Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) Director: Ron Howard
Unsurprisingly, Solo is a perfect homage to our lazy, cynical era of corporate greed courtesy of the present-day masters of bland, hackneyed reboots of far superior movies. With films like Solo, our cultural overlords seem to view the ordinary moviegoer as little more than a knuckle-dragging, drooling, bloodthirsty bumpkin who can barely stomach a movie unless it is pumped full of CGI effects and sarcastic one-liners. Just keep the explosions coming to satisfy the hoards of mindless lemmings. Somewhere along the way, executives at Disney decided to retcon all the old celebrated heroes in the Star Wars universe –Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Boba Fett, and Han Solo. Sadly this revisionism comes at the expense of good story-telling. Amusingly, Solo was one of the most expensive films ever made, and it was consequently one of the biggest box office bombs of all time losing Disney somewhere between $80M-$100M. After the trainwreck that was The Last Jedi (2017), Disney and the leaders at Lucasfilm forgot that fans wanted a good movie with a plan, not simply a fast food drive-thru menu of Star Wars merchandising.
Naturally, Solo is a by-product of Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm. It was written by legendary Star Wars writer Lawrence Kasdan’s son, Jonathan (Lawrence had begun writing a script before Lucasfilm was acquired but after the sale he was looped in to write The Force Awakens). The plot of the film loosely concerns Han’s early life as a scoundrel on a planet called Corellia, and his love for a woman named Qi’ra. Han escapes, is imprisoned, meets Chewbacca, gambles with Lando Calrissian, wins the Millennium Falcon, is betrayed by several characters, then escapes in the end. It is a yawning bore with almost nothing at stake.
This film features some recognizable names: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandiwe Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo and Paul Bettany. Since its release, we have learned Solo faced considerable unhappiness behind the scenes. It was way over-budget, presented an excessively comical tone, disrespected fan-lore, fired both original directors with three weeks left in the project, angered original writer Lawrence Kasdan, faced fan and staff backlash, deadlines were pushed back, and Ron Howard was hired to button-up the project but he was forced to re-shoot almost the entire film in time for it to be released (there was minimal marketing completed in time for the film’s release). The many failures of Solo forced Lucasfilm/Disney to pull back a whole panoply of new Star Wars movies. Instead they subtly released The Mandalorian series which is one of the few bright spots since Disney began its efforts to milk this franchise for every last drop. Unfortunately, now they are planning to crank out dozens of new Star Wars spin-off shows.