I'm not excited for 'Solo: A Star Wars Story.' What's going on?


Not necessarily in tone, although it occasionally suffers from a disappointing lack of humor for stretches at a time. But he's hardly afforded enough screen time to even have a chance to upstage the title character and we're left to wait for his own inevitable spin-off.

As ever with big films, there was a spike in people checking to see if they should wait around until the end of the credits for a special teaser - a trend we can all blame on Marvel Studios. Now that he's in Solo, it's a big deal and the future of Star Wars spider webs in a million different possible directions. Every part of it tends to act as a summation of the whole endeavor.

So much Star Wars yet to come.

IN THE 2016 Coen Brothers comedy "Hail, Caesar!", Alden Ehrenreich portrays Hobie Doyle, a singing cowboy performer in the loose midcentury mold of a Gene Autry or Tex Ritter - a role that presaged some real-life rumors around the new "Solo: A Star Wars Story".

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I don't remember Ford's character's name in that movie, but it may as well have been Han Solo. There are fantastic set pieces, moments of romance and high drama, evil dudes in black capes, quippy side characters, and (going hand-in-hand with that last bit) poignant death scenes. Ron Howard took over, and the result is - like a lot of Howard's output - capably made, if not exactly inspiring.

Ford is allegedly a fan, with director Ron Howard telling Variety that it has his seal of approval. Obi-Wan Kenobi totally sliced that fan-favorite Sith Lord in half in the first Star Wars prequel nearly 20 years ago.

What most of you really want to know is how good is Alden Ehrenreich? We're working our way through.

"It's more Star Tours than 'Star Wars, '" wrote Brian Raftery for Wired. In the case of Rogue One, Lucasfilm had just enough Darth Vader to wet the appetite of fans without overshadowing the film's main characters. Certainly Lucas had the archetype in mind when he created Han, an outer space hot-rodder whose Millennium Falcon is the fastest getaway vehicle in the galaxy - making outlaw Han the uncatchable Bandit to an interstellar Smokey in an Imperial Cruiser.

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Having said that, it moves briskly and confidently, betraying very little of the infamous creative shuffling that went on behind the scenes. In a way, that makes sense since the Star Wars series - at over 40 - is older, more mature and more polished.

Woody Harrelson and Thandie Newton are other standouts in the film. But as in "Rogue One", many scenes in "Solo" are stolen by an android known as L3-37 (Brit Phoebe Waller-Bridge of TV's "Fleabag"), who demands equal rights and has a amusing relationship with Lando that's suggestive of a sci-fi screwball comedy. Sporting a collection of dynamite capes and Billy Dee Williams' charismatic wink, Glover is absolutely magnetic as Lando, and the only reason he doesn't steal the movie out from under Ehrenreich is that he has the good manners not to.

It is said that Howard, the veteran Hollywood director of classics such as Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind, reshot more than 80% of the film - and you can't really tell. This sort of relief is similar to what I felt after Justice League - it's nearly like trying out a shady new eatery and not getting an upset stomach three days later - although the cracks were more pronounced in that film.

As for Ehrenreich, who clearly had the harder job, he's more than up to the task of playing a charming thief and fast-talking rogue. Only knowing scraps of his backstory makes him intriguing and magnetic; knowing all of it just makes him some guy.

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