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Original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who were responsible for the Lego Movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 22 Jump Street, did not see eye to eye with Lucasfilm president/overlord Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan.
They were given their marching orders.
Breaking up is hard to do
So what you’ve got is a couple of blokes who have a background in animation and improvised comedy taking on a Star Wars Movie. Kasdan, as a writer, likes people who stick to the script. There was no way these guys were ever going to be compatible.
The official wording for the split was ‘creative differences’ which tells me that the Star Wars movie Lord and Miller intended to make was nowhere near what Lucasfilm ordered. There’s unconfirmed reports of them doing up to 30 takes per scene resulting in general confusion among cast and crew as to what they were trying to acheive.
Which begs the question, what the fuck were any of these guys thinking?
Disney goes into damage control, somehow manages to sign up Ron Howard to take the helm and they go through extensive re-shoots to bring the film up to scratch. What a mess!
Solo has proven to be the lowest grossing Star Wars film since Episode 2 – Attack of The Clones, and now (aside from the mess that was the creation of the film) they’re looking for something to pin it on. Some are saying it’s the backlash against The Last Jedi, but I don’t know. I mean, it’s not like there hasn’t been other terrible Star Wars films before that one. I think it might be something more simple like how loved the character is, how big the shoes are to fill and maybe that there isn’t really anything new here.
As a Star Wars fan, there’s a definite concern that, in the absence of any new and original Star Wars material, Disney is sailing the franchise into the same waters as Pirates of the Carribean, where they will milk the same formula over and over again, until it’s no longer profitable.
Going into Solo – A Star Wars Story we already know that whatever happens in this movie is of no consequence because we’ve seen how and where everything ends up.
It’s a shame because Solo – A Star Wars Story by some way of a small miracle is actually pretty decent.
For starters, you have the screenplay by Kasdan, who has some awesome Lucasfilm credits to his name. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire, Return of the Jedi, he’s the right guy for the job.
Then you bring in an Oscar winning director like Ron Howard to get the house in order and things are looking pretty good. Although you’ve got to wonder how much they paid a guy of his calibre to even pretend to be interested in finishing a movie he did not start.
The story is an origin tale that shows you how Solo got off the planet Corellia and became the lovable scoundrel we’ve all grown so fond of.
This might be a very minor spoiler alert but you’ve likely already seen the trailers—you’re going to find out how he met Chewie and Lando. You’re going to see the Millennium Falcon and you’re going to find out how he completed the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. That is very much where the movie’s strength lies, we’re going to see all of the things that have until know only been part of the backstory in the main movies. And for me, that’s pretty cool. It is also really good to see Chewbacca move back in a central role, as opposed to the appalling comic relief his character was subject to in The Last Jedi.
The cast are surprisingly good. Emilia Clarke as Solo’s love interest Qi’Ra hits the mark. Paul Bettany is ok as Dryden Vos, the gangster leader of the Red Dawn, although not very menacing if you ask me. Woody Harrelson does well as the gangster and mentor Beckett, although he’s just very Woody Harrelson. Thandie Newton is great as Beckett’s partner Val and Phoebe Waller-Bridge is excellent as the feisty and rebellious droid L3-37.
The standout is Donald Glover who absolutely steals the show with a perfect portrayal of Lando Calrissian. He hits all the right notes, mannerisms, vocal inflections and attitude. I really felt like I was watching a young Billy Dee Williams, he was that good.
Then we have Solo himself, played with competence by Alden Ehrenreich. He was good, he put forward a charming portrayal of the character and I believed he was Solo—even though he bears no resemblance to a young Harrison Ford at all. Sadly, he lacked that cantankerous side that Han seems to have in the later movies, there’s was none of those cool moments with him where he bites back at any comments like, “that’s not how the force works” or “I don’t know, fly casual”.
With very low expectations for Solo – A Star Wars Story, I was surprised. I’d even go so far as to say I really enjoyed myself. The first 30 minutes was a bit shaky—there was a particular sequence of dialogue where Han and Qi’Ra were finishing each other’s sentences that drove me mad—but that soon passed.
When you break it down it’s a pretty derivative heist movie that honours the original characters and shines a light on some of the cooler moments in Star Wars canon, even though we didn’t really need to see them. Solo has enough charm to appease fans and provide some big dumb popcorn fun.