As of this writing, I’ve seen Solo, the latest Star Wars movie, twice. It’s been out for one day. Maybe I don’t need to say that I liked it a lot, but I do want to note that while I loved it when I saw it for the first time during Thursday previews, I really loved it when I saw it on Friday, it’s official opening day.
Much has been written (by the people who get paid to write about movies and things) about Solo‘s semi-troubled production. Since the original directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord were replaced by Ron Howard, it’s been alternately claimed that part of their clash with Disney/LucasFilm execs was about their desire to make eithet a grittier movie or a goofier, Guardians of the Galaxy-esque one. In the end, Solo is stronger for having been made by Howard, who sure does know how to make a good, kind of old-fashioned movie. That’s what this ended up being. It’s good and fun, not very predictable, with good performances, great visuals, and fun capers.
Much has also been made of Disney’s decision to bring in an acting coach for Aldon Ehrenreich, the actor given the unenviable task of trying to create a satisfying young version of Harrison Ford’s iconic character. I don’t know what struggled Ehrenreich had–or if he even had any, as he has claimed the acting coach was hired to support the entire cast–but I do know that he nails it. There will always be people who had their own idea of what Young Han should be like, but Ehrenreich did as well as–if not better than–anyone could have realistically expected.
The thing is, Han Solo as portrayed by Harrison Ford is not a character who can carry a movie. Han Solo as portrayed as Aldon Ehrenreich is. Ford’s Solo is iconic–he’s simultaneously clever and lucky, swashbuckling and sentimental, arrogant and desperate for validation. But he’s able to be all of those things because we are seeing him in relation to other characters who carry more of the story. How does an actor do all of that while also carrying the story in its entirety? The movie is called Solo, after all.