‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ review: Origin tale leaves us wanting more young Han

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

Directed by Ron Howard

Starring Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover, Joonas Suotamo

Rated PG-13

The history of “Star Wars” prequels is spotty at best, with episodes one through three going from bad to boring to actually pretty good.

And then there’s the animated series like “Clone Wars” and others, which are really well done. And we’re not even going to mention all the books, comics and video games that aren’t even canon.

The latest origin tale, “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” falls solidly into the above average faction, an exciting adventure which answers some questions and shows how everyone’s favorite pilot (played by Alden Ehrenreich) got to be the man we knew across the original trilogy and beyond.

“Solo” starts on Han’s homeworld of Corellia, where he’s a street rat of sorts, showing glimpses of the smuggler he’s destined to become. He’s trying to escape with his girl Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), breaking free of the gang life they’re entrenched in. Han escapes, while Qi’ra is caught, sending him alone on an adventure with Stormtroopers, aliens and a mentor in Woody Harrelson’s Beckett.

Along the way, holes in the “Star Wars” history are filled, showing how Han meets Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo, taking on the role from Peter Mayhew), his first encounter with Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover, professional scene stealer) and his first encounter with perhaps his one true love, the Millennium Falcon (OK, fine, his second love after Leia). There’s also some fun new characters, including Thandie Newton’s tough Val, who is Beckett’s partner, and L3-37, Lando’s sassy droid companion (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge).

With the Falcon, you can also finally experience the legendary Kessel Run, which Han bragged about in “A New Hope.” “You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon? It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.” It’s a doozy, for sure.

The film is a caper/heist adventure. Get the MacGuffin to the bad guy — in this case, Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), who runs the Crimson Dawn, a criminal operation that is up to no good. Of course, there are twists and double-crosses and lots of zings and one-liners. This is, of course, a Han Solo film.

This filmed faced its share of problems in production, most notably when the original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller exited the film after butting heads with producer Kathleen Kennedy and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan. In comes Oscar-winning director Ron Howard, who turns out a fun diversion for 2 hours or so. It’s not in the upper echelon of “Star Wars” movies, but it will likely leave you wanting to see more of young Han.