Is the Han Solo Star Wars spin-off spiralling towards disaster?
Fans have got a bad feeling about the prequel after more reports of on-set turmoil. But recent history suggests we shouldnt panic yet
Whoever said theres no such thing as bad publicity was clearly not thinking about the Death Star-sized pulse of negative buzz that has hit Solo: A Star Wars Story over the past year. There was the firing of The Lego Movie directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, followed by their replacement by the Hollywood veteran Ron Howard. Then there was the lukewarm reaction to the first trailer for Alden Ehrenreichs first turn as the curmudgeonly space smuggler, followed by suggestions that some Star Wars acolytes are actively willing the film to fail. And now we have the revelation, courtesy of one of Ehrenreichs (anonymous) fellow cast members, that the new face of Han Solo required on-set acting lessons. To paraphrase the man himself, Im beginning to have a bad feeling about this.
But should we really be all that worried? After all, advance publicity suggested Rogue One would be a dreadful misfire; in fact it turned out to be the finest Star Wars movie since the original trilogy. Studio big cheese Kathleen Kennedy has spent three decades proving herself capable of alchemy, so why should we doubt her now?
If Rogue One taught us one thing, it is that the path to great movie-making is not important provided the film-makers get there in the end. Perhaps more than any other saga, Star Wars attracts an incredible amount of interest in the finer details of the production process: there are dozens of obsessives out there surviving on morsels from behind the scenes. Having being subjected to every ghastly detail of the birthing process, the experience of finally watching the film itself is often accompanied by a distinct sense of deja vu.
Several months ahead of its release, I remember reading a pretty decent plot outline for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which had been culled from a report on the site Making Star Wars. It seemed inevitable that the first Star Wars movie in more than a decade would be a gross disappointment, a hastily conceived and painfully contrived mess. In the end, I rather enjoyed Episode VII, though perhaps it more a wonderfully crafted facsimile of the originals than a true renaissance.
The point is that we need to wait and see how Solo crystallises into its final form rather than judge it based on reports. If Ehrenreich needs an acting coach to channel Harrison Fords misanthropic allure, so be it. Whos to say the end result wont be on a par with, say, Karl Urbans Bones McCoy in the new Star Trek movies. If Howards safe pair of hands really was the appropriate antidote to Lord and Miller (the suggestion in Vultures report is that the pair shot scores of takes without being clear what they wanted done differently each time) then all power to him.
If Solo turns out to be as good as Rogue One, nobody will care if it experienced a troubled gestation. Part of the fun of Han Solo in the originals was the way he always managed to escape apparently deadly scenarios: emerging unharmed from deadly asteroid fields, Imperial garbage compactors and horrifying giant maws embedded in desert sand. It would be rather fitting if his spin-off film followed a similar route.
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