Charming, action-packed and wrapped up in a nice neat package. SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY delivers a classic Disney tale, featuring vintage elements from the original films, with a stellar cast and memorable moments. This was one of the most anticipated premiers of Cannes, being placed in the Out of Competition category, and brought about some of the highest security and cheers of the festival. For a fairly tranquil year of the 71st Cannes Film Festival, the cast and crew brought along an injection of excitement to the red carpet.
The film follows a young Han, played by Alden Ehrenreich, in early adulthood as he attempts to escape Corellia from which he is stuck on with Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke). The journey sees them going about their lives a few years on, the meeting with his future wookie co-pilot, and exploration across other light years. We also get to see a star-studded cast of companions along the way, including the delightful show-stealing Donald Glover, a composed Thandie Newton and a classic Woody Harrelson – who came up to say hello to us on the edge of the red carpet before being ushered away by security. The plot follows Han and Chewie as they search for carbonite as a way of payment to get their own ship and explore the galaxy, where they meet some surprising and unsavoury characters along the way. Some elements were on occasion predictable, which is typical of a prequel, but the landscape shots were simply divine, and the action sequences excellently executed. Being shot in the 21st century with access to top-notch VFX brought the universe to life and helped the film to flow magnificently.
SOLO received three rounds of cheering at the morning and only repeat screening, with a more polite round of applause on the way. It had a nice shiny, squeaky Disney feel to it and did lack the rugged authenticity of the other films. Nevertheless, director Ron Howard managed to succeed in preventing the piece from spiralling into the expected production disaster, after Christopher Miller and Phil Lord left. Clarke and Ehrenreich were very watchable and had great chemistry. They were, however almost too polished and had that “straight out of drama school” presence. It is an incredibly tough act to follow, and emulating Harrison Ford’s spark is no easy feat, and it was executed. This is not necessarily a criticism, but they appear very nice and kind in person, and these roles require a bit more gumption. Harrelson made up for that with his brazen humour and casual demeanour, with many chuckling at Chewie’s clearly sarcastic growls. There was a magnificent firework display on the beach after the Cannes screening, lasting for almost 10 minutes and lighting up every part of The Croisette. The evening had brought about life to the mid-week slump, and the same energy could be felt the following morning.
All in all, the film was successful in going out to achieve what it needed to, and met applause from both critics and the public. The Hollywood glow helped to brighten up the evening and the spirits of the festival goers. While not exactly setting the world alight, it was a wonderful, energy-packed film that hit all the right notes, and gained the approval of the Riviera.