Last night, the official full-length trailer for Solo: A Star Wars story dropped. A lot of riding on the success of this particular film. The fanbase is divided after The Last Jedi and many of those who felt shorthanded are looking to Solo to provide that classic Star Wars feel. The scoundrel may longer be with us in the new sequel trilogy, but that doesn’t mean we’re done with the character.
The film has an incredibly high mountain to climb. First of all, is the troubled production of the film. Originally, Phil Lord and Chris Miller of Jump Street fame were in place to direct the script written by the legendary Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back, The Force Awakens) and his son. But the improv-heavy directing style of Lord and Miller wasn’t gelling with Kasdan or Lucasfilm and the pair ultimately were fired weeks before the initial production was set to conclude. Enter Ron Howard, a veteran director who somehow managed to reshoot most of the film and keep it on schedule. No matter how this movie turns out, a round of applause to Mr Howard is certainly needed for his ability to perform such a feat. Lord and Miller will make off with an executive producer credit for their work.
But the problems didn’t stop there. Recently, an anonymous actor who was present on set with both directors spoke out to Vulture and revealed just how bad things were getting. Was it an exaggeration or were things really that iffy?
The trailer thankfully puts many of those worries from the article to bed – at least for now. Let’s start off with the positive and that’s the cinematography. Like Rogue One before it, which also had a rocky production, the film looks stunning and that’s thanks to director of photography Bradford Young. His portfolio includes work on Arrival and Selma. Combine that with the great set design and costumes and the tone is set. Everything feels very grimy and dirty, which is great considering this movie is about a group of ragtag criminals.
The trailer really sells the fact that this movie is going to be a western in space. There’s Mexican standoff inspired shots, a “Great Train Robbery” and gambling in low lit saloons. Woody Harrelson tells the young smuggler that if he’s doing this mission, he’s in this life for good and that if you don’t trust anyone, you’ll never be betrayed. Both of those sentiments seem to have resonated with Han as they carry over to his personality in A New Hope. Tonally and visually, this movie so far impresses.
But let’s talk about the best thing in the trailer. Donald Glover as Lando. So much win. What an inspired casting choice. It’s proof that if Lucasfilm is going to do movies like this, where the original actors have to be recast, it is possible to sell the illusion. Donald Glover looks nothing at all like original Lando actor Billy Dee Williams but he nailed the charm, charisma and swagger found in the character in just ten seconds of trailer dialogue.
The same can’t be said about Alden Ehrenreich as the titular character. He’s given plenty more to say in this trailer thankfully and some of it works, such as telling his new pal Chewie “what does he know?”. But for the most part, Ehrenreich failed to convince me that this is young Han Solo. Which is a problem as the movie is based on his character and will be the driving force in the movie. Perhaps once the movie is playing, we’ll see that Ehrenreich can pull off his own interpretation of the character. Chris Pine looks nothing like James T. Kirk after all and we’ve accepted him and his fellow cast as the crew of the Enterprise. That’s because they sold the illusion, they owned their characters by making them their own while keeping true to the original performances. So far, Ehrenreich-at least in the trailers-has yet to inspire a similar reaction, which may be what makes this movie “good” instead of “great”. I hope that in due time, I can say I was wrong. Time will tell.