Will Solo: A Star Wars Story fail?

OK, yes I’m an equal opportunity geek. Trek lover to be sure, but I’ve devoted a fair amount of ink to Star Wars too. I’m still not sure if I liked The Last Jedi (see my pained review) and here we are again. It’s only six months or so since the last movie and we’re getting ready to go to the theatre again.

Solo: A Star Wars Story comes out in less than a month and the naysayers are already out in force (pun kinda intended.) It’s going to suck, they say. It’s not interesting to hang a story on, they say. It is nothing more than pure fan service, they say. And they may be right. Check out this article on The Onion from about a month ago and you’ll get an idea of the sentiment. Fanboys, still stinging from the last movie, are ready to hate this one with a fervor previously only reserved for Jar-Jar.

But why?

Solo should give us the characters we want, the way we want to see them

The biggest complaint about The Last Jedi from OG’s was that it killed off everything we loved. OK, here’s everything we loved. Thanks to the magic of setting the film ten years before Episode IV, we get a young and vital Han Solo. He’s sure to do the things we want him to do: win at sabacc, do the Kessel run, yell when someone quotes him the odds. Yet, these are things we know he does. There’s precious little drama there. It’s no stretch to imagine a cocky flyboy falling into a life of crime. There isn’t much of a plot to service there.

We’re all hoping that Solo does more than give us the things we know. We hope it gives us a new adventure with an old friend, in a way that somehow makes it feel like it’s worth the $20 to see it on the big screen.

Solo is directed by Ron Howard

The film may have started with a different team, but Ron fricken Howard is there to see it through to the end. I’m talking Mr. Apollo 13 here. Depending on your age and knowledge of cinema, you might know know that Ron Howard actually starred in a movie written by George Lucas and directed by George Lucas. Ron Howard is literally the closest thing we have to George Lucas actually directing the thing.

If anyone can pull this thing together you would think it would be Ron Howard, and while the name may not resonate with younger viewers it’s got all sorts of good joojoo with older ones. At one point he was one of the most bankable directors in Hollywood, and unlike other directors he took his bankability straight to the bank. He stopped making a ton of films before his reputation got tarnished. He is absolutely the right person for this job.

Donald Glover is absurdly awesome

Millennials should see this film just because Donald Glover is, in their parlance, awesomesauce. If you watch the trailers (and I know you have) he’s 100% Billy Dee Williams charm with 0% 1970s misogyny and sexism. Enough said.

So… why do we all still feel like Solo will suck?

Speaking for myself, I still think it’s going to suck.

I feel like it really shouldn’t suck because it has a lot of great ingredients. But it will suck because at the end of the day, this is a movie that didn’t need to be made. Rogue One (which I believe will not age well) took a sentence in the original film and turned it into a movie. Solo seems to want to give us a fair amount more than that, but I don’t think that the character of Han Solo has enough to hang a whole film on.

I’ve read a fair number of Star Wars books. There are whole books about Han Solo. They’re not bad but they’re not good enough to make into movies. Which is why, until now, no one even tried.

Han Solo is a supporting character. What we like about him is that he is what he is. He’s not deep. He wears the same clothes from decade to decade (even when he says he doesn’t.) He keeps the same ride for 20 years and when he finally loses it he combs the galaxy. Why? Because that spaceship is who he is, too. It doesn’t change much and neither does he. That’s what we want. We don’t want Han to have a story, we want Han to have a collection of cranky asides. Yes he’s a big part of the story but he’s about as shallow as you can get. We like that.

It seems sort of like a waste to make him the star of a movie, just like it seemed like a waste to make The Emoji Movie. Han Solo is one note. We like the note, but play it over and over for two hours and it gets pretty annoying.

 

And yeah, I’ll go see it. But don’t ask me to like it!