So, Chewbacca’s really old, guys, as in he was probably pushing 200 by the time we met him in A New Hope. Suddenly lines like “Laugh it up, fuzzball” feel a little closer to elder abuse. Have some respect, Han! That “fuzzball” is so, so much older than you and just about anyone else – other than Yoda – in the Star Wars saga.
To the hardcore fans, news of Chewbacca’s advanced age is likely nothing new. One assumes this has already been covered in various novels and comic books over the years. However, to the more casual fans this revelation, included as a toss-in joke in the new Solo: A Star Wars trailer, is likely surprising. It’s certainly my primary takeaway from the trailer.
Yeah, but how does the rest of the film look?
“Fine”? Seriously? That’s all you’ve got?
It’s all the real enthusiasm I can muster at this point. A Han Solo prequel is one of the least imaginative choices Lucasfilm could have made with their new Star Wars films. Then they fired the directors and reshot the majority of the film with Ron Howard, and all the advertising to this point seems to be doing its best to cut around Alden Ehrenreich’s actual performance as Han. He kinda sorta looks the part but still doesn’t feel quite like young Harrison Ford. To be fair, he at least gets closer in the new trailer.
So, it’s the old “troubled production” line that has you down?
It doesn’t help, but that’s not entirely it. At this point, significant reshoots have become so common on movies of this scale that it’d almost be more newsworthy if we simply assumed all big movies go through major reshoots and simply start reporting those times when films come in on time, on budget, and enjoy a peaceful editing process. So, we’ve had ample opportunity by now to glimpse some movies where the reshoots clearly made things worse (Fantastic Four, Suicide Squad, Justice League) and others where the reshoots helped (Rogue One, World War Z). It’s the trainwrecks versus the saved-in-post crowd.
Solo, of course, is the most extreme example we’ve ever had, but Ron Howard is an old pro and we’re still talking about a movie written by Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Silverado, etc.), shot by cinematographer Bradford Young (Selma and Arrival among others), and starring Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, Donald Glover, and Fleabag‘s amazing Phoebe Waller-Bridge (granted, she’s just mo-capping a droid). Plus, Rogue One works for me as a diverting bit of mythology back building, and Kathleen Kennedy saw that through its own troubled production and produced something better than expected. She might be able to pull it off again with Solo.
So, what’s the issue, then?
I don’t know. Maybe I’ve just reached prequel and reboot fatigue as well as fatigue with movies that include lines like, “I’m putting together a team.” I’ve grown weary of the advertising that plays like a roll call of familiar box checking (e.g., “Look! It’s Lando, Chewie, and the Millenium Falcon! Oh, Han just said a variation on his infamous ‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this’ line!”). As Forbes pointed out, Paramount took the same approach with its 2009 Star Trek ads, and now Disney is doing the same with Solo.
Plus, for as much as I like Rogue One, it’s now set me up with the suspicion that any of the new characters in Solo probably just end up meeting rather grim ends for how else do you explain their obvious absence from the rest of the Star Wars saga?
Beyond all of that, after Last Jedi, I feel like a certain bit of fun has left Star Wars, and I’m not talking about the movies themselves. No, I mean the culture that surrounds them. Discussing Star Wars online has somehow morphed into something as combative and divisive as debating politics. That’s kind of always been there, but Last Jedi got sucked even deeper into the culture wars than ever before. When fans, albeit a small subset of them, are using their time on social media to plot a sabotage campaign on a film’s RottenTomatoes score something is wrong with the fandom.
So, I’m just not looking forward to the inevitable debates over Solo. Right now, it looks like a rather simple, fun outer space western that will probably be a real boon for sales of knock-off versions of Donald Glover’s wonderful coats. It’s exactly the kind of branded escapist entertainment that theaters desperately depend on these days, and I know I’ll be there opening weekend. Maybe by then, I’ll have worked up a little more excitement.
Here’s the trailer:
Solo opens May 25.