Monday, June 26, 2017

A Reel Opinion: The Han Solo Saga

Ever since his spectacular debut in 1977, one of the most popular and controversial characters in all of cinema has been Han Solo of STAR WARS fame. Originally portrayed by Harrison Ford for four films, the dashing young space pirate who was challenged to think about more than himself and money captured the hearts of women and gave the guys an idol to mimic. Han was a rebel within the famed Rebel Alliance; the type that would shoot first and take a payday, but also the type you would want fighting by your side.

Controversy seemed to match the character’s popularity. Twenty years after his debut, a galactic-sized shitstorm erupted around the character when a minor edit to a shootout appeared in the 20th anniversary edition of STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE; an edit which has angry fans fuming to this day. Harrison Ford would reprise the role for the final time in STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015), and would bring Solo to an end which was embraced by many, but hated by others. And just to fan the flames a bit more, in 2015 Disney and Lucasfilm announced an upcoming STAR WARS spinoff film which would center around a young version of Han Solo, this time played by Alden Ehrenreich.

Not all fans were quick to embrace the idea of the role of Han Solo being played by a new actor (maybe they need to watch a few James Bond films), but such a beloved character does need to be treated with tender loving care. The fear that fans have had grew exponentially just last week, when the directors of the yet-untitled film, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, were dismissed from the ongoing production. And within days, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy announced that Oscar-winning director Ron Howard (APOLLO 13, A BEAUTIFUL MIND, WILLOW) would be taking over.

The reasons for Lord and Miller’s sudden exit have been trickling out over the past week, with “creative differences” between the directing duo, Kennedy, and long-time STAR WARS screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan being the most quoted. Recent stories have emerged pointing towards Ehrenreich approaching Kennedy concerning Lord and Miller shooting Han Solo as a screwball comedy which was along the lines of Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura character, along with reports of the duo not being able to keep up with the shooting schedule. It seems that Lord and Miller, who wowed audiences in 2014 with their animated THE LEGO MOVIE, were not prepared for the size and scope of a STAR WARS movie, and another report of crewmembers breaking out into applause when Howard was hired seems to point towards just that.

The concerns over the current state over the Solo solo film are many, and justified. Sources say that Lord and Miller had shot nearly 90 percent of the film, and that Howard would be re-filming scenes deemed unusable. The pressure is certainly on, but Howard is no rookie, and Disney has shown great care and affection for STAR WARS since taking over the franchise. If the reports of Lord and Miller filming a STAR WARS movie like a goofy comedy are accurate, then this Blogger says good goddamn riddance, and perhaps in the future more care will be taken towards hiring directors for more STAR WARS; not to mention a cautionary tale for rebellious young directors.


The untitled HAN SOLO film will be released on May 25th, 2018. Along with Alden Ehrenreich, it also stars Donald Glover, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, and Thandie Newton.

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