Image copyright
Getty Images

The latest Star Wars film has dazzled Cannes with a star-studded premiere, a lavish beach party and an eight-minute fireworks display.

Stormtroopers manned the steps of the Grand Theatre Lumiere as director Ron Howard and members of his cast arrived for Tuesday’s screening.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is the first film in the series to screen at Cannes since Revenge of the Sith in 2005.

Out next week in the UK, it depicts the early days of space pirate Han Solo.

Alden Ehrenreich plays the character made famous by Harrison Ford in the original Star Wars trilogy and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The 28-year-old was joined at the premiere by British actresses Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who appears in the film as a testy robot.

Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

Donald Glover and Thandie Newton attended the premiere

The Fleabag star was joined at the film’s beach party by her partner, the director and playwright Martin McDonagh.

British actor Paul Bettany, who has a villainous role in the film, arrived with his actress wife Jennifer Connolly on his arm.

Also on hand was American actor and musician Donald Glover, who plays a younger version of the Lando Calrissian character originally played by Billy Dee Williams.

Tuesday’s screening in Cannes followed the US premiere that took place in Hollywood last week.

Speaking on Tuesday, Howard said being at Cannes with the film was important as the Star Wars saga “speaks to the entire planet”.

“I’ve always been a fan of the Star Wars movies but now I realise why we see them over and over again,” he went on.

Image copyright
Lucasfilm

Image caption

Ever wondered how Han met Chewie? Solo: A Star Wars Story has the answers

Howard took over the director’s chair after Christopher Miller and Phil Lord, co-directors of The Lego Movie, left the film last year.

The Apollo 13 film-maker attributed their departure to “creative differences” and said he had to “take a creative leap” to take over the film mid-production.

Ehrenreich, hitherto best known for his role as a slow-witted cowboy actor in the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, said the chance to step into Harrison Ford’s shoes was “beyond anything [he] could have imagined”.

“When you’re signing on to something like this, you’re signing on to a whole life adventure,” he continued.

More from Cannes:

Woody Harrelson, meanwhile, only half-jokingly referred to playing the young Han’s mentor as “the pinnacle of his career”.

“We’re really breathing some rarefied air to be in Star Wars,” said the former Cheers star. “I’m very psyched about it.”

‘Real grit’

Reviews for Solo: A Star Wars Story have generally been favourable, though the Hollywood Reporter felt Howard “never quite manages to launch the Millennium Falcon into hyperdrive”.

Variety’s critic, meanwhile, said the film “allows for moments of real grit” and calls its action sequences “machine-tooled spectacles of the first order”.

Set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Solo introduces its title character as an opportunistic scavenger who dreams of starting a new life on another planet.

His adventures see him meet and form a bond with a giant furry ape character named Chewbacca – “Chewie” for short.

The film screened out of competition at this year’s film festival and is therefore not eligible for the event’s awards.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.