Movies

Movie review: 'Solo'

So much money, so much talent, but only a so-so story

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The question about how Han Solo could make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs is finally answered. Now, snooty know-it-alls pontificating over how "a parsec is not a measurement of speed" can go sit in a corner and play Donkey Kong on their Playstations. Really, dude.

But, it is pretty funny how director Ron Howard made sure to answer that conundrum left over since the '80s in a movie clearly designed for millennials who are only now getting a taste of the long ago and far, far away.

In the new Star Wars spinoff "Solo," actor Alden Ehrenreich gives it the old college try to subplant the image of a rakish young Harrison Ford with his interpretation of the galaxy's favorite "nerf herder" in the audience's mind. He does pretty well, but he would have done better if Howard and the rest of the Disney suits behind the whole Star Wars extended universe actually started writing original scripts that spinoff from the themes instead of obviously trying to connect the dots between this movie and "A New Hope." (Greedo, watch out.)

What this movie does, however, is give fans a chance to see Han scrape his way up from the mean streets of a desolate planet called Corellia as the Empire has begun to flex its muscles over vulnerable populations of outer system planets. We get to see how he got his surname, for instance, and how he started to make a more infamous name for himself as a smuggler. What we didn't know is that it was all in the name of a pretty young woman named Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke).

Corellia is one of those planets everyone wants to an escape from, but finding the right way is really tough. For Han, a chance meeting with a certain wookie helps provide that opportunity. The only problem is that he and Qi-ra are separated as a crucial moment leaving Han vowing to find a way to make his way back to rescue her. That, as they say, is easier said than done.

One of Han's ambitions is to become a pilot, partly to get back to Qi'ra, but also because it's something he's always dreamed about. A brief stint in the Imperial Flight Academy gives him certain skills but not the ambition to become a by-the-book pilot.

Unfortunately, all of this running around that, on one hand gives us some interesting backstory to Han Solo, and on the other seems to the lay the groundwork for a possible sequel, really accomplishes a roundabout way to get us back to the whole Qi'ra question and what happened to her after she and Han were separated. That, and how a smuggler named Beckett (Woody Harrelson) figures in the twists near the end.

Obviously, she didn't find a cozy safe place to pine away for her boyfriend, but the answer may turn out to be far different.

In the meantime, one of the more interesting people in this universe has always been the crafty, charismatic smuggler Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), from whom Han wins the beloved Millennium Falcon starship in a card game. Lando, as played by Glover, is so larger-than-life and interesting that at one point one wonders why the Disney suits decided to plan a feature on more-peripheral figure Boba Fett rather than Lando.

As for Ehrenreich, he's good but he just doesn't embody the peculiar charm of Harrison Ford in the role he originated. Still, this movie, like the recent "Rebel One," feels like one of those knock-off novelizations that seem fun to read but aren't quite part of the real story.

"Solo: A Star Wars Story" is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/ violence.

It is showing daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

The following was compiled from press materials.

Isle of Dogs

MPAA rating: PG-13 for thematic elements and some violent images

Movies at at the TCA

In this stop-motion-animated film from writer-producer-director Wes Anderson, an outbreak of canine flu in Japan leads all dogs to be quarantined on an island. Atari (voice of Koyu Rankin) journeys there to rescue his dog Spots (Liev Schreiber)  and gets help from a pack of misfit canines who have also been exiled.

In a dystopian near-future Japan, a dog-flu virus spreads throughout the canine population. Though one scientist, Professor Watanabe, is close to finding a cure, the authoritarian mayor of Megasaki City, Kobayashi, signs a decree banishing all dogs to Trash Island. The first exile is Spots, who belonged to Atari Kobayashi, the orphaned nephew and ward of the mayor.

Six months later, Atari steals a plane and flies to Trash Island to search for Spots. After a crash-landing, he is rescued by a pack of dogs led by a dog named Chief. They decide to help Atari locate Spots, although Chief, a former stray, is reluctant to fraternize with humans.

They fend off a rescue team sent by Kobayashi to retrieve Atari. At the insistence of a female purebreed named Nutmeg, Chief reluctantly decides to accompany the group on their search. They seek advice from two sage dogs, Jupiter and Oracle, who warn them of cannibal dogs on an isolated part of the island.

Professor Watanabe finds a cure but is poisoned by Kobayashi. American exchange student Tracy Walker suspects a conspiracy and begins to investigate. She confronts Watanabe’s former colleague Yoko Ono, who confirms Tracy’s suspicions and gives her the last dose of the cure.

The voice cast also includes Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban, Greta Gerwig and Yoko Ono.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (June 3), and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (June 4-6).

Movies at the TCA film series, Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

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