While reports had swirled that Ehrenreich, who takes on the role made famous by Harrison Ford, was struggling with the role, most reviewers gave him a thumbs up. But that comic series takes place before Solo: A Star Wars Story, and presumably a big screen spin-off would take place after the events of that movie.
The magazine adds: "Whereas Rogue One tried to convince us it was an effective war movie (which I still don't buy; are war movies usually so boring?) Solo guesses, rightly, that what's being requested of it is pure pleasure". You can see a little bit, but it's certainly not almost as egregious as Justice League, the new gold standard of Frankensteined blockbusters.
In between these shoot-em-ups, Han makes a dash from his grey, industrialised home planet, enlists in and then deserts from the Empire's army, joins a band of robbers, and makes an impressive number of new friends; considering that the film is entitled Solo, it's remarkable how little time its protagonist spends alone. This is A New Hope without the mysticism. That's a youthful Han Solo sitting down to gamble. In this prequel, Solo is played by Alden Ehrenreich who most reviewers felt did an adequate job but well, is just no Ford. An opening text note informs us that "it is a lawless time" in the galaxy far, far away, which means anything could happen and does, which makes for a nice change from the usual "blowing up the Death Star" routine.
Somehow, Solo is able to pack in several surprises. But instead of having an over-arching plot, Solo has a string of tenuously connected, protracted action set pieces, none of which is too coherent, and most of which are obscured by smoke and steam. Here we thought that this might not happen.
As the crew starts to assemble, everything gets much more interesting.
Han is a scavenger who lives in Corellia and works for an overlord who keeps him as a slave. Everyone in the film wears different masks, and at one point a character removes theirs to reveal Warwick Davis, no makeup or alien costume to cover his face.
He tells his girlfriend Qi'ra (Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke) that he wants to be a pilot, the best in the galaxy. Which, admittedly, aren't many, even with Donald Glover reprising Billy Dee Williams' caped mantle as Lando Calrissian.
When bringing to life the story of Han, Chewie and Lando's younger years, I anticipated the movie would touch on well-known beats like the Kessel Run, Chewie's life debt and Han winning the Falcon from Lando.
As the story progresses and alliances shift, I started to think, "OK, we are going to get a deeper look into character development as Alden Ehrenreich plays Han!"
Ehrenreich, who plays the young Solo, isn't the problem with the film, say critics in the film's first reviews released after the embargo broke this morning.
For all the ways Solo could have gone wrong, it wisely aimed for a solid double rather than a grand slam on the first pitch.
One reviewer, New York Post's Johnny Oleksinski, was far more cutting: "Solo, sadly should be frozen forever in carbonite".