Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018; USA; Colour; 135m) ***½ d. Ron Howard; w. Lawrence Kasdan, Jonathan Kasdan; ph. Bradford Young; m. John Powell. Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Warwick Davis, Clint Howard, Richard Dixon, Joonas Suotamo, Sarah-Stephanie, Deepak Anand, Slim Khezri, Ian Kenny, Douglas Robson, Omar Alboukharey, Sean Gislingham, Nathaniel Lonsdale. During an adventure into the criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion. Whilst this STAR WARS spin-off offers nothing particularly new or surprising, considering its troubled production history it remains a surprisingly consistently entertaining adventure. Ehrenreich displays the same roguish charisma as essayed by Harrison Ford and Glover also scores as Lando Calrissian. The action set pieces are effective and avoid the stilted choreography of recent efforts. Whilst the story itself may lack the gravitas and mysticism of its parent, it makes for more simple-minded fun. Although originally brought on board to complete the film after Phil Lord and Christopher Miller had been dismissed due to creative differences, it was widely reported that Howard re-shot more than 80% of the movie. Also shot in 3-D. 
Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017; USA; Colour; 152m) **** d. Rian Johnson; w. Rian Johnson; ph. Steve Yedlin; m. John Williams. Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Domhnall Gleeson, Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Lupita Nyong’o, Anthony Daniels, Andy Serkis, Warwick Davis. Having taken her first steps into the Jedi world, Rey joins Luke Skywalker on an adventure with Leia, Finn and Poe that unlocks mysteries of the Force and secrets of the past. Highly entertaining action-packed addition to the saga, which revisits many of the themes explored earlier in the series and as such may seem overly familiar. The basic chase plot is stretched a little with some lazy progressions, but despite its length the film doesn’t stand still for long nor does it outstay its welcome. Hamill and Fisher feature more heavily and there are one or two twists along the way, but its mid-trilogy position inevitably leaves certain issues unresolved. The visual effects and location work are exemplary. Also shot in 3-D. 
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016; USA; Colour; 134m) ∗∗∗½ d. Gareth Edwards; w. Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll, Gary Whitta; ph. Greig Fraser; m. Michael Giacchino. Cast: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jonathan Aris, Jimmy Smits, Alistair Petrie, Genevieve O’Reilly, Valene Kane, Warwick Davis. A Rebellion soldier and criminal, is about to experience her biggest challenge yet when Mon Mothma sets her out on a mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. Visually stunning and action-packed lead in to the original STAR WARS trilogy that cleverly lays the foundations. This instalment has a darkness emphasised by the impressive production design and often bleak locales. The new characters, however, lack any real depth as they are simply cyphers for the set-up. The performances also lack spark and chemistry – the actors delivering sometimes stilted and forced dialogue – but there remains a spirit to this adventure that suggests there is longevity in the franchise. Also shot in 3-D. 
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015; USA; FotoKem; 135m) ∗∗∗∗½ d. J. J. Abrams; w. J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, Michael Arndt; ph. Daniel Mindel; m. John Williams. Cast: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Greg Grunberg, Kenny Baker, Simon Pegg, Katie Jarvis, Christina Chong, Miltos Yerolemou, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Ken Leung, Harriet Walter, Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Warwick Davis, Jessica Henwick, Daniel Craig, Billie Lourd, Judah Friedlander. 30 years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat rises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a ragtag group of Heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance. Fans of the original trilogy will love this continuation and overlook some of its flaws – notably in originality in plot and character development. But this is the start of a new trilogy that also succeeds in capturing the spirit of those first three films. The result is a lively, action-packed and thoroughly enjoyable addition to the series. It’s great to see Ford back as Han Solo and his scenes will give older fans a warming and satisfied smile. Also shot in 3-D.