Photo provided by Disney
By Braden Lyon
Lucasfilm released this year’s installment of the Star War franchise all over the world, but either not everyone got the memo, or they’re just plain tired of the galaxy far, far away.
There are a lot of explanations going around as to why “Solo” isn’t doing Star Wars numbers at the box office according to reports. Some are claiming that releasing too many Star Wars movies in too little time is fatiguing audiences. Others suggest that fans are not happy with Lucasfilm’s treatment of the franchise and have been boycotting until Kathleen Kennedy, the president of the company, is fired. And speaking anecdotally, I wasn’t even going to buy a ticket simply because that would let the industry know that it’s ok to hire directors with a distinct improvisational style, let them shoot 75% of your movie, and fire them because apparently you don’t like their signature style all of a sudden, bring on a more by-the-books director, and give him all the credit. This is precisely was what happened in the production of Solo, and should not be tolerated lest it be allowed to happen again. But sometimes, one realizes purchasing a ticket a week after opening weekend will only satiate one’s curiosity, and it just so happens Solo was doing poorly anyway, so why not see if such a messy production makes for a messy movie?
Solo is an origin story about one of the most well-known and beloved characters in all of film, an easy premise to completely botch, but the movie seemed to turn out all right in spite of this. Moments where explanations about Han Solo’s character, such as when he got the name “Solo” and how he came up with his nickname for his Wookie copilot Chewbacca, sometimes felt forced in to remind fans “See? This is Han Solo”. And maybe they felt that was needed since fan reactions to the first couple trailers were not particularly keen on Alden Ehrenreich’s rendition of the titular character. This was supported by reports of an on set acting coach being hired to aid Ehrenreich in his performance.
And while this press was mostly concerning, Harrison Ford himself even applauded Ehrenreich in capturing the character he originally brought to life. After actually seeing the movie, it’s easy to see why. This is in fact an origin story, so naturally the character isn’t going to be fully realized at the beginning, but a short way into the movie when Han and Chewbacca finally meet, something starts to click and the character starts to make sense.
After establishing Han, the movie allows itself to become a sci-fi-heist-film-space-western to perfectly suit the talents of the rag tag team of new and old personalities. It’s incredibly fun to watch but it also prominently features one of the glaring issues of the yearly anthology releases seen so far: the plot has basically already been told to us. The same problem came with 2016’s “Rouge One: A Star Wars Story,” because these are prequels to previously established films, we basically know which characters make it, which characters don’t, which decisions have consequences, and the film has lower stakes as a result. It should also be said that this issue doesn’t nullify the movie’s right to exist, and the film still finds unique ways to surprise viewers.
At it’s best; “Solo” is an extremely fun installment to the franchise featuring some incredible music and great performances. At it’s worst; dialogue can be clunky, certain scenes feel like a Frankenstein’s monster of different directorial visions, and the color grading can be a bit muddy at times. It’s a shame it received so much negativity before even having been released, but if it means Star Wars under Disney won’t commit as many production sins next year, the flop is worth it.