Lucasfilm’s Solo: A Star Wars Story has the impossible task of selling fans on a new Han Solo who reminds us of Harrison Ford, but not too much. The magic of Ford’s performances was that he didn’t give a damn about much of anything, and yet there was always a hint of heroism buried beneath the bluster. Alden Ehrenreich (Hail, Caesar!) was a controversial pick for the role, but he’s a talented young actor with a lot of range and some interesting credits.
Does Ehrenreich get it right, or do does he go too far?
It’s hard to tell. Lucasfilm dropped a teaser during the Superbowl and a trailer during Good Morning America, which are both jammed with cool imagery and style, but (unfortunately) not a lot of substance. Let’s get into it…
A New Star Wars That Feels Like Old Star Wars
Rogue One and Solo are both “anthology” movies set within the Star Wars universe. They’re independent stories tied to the franchise’s larger narrative, and (mostly) stand on their own. They’re also set before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, which was made in 1977 — it’s remarkable how much both of these anthology movies look and feel like products of the same era (even with all of the modern CG gloss applied).
This throwback atmosphere is liberally-applied throughout the new Solo trailer, and it all kind of works. (I’m not sure about the hard-rocking soundtrack, but that’s the least of my concerns.) Ships, locations, costumes, and creatures are all authentically Star Wars — right down to the analog knobs and switches in the Millennium Falcon. On look and feel alone, Solo gets the job done.
All Kurosawa, All The Time
Hardcore Star Wars fans know that George Lucas borrowed liberally from the samurai films of legendary Japanese director, Akira Kurosawa, such as Yojimbo and The Seven Samurai. Kurosawa loved sweeping cinematography, emotional outbursts, and blinding-fast action. His films were intense and unpredictable. Kurosawa’s films also inspired American westerns for decades; it appears Solo is very much a Kurosawa western in a sci-fi wrapper.
The Solo trailer is thin on plot, but its rapid-fire cuts suggest quick-draw blaster fights, standoffs against overwhelming numbers, and breakneck chases from the authorities (wherein hovercrafts and starships stand in for horsebacks). Solo conveys an attitude of outsider and troublemaker that strikes a different tone than Rogue One or any other Star Wars movie, and that’s terrific. Kurosawa and Lucas’ fans should be pleased.
A Comedy, A Drama, Or A Bit Of Both?
Star Wars fans have been understandably slow to embrace Solo, given the production’s well-reported struggles. Chief among them was the firing of directing team Phil Lord and Chris Miller — allegedly because they were making a slapstick comedy, which was not the film Lucasfilm thought they were funding, according to The Independent. Ron Howard was hired thereafter, and he apparently reshot much (if not all) of the film.
We’ll never see Lord and Miller’s vision of Solo, but Howard’s version appears much more serious and edgy, although plenty of humor is still present.
One odd thing stands out, which was also an issue (for me) in The Last Jedi — the empire seems completely inept and used as comic relief. Stormtroopers knocked off of speederbikes, tie fighters rammed by the Falcon, and generally ill-equipped to rule the galaxy. Here’s hoping that they’re not the villains in this story (but they probably are).
Is Solo The Film Fans Wanted, or Feared?
Overall, Solo: A Star Wars Story remains an enigma, but at least it’s not terrible, right? There’s a sense of fun and style that seems different from other Star Wars films, but yet still adheres to canon (far as we can tell).
Ron Howard has made his Star Wars movie and Alden Ehrenreich has defined his Han Solo — audiences will soon vote on the success or failure of their venture (but it’s notable that early look at footage has yielded positive word). You can only read so much into a few minutes of combined teaser and trailer, but the final takeaway here is: cautious optimism… given the rollercoaster of events underlying this project, that’s probably as much as anyone could hope at this point.
Where do you stand on the new Solo: A Star Wars Story trailer? Let us know in the comments down below!
Solo: A Star Wars Story hits theaters on May 25, 2018.