I chose to view Solo: A Star Wars Story at Cineworld IMAX in Telford, UK for the 12:05am screening on the 24th May 2018. My ticket had been secured on May 4th and had arranged to meet up with fellow fans Paul Naylor and Stuart Taylor for the night. Some of you may remember Paul as he used to work with us here at Jedi News, but he was reporting for Fantha Tracks on the night.

When we arrived, we were disappointed that no effort was made by the cinema for the event. There was no Solo related merchandise on offer at the kiosks or IMAX posters available and even worse still was that there was no Millennium Falcon standee for photo opportunities. So, we decided to move the furniture around and improvised our own with the Solo poster on display. I do know that other cinemas in the region did put on events and after a similar experience for The Last Jedi at Telford last December, I will now definitely be looking to change my opening night venue for Episode 9. The foyer remained very quiet up until minutes before the doors opened to the screen and around 70 fans filed in to take their seats.

I have had high hopes for this film since it was announced and must say my mantra has been ‘I have a good feeling about this’ despite what has gone before. From the initial announcement of pre-production to the leadership changes, reshoots and the influence of fan fallout from The Last Jedi, Solo: A Star Wars Story did not have a comfortable ride before it hit the big screen.

But after Kathleen Kennedy relieved Phil Lord and Christopher Miller from their roles and appointed Ron Howard in their place, the ‘ship’ seemed to steady in the waves of the stormy waters of fandom which were quelled by Howard’s fresh approach. This was helped immensely by the increase in fan engagement during the process that he shared via Twitter and Instagram, which have both been used as a very powerful tool and to significant effect.

There seemed to be a buzz of excitement about the place as people quickly dispersed to their cars. It was 2:40am and the prospect of 7am alarm calls for those who were at work that day, made it awkward to stop people to gauge their reactions.

My first impression was this feels like Star Wars and more importantly this IS Star Wars. The plot, sets, locations, characters, props, costumes, everything just felt right.

The plot that Lawrence and Jonathan Kasdan have given us is set around a classic heist scenario which develops the characters we already know and love but does the same for the ones we do not. The homage paid to existing characters and stories set in a galaxy far, far away are a plenty. This helps stitch the story in to the tapestry of the galaxy.

There have been a lot of doubts about Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo. I can understand why, but the pressure on the guy must have been immense. Who else could fill the boots of Harrison Ford? This is a tall task for any actor, but remember he is playing Han Solo, not Harrison Ford. For me he delivers and does a brilliant job. Who knows, could he now be an option for a young Indiana Jones film in the future?

Did we need a Solo movie, or should it have been a movie set around another character? That debate will never stop, but if you put that to one side, forget all the misconceptions and all the calls to boycott seeing this movie for whatever obscure reason. It is a fun, fast paced, rollercoaster of a ride. If this movie didn’t carry the Star Wars brand in its title and it was set in a different galaxy with alternative character names, people would be raving about how good it is

In short, ‘I loved it’ and it would not surprise me to see Ron Howard be invited back into the Star Wars fold for another movie in the future.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is now in cinemas, please check with your local cinema for showtimes and booking information.