I have to admit that I felt a certain amount of trepidation when Disney/Lucasfilm announced they were going to produce a film concerning the younger days of Han Solo. The main reason for my worries was the fact that Harrison Ford would not be starring in the movie.
Unlike characters such as James Bond or Batman, Han Solo was created solely for the big screen. He didn't come from a literary or comic book source. Harrison Ford for all intents and purposes IS Han Solo, and the idea of someone else successfully taking up the mantle seemed out of reach for me.
But I do have to say that SOLO is a fun, entertaining film, and Alden Ehrenreich did a better job than I expected. He's not Harrison Ford--how he could he be?--but he's fine as a younger Solo who is still learning his way around the universe. Ehrenreich's Solo is full of moxie, but he's not at full Han swagger yet. The actor's portrayal of the iconic role works within the confines of this particular story.
SOLO shows how Han's upbringing contributed to his later cynical roguish persona. While Luke Skywalker grew up on Tatooine dreaming of adventure, Han Solo grew up on Corellia just trying to survive. In this movie the Galactic Empire is still trying to assert control over most of the galaxy, while various criminal groups take advantage of the chaotic situation. The young Han gets involved in piratical activities which lead him to meet up with Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, and the one real love of his life, the Millennium Falcon.
If ROGUE ONE was essentially a WWII tale, then SOLO is a heist film. It also has a lot more humor than ROGUE ONE. It isn't a total joke-fest, however--there's no need for me to go into the numerous production problems the film suffered through. There's plenty here to interest hardcore Star Wars fans, such as an example of what it was like for an ordinary Imperial military grunt (suffice to say, it wasn't good). We get to see the famed Kessel run, and the film makes emphatically clear that the animated series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS and STAR WARS: REBELS are absolutely canon.
Donald Glover all but steals the film as Lando (truth be told, the real scene-stealer is the almost brand spanking new Millennium Falcon), and Emilia Clarke does very well as young Han's sort-of-girlfriend. If there is a sequel to SOLO, the ultimate fate of Clarke's character will definitely have to be addressed.
All in all, I though SOLO was an enjoyable experience. It's not a great film--it's certainly not on the level of ROGUE ONE--but it is a good time at the movie theater, and the bigger a Star Wars fan you are, the more you will appreciate it. I have to comment that right now on the internet--despite the fact that the film hasn't even played the full Memorial Day weekend yet in the U. S.--many are calling the movie's box office take as "underwhelming". Has it gotten to the point that if a franchise film does not break every money record on its first day in the theater, it is considered a dud?? I know there are several folks out there worried about the oversaturation of the Star Wars Universe, and I do share some of those concerns. (I did write a blog post not that long ago on the subject called "How Much Ice Cream Can You Eat?") Eventually there will probably be a Star Wars-based movie or TV show that I don't get around to see. But for now, all I can say is I went and saw SOLO, and I liked it.