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Film Critic: You'll Be Captivated by the Ride 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' Gives You

Photo by Jonathan Olley/Jonathan Olley /Lucasfilm Ltd.
2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.2018 - Lucasfilm Ltd.
Alden Ehrenreich and Joonas Suotamo in Solo: A Star Wars Story

Movie fans and film critics alike are perhaps feeling a little anxious for Solo: A Star Wars Story to be released on the big screen. During its rocky production, Solo saw a change of directors from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller to veteran filmmaker Ron Howard (which came with months of re-shoots).

Plus, how would the film fare when its main character Han Solo was defined by actor Harrison Ford? Well, turns out that it fared very well for Lake Effect's film contributor and arts and entertainment editor for the Shepherd Express, Dave Luhrssen.

"It could have been a disaster as with anything else, but I think that the screenplay and the final direction by Ron Howard, as well as the cast - they pulled it off," he says.

The latest installment in the series of stand-alone Star Wars films, Solo is a personal look into the character's first defining adventures in dark criminal underworlds years before joining the Rebellion.

"The movie really looks at harsher realities without becoming a dark movie somehow. It's brilliantly toned in that kind of way," notes Luhrssen. "(It gives) us many of the pieces of the puzzle of what constituted (Han Solo's) personality, of why he was the way he was and it works well."

He adds, "I don't think that you need an enormous amount of back knowledge to get into the film, but if you are a Star Wars fan I think you'll be captivated by the ride the film gives you."

From the beginning, the audience is thrown into Solo's misadventures and follows an intricate heist. The pacing of the film is very effective, Luhrssen says. "It's swift, but steady; unrelenting, but not exhausting. I think that with a few loose ends in the plot line as things were constructed I think the movie works very well."

In addition to the movement of the plot, he says, the tone of the film rings loud and clear for dedicated fans of the franchise. It was written by father and son team Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan - Lawrence has been a key role in Star Wars stories since The Empire Strikes Back.

Luhrssen says this deep understanding of the films shows. "That is apparent in virtually every scene in this movie. I feel that this movie delivers what a Star Wars fan from the beginning of the whole saga would want in a Star Wars movie. Keeping to the George Lucas spirit is not a bad idea."

As for the portrayl of the younger versions of iconic characters, Luhrssen says that Alden Ehrenreich (Solo) delivers an outstanding performance. "I've seen Alden in movies but he never particularly left an impression on me until Solo."

And for everyone's favorite smuggler Lando Calrissian (originally portrayed by Billy Dee Williams), Luhrssen says Donald Glover "is marvelous" in his role. "Smooth as silk and just as slippery in his role as Lando."

Only the box office numbers will tell whether or not there may be more Han Solo movies to come, but thankfully, he says, the pilot film delivers. "This was certainly not a train wreck - it was a fast-moving train that got to its destination."

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Audrey is a producer, host and reporter for Lake Effect. She is involved with every aspect of the show — from conducting interviews, editing audio, posting web stories and mixing the show together.
David Luhrssen is arts and entertainment editor of the Shepherd Express, co-founder of the Milwaukee International Film Festival and co-author of A Time of Paradox: America Since 1890. He is the winner of the Pace Setter Award for contributions to Milwaukee's film community from the Milwaukee Independent Film Society. David Luhrssen has taught at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and Milwaukee Area Technical College.