Neil Calloway isn’t looking forward to one of 2018’s most anticipated movies…
It is a dark time for the rebellion. Those words, the first in the opening crawl of The Empire Strikes Back, could apply to the current state of the Star Wars universe. Whatever you think of the films, you have to accept that all is not well at Disney’s Lucasfilm. Directors have been fired, or sidelined in post production, and a film like The Last Jedi was, to say the least, divisive.
First Lord and Miller were sacked, and now it seems that an “insider” has said that Disney are expecting Solo: A Star Wars Story to be a car crash. Now, I’m always wary of stories based on a single anonymous source, so it could be nothing, or someone cashing in on the perceived problems of The Last Jedi, it could be someone from Disney laying the groundwork for low expectations for the film, or it could be the truth.
Whatever, I’d bet the Falcon that Solo will disappoint, for several reasons.
Han is by far and away the best character in the Star Wars films; he’s not whiny like Luke, he’s not fulfilling his destiny like Leia, he’s not a bloke with an asthma problem and a mask like Darth Vader, he’s just your typical Western hero; he arrives from nowhere, does his job, and leaves. It’s no coincidence that we first see him in a cantina – that’s where John Wayne drinks in The Searchers. He shoots first and asks questions later; first in the cantina when he kills Greedo, and in The Empire Strikes Back when confronted by Vader on Bespin. Obi-Wan would never do that. He’s the only one of the main characters who has a hinterland; he’s not always fighting for the rebellion; he’s mostly out for himself.
We know very little of his background; smuggling, gambling, being a rogue, but we don’t need to know more, and Solo will inevitably fill in some of that and tarnish the legend. We don’t need to know about Rick’s background in Casablanca, and we don’t need to know about Ethan’s in The Searchers (he wasn’t at the surrender of Confederate troops is all we’re given). Likewise, we don’t need to know about Han’s background; he arrives, fully formed, in Mos Eisley. Rogue One worked precisely because it was set in a familiar universe, but with all new characters. Solo doesn’t have that luxury.
That aside, there is also the production problems; films where key crew are replaced are hardly wildly successful; auteur theory isn’t perfect but there is some truth to it. Solo won’t be a singular vision from one genius, but a collage from three, assembled from instructions from Disney. Ron Howard is a fine director, with a decent Lucasfilm pedigree, but Willow was thirty years ago. His more recent fare might be great, but none of his films have been wild space adventures with the galaxy’s favourite rogue.
Harrison Ford is Han Solo, and Alden Ehrenreich just isn’t going to cut it for many of us, however good he is in the role. I amost feel sorry for him; he’s doomed to fail, and be compared forever to the best comic action adventure star ever.
With the possible exception of Obi-Wan Kenobi – I can’t wait for that film; two hours of Ewan McGregor hanging about in a cave on the Jundland Wastes while Industrial Light & Magic slowly morph him into Alec Guinness – Han Solo is probably the worst character in the Star Wars universe to make a spinoff film about.
Neil Calloway is a pub quiz extraordinaire and Top Gun obsessive. Check back here every Sunday for future instalments.