Space cowboy rides again

Fan boys and novices alike will enjoy a complete background of everyone’s favorite pirate and smuggler, including Alden Ehrenreich as anti-hero Han Solo in the Ron Howard-directed “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

If he looks familiar, Ehrenreich was in a couple of big-budget disappointments a couple of years back, the first being the Coen Brothers musical “Hail, Caesar!” in 2016 and Warren Beatty’s belly-flop “Rules Don’t Apply” the same year.

Ehrenreich makes for a likable Solo in the title role. He is a young man in love who wants out of his lower-class upbringings so he can make a new life in “a galaxy far, far away.”

Joining him in this adventure is space pirate Beckett (Woody Harrelson), a smuggler of sorts who is paired with girlfriend and confidant Val (Thandie Newton). Also included are alien creatures Rio Durant (voiced by Jon Favreau) and a wookie named Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo).

Donald Glover portrays Lando Calrissian in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

Donald Glover portrays Lando Calrissian in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

At the beginning, Solo’s love interest is Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra, a fellow refugee living day to day on the streets of their foreign planet.

Readers should know this movie is another stand-alone tale in the “Star Wars” universe.  I was somewhat disappointed by “Rogue One:  A ‘Star Wars’ Story’ in 2016 and graded it a B+.

Howard took over the “Solo” project from directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who were fired due to creative differences.  The pair did receive executive producer credits since, I think, it was probably written in the contracts.

“Solo:  A Star Wars Story” contains an abundance of inside jokes only the most familiar will understand, since they refer to previous ‘Star Wars’ films. For example, Beckett’s helmet is an exact replica of the one Lando (Billy Dee Williams) wore in “Star Wars:  Episode VI -- Return of the Jedi.”  It was featured in the scene of Jabba’s palace and the floating barge in the desert.

It’s also amusing to watch Chewbacca age. When Solo finds out he’s 190 years old, he tells Chewbacca, “You look great for your age.”

I had a fun time with the single-shot “Solo:  A Star Wars Story.”  To me, it covered only a portion of the earlier tales in amazing fashion and gave viewers an enjoyable ride. That is exactly what movie viewers have been clamoring for: just a fun time at the movies.