Is “Solo: A Star Wars Story” Really That Bad?
There are a lot of videos, magazine articles, and water cooler discussions around why “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is considered a failure. The film earned over 350 million dollars, and is still playing in theaters, so it might break the 400-million-dollar mark when all is said-and-done. On a 300 million budget it technically did make a profit but not much in comparison to the standards set for Star Wars films. For example, compared to the other stand-alone movie “Rogue One,” which made over one billion in comparison to a 200 million budget. But does Solo deserve to be bad mouthed as much as it has been? And is it really that bad?
Yes, “Solo” is a financial failure but not making money is not always a sign of a bad film. Lots of movies over the years have been commercial failures, such as “Blade Runner” and “Event Horizon.” Both of those films are now considered great sci-fi movies. Some of Solo’s financial failure could merely be due to the timing of when it was released. Solo was released at the same time as “Deadpool 2” and “Avengers: Infinity War” – two movies that audiences had been anxiously waiting to see. Since all three of these are in the same genre, Solo could have simply lost out to the competition.
One of the big objections to the movie I have noticed in discussions online is how Disney has made the “Star Wars” universe too politically correct. Which is true, they have, but would it be any better in the hands of George Lucas? Remember Jar-Jar or Midi-chlorians? Lucas doesn’t care about movies any more, he cares about making video games – whether it be actual video games, or movies looking like video games. So, I would say, even with the film being Disney-fied it is still better than it would be in the hands of George Lucas.
Fan Bating/ Fan Service
I believe this is primarily where the film fails, the producers tried too hard to cater to the fans, and if there is one thing we know it’s that “Star Wars” fans are fanatical assholes. Look at the fact that many of the female stars in the recent episodes have had to delete their social media profiles and that “Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson has received death threats. Yet with “Solo” they still tried to make the super-fans happy. For example:
- The bit with how Han got his last name.
- The dice being handed around.
- How Han and Chewbacca met.
- Lando pronouncing “Han” as “Hen”.
- Saying “I have a good feeling about this” instead of a “bad feeling.”
- Do we give a shit about how Han got his blaster, something they focused on way too much?
- In this film Han clearly shoots first in the sequence at the end.
- And many, many more that I haven’t called out here.
Some of this stuff was fine, Chewy and Han meeting for example. But do we need him to say, “I’m having a good feeling about this”? No, especially because these fanatical fans have already made movies in their heads and no movie will be as good as that. What Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan should have done when writing the script is focused on creating a decent story. Complain all you want about “The Last Jedi” at least the story was somewhat new.
Han Solo is universally a fan favourite character in the Star Wars universe, so having anyone play him other than Harrison Ford is tough. But, I have to go with the critics on this and say Alden Ehrenreich wasn’t the best choice. But then again, would it have been possible to find someone the fans would have accepted? Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian turned out to be an excellent in the roll, and the rest of the casting was pretty decent as well. And truthfully, I don’t have a problem with Alden Ehrenreich as an actor, I simply feel, like many others, that there can be only one Han Solo.
Could we blame the fact that they fired directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller and brought in Ron Howard to finish the film? It’s hard to say, since we don’t know what the film would have been, but it could be that some of the things that suck about this film are their fault. But then again, maybe what sucks is Ron Howard’s fault. Generally, I consider Howard an excellent filmmaker, but in this film, there were directing choices that I found annoying especially in the area of cinematography with the typical quick-cut action sequences happening in films to the point that you can’t really focus on anything due to the closeup shots, camera movement, and fast cuts. Why do all films nowadays with even the littlest bit of action have to do this? Have filmmakers gotten so lazy that they can’t choreograph an action sequence that has a cut longer than a few seconds or is not done in an extreme close-up?
I rolled my eyes when he appeared on screen. The last most people saw this character was when he was chopped in half in The Phantom Menace. If you are a Star Wars nerd and have watched everything Star Wars related, you would know that in “Rebels” he doesn’t die after being chopped in half and falling down a giant hole. Why he needed to show up at the end of “Solo,” however, is a bit of a mystery other than the makers of this film displaying more unnecessary fan service.
Was it really that bad?
So overall, is the film that bad? No, it’s not that bad but it’s not that good either. They have everything there they needed to make a decent film; they just were trying too hard to please everyone. Too many producers, writers, and directors had their hands in the pot. Disney and Lucas Film: if you want to succeed with these standalone films, first off stop trying to give the super fans am erection with every scene and Easter egg in the film. Second, cut out some of the overly PC crap. The reveal of one of the pirates being a 12-year-old girl for example. Why can’t Warwick Davis be the leader of the group? And finally, spend a little more time on a good story and engaging characters. That is what made the originals successful, and could make any new films successful if they would stop playing so much to what they think people want.
On the plus side, at least, they didn’t have C-3PO and R2-D2 in Solo anywhere, which surprised me since they unnecessarily appear in all the other movies.