LOS ANGELES, May 15 (Reuters) - Movie critics welcomed a new Han Solo into the "Star Wars" galaxy, giving generally positive marks to Walt Disney Co's origin story for one of the sci-fi franchise's most popular characters.
"Solo: A Star Wars Story" received a 71 percent positive score on film website Rotten Tomatoes on Tuesday, the day the first reviews were released. The movie starts rolling out in international theaters on May 23.
The film endured a rocky path to the screen. Original co-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired midway through production, and Disney asked Oscar-winning "A Beautiful Mind" director Ron Howard to come in to oversee extensive reshoots.
Critics who liked the movie said Howard had succeeded in making a fun film that should satisfy the franchise's fervent fans.
"While 'Solo' hasn't completely overcome the long odds, those harboring a love of the franchise should come away, ultimately, with a good feeling about this," wrote Brian Lowry of CNN.com.
Alden Ehrenreich, 28, stepped into the role of Solo, made famous by Harrison Ford in the original "Star Wars" trilogy that began in 1977. Ehrenreich plays a younger Solo at the start of his pilot training when he becomes involved in a dangerous mission.
Ehrenreich won praise from many critics for making the role his own without imitating Ford.
"Things do feel shaky at first, but there's spunk to Ehrenreich's delivery and, once he settles in, a twinkle in his eye," said Bob Mondello of National Public Radio.
Brian Truitt of USA Today said Ehrenreich "does the character justice, mainly because he's a different Han than previously seen."
"This guy's all wide-eyed gumption and smirking confidence - not the cynic who gets a crash course in the Force later in life," Truitt said.
Other critics felt Ehrenreich did not meet the high expectations for the part.
"In a role that demands greatness, he is, in a word, okay," wrote Nick Schager of The Daily Beast, adding that the movie "sacrifices Han Solo's swagger for a bland origin story."
Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Peter Cooney