Is the Force starting to flag? Or is the time right for another quick spin through that galaxy far, far away?

And just how many Irish people are you likely to meet there because space, or at least the sci-fi space of Star Wars, is becoming an increasingly Irish affair.

From Liam Neeson to Domhnall Gleeson to Skellig Michael to even newcomer Ian Kenny (the young Dubliner who plays a tough as nails character called Rebolt in the latest installment) there's an increasingly green tint to that famous intergalactic saga.

It's been a startling 41 years since the world first met the original charismatic space pirate Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in the first ever Star Wars. That film, which arrived in the age of disco and Saturday Night Fever, literally changed history, becoming the most successful and influential movie ever made, and for decades after becoming the blockbuster by which all the others are judged.

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First though let's start with Irish newcomer Ian Kenny, the 20 something redhead who has landed a coveted role in the multimillion dollar new film.

The young Irish actor came to the attention of casting agents in the UK and the US after his breakout performance in the Irish hit film Sing Street, where he played a skin headed bully in the kind of star turn that makes careers.

Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Alden Ehrenreich in Solo: A Star Wars Story

Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Alden Ehrenreich in Solo: A Star Wars Story

Now Kenny's new Star Wars credit as Rebolt, a member of an outlaw gang on an alien world will make him a big name from Dublin to Beijing, leading to the kind of exposure that actors can only dream of. Putting Star Wars in your resume means you get instant callbacks, so expect to hear from the latest young Irish screen actor on the rise soon.

But ever since the Millennium Falcon touched down on Skellig Michael just off County Kerry at the end of The Force Awakens to the Jedi training sessions that occurred in Malin Head in County Donegal in The Last Jedi, there's been a bit of a love affair with the old sod in the Star Wars reboots.

Maybe it's creative input and Irish heritage of longtime Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, but since she's taken over the helm there has been a deepening political subtext to the sci-fi space operas that unarguably makes them much more moving and relevant, and the latest chapter in the saga is no exception.

Irish Actor Ian Kenny plays a villain called Rebolt in Solo: A Star Wars Story

Irish Actor Ian Kenny plays a villain called Rebolt in Solo: A Star Wars Story

This week our wise cracking hero Han Solo is back, but this time he's arriving in the younger, leaner version played by 28 year old Alden Ehrenreich in the new Disney helmed stand alone prequel Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Do we need to see how the most famous smuggler in the galaxy got his start? Do we need to see how he met the big walking carpet Chewbacca and learned to speak Wookie? Do we even need to see him meet his former best friend Lando Calrissian (played by the uber stylish Donald Glover)?

Well Disney is betting the farm on the hope that we do, so let's take a look at what they've come up with.

Solo: A Star Wars Story starts when our hero is an unformed 18 year old and it follows his adventures until he reaches 24. A lot happens in between, and lifelong fans of the series will have a lot of aha moments finally witnessing story's long referred to in the original 70's and 80's films.

What's most striking is that Solo, far from the hero we have come to know, begins life as an indentured slave on a planet called Correlia, where the fascist regime we call the Empire has enslaved the entire planet and escape is almost impossible.

There are striking parallels in the new film with famous images from the old historical films of life under the Nazi's during World War II, in fact they are probably the most explicit parallel scenes to date in the sci-fi series, because in Solo we see desperate people lining up to have their papers stamped in the slim hope of getting off the planet before worse happens.

Solo introduces us to his romantic interest Qi'ra (played by Game Of Thrones' Emilia Clarke) as the two plot to bribe their way off the planet they both loathe. Clarke is typically winning in this otherwise underwritten role (who really is she and what happens to her when she vanishes from the story for years only to return at a key moment)?

The original two directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord were abruptly taken off Solo: A Star Wars Story when the studio and Kennedy saw the first rushes and reportedly panicked. Kennedy appreciated their choices and the humor and character development the pair brought to the film, but they had reservations about their ability to helm a juggernaut on the scale of Star Wars.

Irish American director and safe pair of hands Ron Howard was brought in after the original pair were escorted off the set late into the filming process. How you feel about Howard's creative input will probably have to be offset by his proven ability to deliver a production on time.

If you want to avoid spoilers now is the moment to look away. What longtime fans of the Star Wars saga will want to know is will Solo: A Star Wars Story be a worthy chapter in the larger story? Will the relatively unknown actor Alden Ehrenreich pick up the very formidable gauntlet thrown down by a once in a generation leading man like Harrison Ford?

But for me from the outset the biggest question was, will the story be interesting? Will it be enlightening and well told? Will it move me and will it be the gripping thrill ride that the original trilogy unarguably were?

Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo and Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story

Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo and Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story

The answers are mostly no. No Alden Ehrenreich doesn't have the star power to conjure Harrison Ford's glory days. No Solo: A Star Wars Story doesn't add much to the wider canon. It's entertaining enough but it's unexceptional, you forget what's happening even as you're watching it.

But what I remembered most of all watching Solo: A Star Wars Story was what gifted action directors George Lucas (and Irvin Kershner) were. The original Star Wars film starts off running and never flags until the final frame. The Empire Strikes Back is an even more involving chapter, pulling you into to the wider story arc and startling you with unexpected developments that bring a genuine wow factor to the proceedings. Even the scores are thrilling. They're works of near magic.

No one will ever seriously argue that the script of Solo: A Star Wars Story is worth a second thought. It seems to have just been ripped from a character draft of the charismatic smuggler's background and then expanded to the breaking point in the hope that it would amount to a stand alone caper.

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The sad truth is that the resultant film is beautiful to look at but it features an uninspired central performance, a shockingly uninspired storyline, and new character's that add very little and often nothing at all to our understanding of the wider Star Wars universe.

Even the glaringly miscast Woody Harrelson, apparently roped in to to give the film some gunslinging machismo, would probably have been better served by a brief hologram of John Wayne.

Somewhere in Solo: A Star Wars Story a genuinely gripping film resides. But neither the writers nor the directors were permitted to bring it to life. What we have instead is watered down popcorn fare tilted at the megaplex's. The mighty days of the Empire look far, far away now.