beautifully for young Han and the life he leads. It's an absolute blast.