‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ is apparently a huge, shambolic mess, no surprise

SFFILM Awards Night

For various reasons, I tend to not watch the big movies until months, sometimes years after they’ve been released. I only saw Doctor Strange over the holidays, and I just watched Rogue One about a month ago. I found both films to be… very disappointing. Rogue One at least had some cool visuals, but the entire third act was so boring and nonsensical that I almost fell asleep. I get that Disney made a huge gamble with all of the Star Wars properties and I’m glad that Disney is showing the fans a lot of respect, and there’s a lot of deference to the original stories and all of that. But it’s overkill to me, as an adult, to have a Star Wars movie out every single year, and have so few of them telling new stories in interesting ways.

Anyway, the stand-alone Han Solo “prequel” was already a mess. It’s being called Solo: A Star Wars Story, and the directors were already fired over the summer, and Ron Howard was brought in to replace them. There were story issues, performance issues, directing issues and more. It’s a gigantic clusterf–k. Now it seems that Disney is ready to completely write off Solo.

For some time now, there’s been a nagging sense that all might not be well behind the scenes of Disney’s Star Wars Universe. The Force Awakens and Rogue One seemingly washed away the stale memories of George Lucas’s prequel trilogy, but a string of high profile departures from the forthcoming sequels and some very divisive reactions to The Last Jedi have somewhat undermined that. Now, it looks like things could get even worse, as a source close to the production of Solo: A Star Wars Story has revealed the company is bracing itself for that film to fail significantly.

A source close to the film’s production has informed us: “Disney is bracing themselves for the Han Solo movie to bomb. They were worried about it before all The Last Jedi controversy, but now they’re essentially writing Solo off. The lead actor, Alden Ehrenreich, can’t act, and they had a dialogue coach on hand for all of his scenes. On top of that, the script is unworkable. It’s going to be a car crash.”

Part of this information was already somewhat backed up by a story that circulated online back in June about the production team having reportedly brought in an acting coach in for lead actor Alden Ehrenreich. The Hollywood Reporter stated that Lucasfilm executives had insisted on the measure when footage was shown to them of Eichenreich playing the iconic smuggler, and it fell far short of the standard they had been expecting.

[From Screen Geek]

Now I feel sorry for Alden Ehrenreich – to be so publicly called out as a terrible actor, that’s awful for him. I mean, I think highly of Harrison Ford’s acting skills, but let’s not pretend that the Star Wars universe is the best showcase for ANY actor’s acting skills. As for all of this hand-wringing about the film… something similar happened with Rogue One and it still went on to become a hugely successful film. I would argue – as I did argue in the opening paragraphs – that Star Wars exhaustion/oversaturation will do more damage to the Star Wars brand than any behind-the-scenes drama with directors, but what do I know? I’ve been bitching about the lack of sustainability with these massive superhero/sci-fi franchises for years, and they keep chugging along.

But it feels like the bigger lesson here is that Disney needs to get their f–king house in order when it comes to proper pre-production. Warner Bros has a similar problem with their DC Comic franchises too – all of the script/story drama should have been worked out in preproduction. By the first day of production, you should know exactly what f–king story you’re trying to tell and everything should be locked in. That’s not the way so many of these massive films are operating though. Also: stop throwing all of this money on mediocre white men to direct these films.

66th Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) - 'Hail, Caesar! - Photocall

Photos courtesy of Disney, WENN.

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64 Responses to “‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ is apparently a huge, shambolic mess, no surprise”

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  1. Veronica says:


    I don’t understand what Disney thought they were doing with this franchise. They think of Star Wars fans as cash grabs – and we are, don’t get me wrong – but we are also one often most demanding fandoms in the world. TLJ and the newer movies were bound to bother people to begin with because it was something different, but that’s not the real problem. The problem is the lack of vision. They rushed out production to start making up that $5 billion price tag, and it shows. The movies aren’t cohesive. The characters aren’t fully formed. There are clear inconsistencies with how Abrams viewed TFA versus where Johnson took the story in TLJ.

    After watching how fans responded to the prequels – which, despite their flaws, had a very clear trajectory and intent – I’m not sure why they thought rushing the product out would be a good idea. They needed to take another year and flesh out a fully formed arc for these films. Now they’re dealing with TLJ having the largest second week drop off of any SW film in the franchise, and well…anyone could have seen that coming.

    • kimbers says:

      I watched the prequels as they came out, but only first watched them in episode order 1-7 this xmas. loved them all -almost. Tfa sucked.

      the prequels really do enhance the story. I hate to admit.

      • Amelie says:

        I disagree completely about the prequels. To my knowledge, no one cared in the least how Darth Vader became Darth Vader. I never saw the point in telling the story since we all know he became evil. It’s like, okay we know what will happen! Not really interested in watching this story since I already know its conclusion. Not to mention the little boy who played Anakin (now obviously an adult) ended up being traumatized by the role and made fun of by his classmates. And Hayden Christenson didn’t fare much better but then the cheesy Star Wars dialogue never helped and he and Natalie Portman had zero chemistry. I should probably rewatch the prequels from start to finish since it’s been awhile but they never enhanced the story at all. They just reinforced the fact Darth Vader’s backstory never had to be told.

      • SlightlyAnonny says:

        @Amelie and kimbers. I think the prequels are, not good but worth watching, not for how Vader rose but for how the Republic and the Jedi fell. All the things they did wrong/were blind to that let the Emperor go unseen for so long living amongst all these Force-sensitive folks. I also think the Clone Wars series helps expand on how badly the Jedi/Republic messed up and also how good Sidious was at being bad.

      • INeedANap says:

        The prequels add cool details but they’re so poorly done. George Lucas is a man with great ideas and no talent in executing them. The original trilogy worked because A) his wife and editor kerjiggered the plot and filming enough to make them work and B) the expectations were fairly low, there were so few good sci fi properties at the time.

      • Cranberry says:

        Already knowing the how a story’s and character’s end means that a prequel has a more difficult challenge to make the characters and events very compelling. The movie needs to be able to stand on it’s own, not just be another stepping stone, filler movie to through at the fans for the cheap cash.

      • Miss Melissa says:

        Vader’s origin story could have been done in one longer film.

        And there would have been no need for a racist trade federation, BS Jango Fett, Jar Jar Binks, or the BS love story with awkward dialogue that brought second hand embarrassment, or the BS about Anakin having no father other than the force (aka, Jedi Jesus).

        Terrible films that should also have been worked out ahead and had a clear and concise direction, not made up as they went along to entertain Lucas’ 9-year-old son.

      • Amelie says:

        @ Miss Melissa you just reminded me that Anakin has “no father” ! I completely forgot that incredibly ridiculous detail that he was supposed to be some kind of Force prodigy baby or something haha.

        Had they really wanted to do the prequels justice, I wonder if a limited TV series/made for TV movies (like Netflix had it been around at the time) would have been better. Origin stories can be told if they are compelling though I never had any real interest in Darth Vader’s Journey to Evil. Smallville was successful for a long time (I even watched some of the earlier seasons before I kind of lost interest), the ill fated friendship between Clark and Lex Luthor was compelling and interesting. But I dunno, someone mentioned the fall of the Republic and the Jedi and that could be cool to explore but unfortunately it’s already been done with the horrible prequels through the lens of Anakin’s poorly told story.

      • Rtms says:

        The Clone Wars TV series is where the story and Vader’s creation come into better focus and actually make sense. The prequels give only surface reasons for the fall of the Jedi and Skywalker where the series fleshes this out x100.

      • Shelly says:

        The clone wars animated series was the best.
        It humanized Anakin and showed what a good person he was at his base level.
        Then you watched as he slowly started to slip.
        It shows what a talented general he was, his skill, his loyalty ,his friendship.
        All the things the crappy movies didn’t show.
        They just show a cardboard cutout.
        The series made you care about him

    • Holly hobby says:

      I grew up watching the originals. To this day I have not watched nor acknowledge the existence of those abhorrent prequels. I tried to watch Rogue One but fell asleep. Watched the force awakens and it felt like a retread. Skipped the last Jedi but dh and the kids saw it. I did get a cliff notes play by play from the kids. What I heard didn’t impress me at all.

      Now this clusterf—k! I didn’t think it was a good idea when they announced it. My opinion dropped several notches after we were introduced to the new Solo.

      Disney we don’t need anymore poorly done StAr Wars!

  2. Morning Coffee says:

    Sorry, but Ron Howard is not a “mediocre white man” director. As for their lead actor not being able to act? LOL! That is hilarious. Didn’t they have huge casting calls/auditions? Wasn’t this a highly prized role? OMG…

    • Mia4s says:

      The “can’t act” thing seems like hyperbole. He’s been good in other things. However if behind the scenes between directors being replaced and confusion/disagreement on tone I could see the poor guy having a hell of a time trying to figure out the performance they want. Frankly if this turns out to be awful, he’s the last person I would blame.

      • Ferdinand says:

        @MIA4S This! He’s been good in other movies. I think is a case where they want to emulate Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and this he “can’t act”. They should’ve gone with another actor if they wanted a carbon copy of Ford’s Solo.

      • Miss Melissa says:

        I don’t know, he was atrocious in that Southern witch film and had zero chemistry with the lead he was supposed to be in love with.

      • winterforever says:

        @missmelissa AGREED! He was absolutely AWFUL in that movie. That weird shrill “southern” accent. I live in the south and couldn’t make out what the hell he was doing.

    • JosieH says:

      Yep. If Ron Howard gets slapped with the “mediocre” label, then you have to also give it to Patty Jenkins.

    • Mara says:

      That was my first thought too. Surely for a role this big auditioning is a must, even if the actor has been in other things he has never played Han Solo before.
      I don’t think it will bomb though, I can think of plenty of guys I know, who don’t follow gossip or fan news, who will see that there is a Han Solo film out and buy their tickets immediately. Even if the reviews are bad and even if some of them hated The Last Jedi.

    • Jamie42 says:

      Ehrenreich was very funny in “Hail Caesar!”–the standout, even. And if you look at Ron Howard’s directing credits, it’s pretty clear that he isn’t a “mediocre” director.

  3. inthekitchen says:

    ” Also: stop throwing all of this money on mediocre white men to direct these films. ”

    And act in them, apparently. But we all know this will never happen. Mediocre white men in Hollywood – these two included – will go on to get chance after chance, film after film, role after role.

    • JosieH says:

      You’re surely not referring to Lord and Miller, are you? Their four movies have Rotten Tomatoes scores of 87%, 85%, 96%, and 84% – and all of them were hits. If that’s mediocre, then all female directors are mediocre too.

  4. Mia4s says:

    That source website looks suspect as hell but I admit this movie just feels like a disaster waiting to happen.

    People keep talking about “well Rogue One had reported issues and reshoots too”…sure. They had a few weeks of new shooting and ended up with a massive critical, audience and billion dollar plus success. Sure. Great. A few WEEKS of shooting. Solo shot for four months, fired the directors with two weeks to go, then shot for another four MONTHS! They filmed the movie twice. What must that have costs?!

    In addition they will not have a Star Wars Celebration appearance or a Comic Con presence like all the other films did. Plus following the pattern of the other films we would already have a trailer and real poster by now. Then their promotional tour will start just as Infinity War opens…and Deadpool 2 opens a week after they do….followed by Incredibles 2.

    That is ROUGH.

    • teacakes says:

      I’m not optimistic about Solo, at least in part because the entire premise is ridiculous (we already HAVE young Han Solo, we saw him in the OT! No Star Wars fan seriously wants some ‘young Han’ played by anyone who isn’t Harrison Ford) and because I have reservations about some of the cast (mainly Emilia – Alden has been decent in other stuff, as people noted).

      Rogue One also had months and months of bad press dogging it but never at any point was the competence of a single cast member in question and it had the benefit of being about characters we’d never met before and whose fate we didn’t know. And it ultimately delivered well beyond any expectations Disney had for a spinoff with no Skywalker/possible Skywalker protagonists, no Jedi and no lightsabers until the very end of the film. If Solo can’t match or at least come close to that when its main protagonist is frakking Han Solo, it’s not going to go down as a success.

  5. BlueSky says:

    Um, now they are figuring out he can’t act?? Didn’t he have to audition or something???

    • Cranberry says:

      Yeah right. I’m no fan of his, but it seems like they made a character ‘type’ mistake that they’re trying to blame on the actor. They did not cast the right actor that fit the type of character that had already been established to millions of fans by Harrison Ford.

  6. Kealeen says:

    I generally agree about SW films not being a great showcase for any actor’s skills, but damn if Mark Hamill wasn’t fantastic in The Last Jedi. It really showed how he had grown as an actor since the original trilogy.

    • Jenns says:

      He really was amazing. I think the entire cast in TLJ was great–especially Adam Driver.

      I know TLJ has been divisive, but after seeing it 3 times, it may be one of my favorite SW movies ever. I love the direction that the story is taking and the risks Rian Johnson took with it. I can’t wait to see his own trilogy.

      As for Solo, there was a lot of anxiety behind the scenes about Rogue One and that one did just fine. Ron Howard might be able to salvage some of it.

      • Deets says:

        TLJ was my favourite of all of them. I’ve never considered myself a ‘fan’, until this one.
        Also never wanted to bang a Vader knock off before, so there’s firsts for everything in this movie.

      • Vex says:

        Totally agree!! I feel like all the TFA/TLJ cast are really talented. They seem to have spent a lot of time picking good actors for the parts – more so than this Solo movie, which seems kind of rushed (apart from Donald Glover, who is the perfect choice)

      • teacakes says:

        Please add me to the growing list of people who are slightly disturbed by finding Grandkid Vader attractive. He doesn’t have anywhere close to the same effect on me as Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, but it’s still mildly weird lol.

        @Vex – I’m wondering how the casting directors slipped up on Solo, the cast there is not only not up to TFA/TLJ standards but it’s not even close to the calibre of the cast of the other standalone, Rogue One. The R1 cast was seriously fantastic, I couldn’t believe they’d got Felicity, Diego and Donnie freaking Yen together for Star Wars.

        Unless of course this Alden and Emilia turn out to have hitherto unseen strengths as actors brought out by Ron Howard here the way Patty Jenkins did for Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman.

      • Cee says:

        I hated TLJ. I could see Disney’s hand in all of those Marvel-esque gags (particularly with the Porgs or whatever they’re called). I don’t like Driver’s character, I can’t fully hate him or want redemption for him – I just want him to go away and disappear.

        I loved Rogue One! TFA was a good “welcome back”.

        But I loved Hamill and Daisy in it. I loved how Hope never truly dies, and the final battle scene, when the Rebellion destroys the First Order ship, WAS FANTASTIC. I am also truly happy to see so many different faces because representation does matter. When I was a kid I was told “girls can’t be Jedis”. Now, girls can be Jedis, and non-white actors can be important characters too.

  7. SlightlyAnonny says:

    I always thought Taren Edgerton would have been great for the Han Solo role. He had charisma and could play the cocky/bluster and vulnerability if needed. When they cast this guy, my enthusiasm (which was never really that high) waned. Even if it “flops” it will still make a crapton of money.

    • Kealeen says:

      All of this.

    • Mia4s says:

      “Even if it “flops” it will still make a crapton of money.”

      It’s a perception issue with Star Wars. If it makes $750-800 million it will be fine financially and stand with or above most of Marvel’s movies…but that will be $300 million dollars less than Rogue One the other Star Wars “stand-alone”. So then Solo would be a success…and a failure. Points of view.

      • teacakes says:

        It didn’t help that Rogue One overperformed, and also did it after months of bad press. If Solo can’t break the $850-900 million mark, it won’t be seen as a success compared to its predecessor spinoff.

    • BorderMollie says:

      That would have been such a good choice! I mean if you’re going to cast from the crop of ‘young, mildly attractive white dudes’ at least get the talented one.

      I’m not sure about the money part though. They said the same about Justice League and it hasn’t broken even yet. It’s made less than the solo Doctor Strange movie. Be careful Disney!

  8. Shambles says:

    Lmao Donald Glover’s face pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

    I do think Alden Ehrenreich is gorgeous, though. I liked looking at him in that Beautiful Creatures movie. *shrugs*

    • Deets says:

      I like how there are different strokes for different folks.
      You can have him, I’ll take Driver in the Kylo Ren costume and Glover however he pleases.

      • SnowMercy says:

        YES. Adam Driver as Supreme Leader Kylo Ren just does it for me. I can’t help myself! If I could find this irl I’d be a very happy lady.

  9. PIa says:

    I think they are underselling the movie to make it seem that any box office success would be considered a “win”.

    • teacakes says:

      If that’s true then that is the dumbest strategy ever – people already have an apples-to-apples comparison lined up with Rogue One, which is still the highest-grossing movie of the last 12 months in North America – and if Solo can’t match that it’ll be seen as underwhelming the way Batman v Superman is.

  10. isadora says:

    I don’t know Alden Ehrenreich personally but he has worked with big name directors before ( Coppola, Coen brothers) and never was there a mention that he couldn’t act. So i don’t know what to think about that.

    But if Disneys only criteria was to find someone to look and act like Harisson Ford then maybe they should’ve hired Anthony Ingruber.

    I mean not only does he look like a young Harisson Ford but he sounds like one too.

    Also he played the younger version of Harissons character in The age of Adeline.

    • Shambles says:

      It seems like they might be making him a scapegoat for a messy production. I don’t think he’s a bad actor.

    • winosaurusrex says:

      My husband and I thought the EXACT same thing when they were casting. Hire Anthony Ingruber! He is young Harrison, and he’s done it before!

      I like Alden, he is fun, but he is not Han Solo.

    • Liberty says:

      Funny – my friends all said it should have been Ingruber, and I agreed.

      That said, it is rude to blame the current actor for the mess.

  11. B says:

    Not buying this. Emilia Clarke is always the worst actress in anything, ever. Not buying that they just singled out Alden’s acting.

    • Deets says:

      Emilia is painfully bad. Maybe she had lessons between last season of thrones and this.

      Also, that picture is vanilla oatmeal. Everyone is the same shade of pale pink, except for Glover and Chewie. Taste the rainbow casting director, take it from skittles.

  12. Vex says:

    I kind of always thought this was going to flop, just because I really don’t think audiences particularly care about ‘origin stories’ of iconic characters. They’re ALWAYS disappointing!

    That said, I do feel sorry for Alden Ehrenreich; I saw him in Hail Caesar and thought he was really good. I think Disney are probably just trying to hedge their bets and lower everyone’s expectations, because the production has been such a mess. That way reviews will say ‘it’s actually alright, despite all the rumours we heard saying it would be crap’.

    But I still think Taron Egerton should have played Han.

  13. Ferdinand says:

    Why would you have to go with “mediocre white men”? Jeez, can’t we just have a conversation where people don’t point out gender and color ? That felt forced.

    Anyway, the directors this movie has had are great at what they do. The first one, brothers just created a more funny type of movie, but hey! Comedy is what they do and known for it! Disney thought this would be bad and brought in a more “serious and prestige “ director. Neither seemed to work. Maybe an action movie director would’ve?

    • Patty says:

      I think she pointed it out because it’s a thing in Hollywood to continue to hire mediocre white men or unproven white men and women and other ethnicities don’t get the same kind of breaks.

      CT helmed Jurassic World and even though most people thought the story was derivative, the acting subpar, and the directing not that great – Disney hired him to do the final film in the current Star Wars trilogy. (Granted he had since been replaced).

      And no the original directors of the Han Solo film are critics darlings – they aren’t battle tested. One could ask was it smart to have have two brothers known for small budget offbeat comedy films helming a blockbuster property – probably not. But white men continue to get all the breaks. It’s a valid issue to bring up and I think the attitude of some is well if you are hiring all of these white guys who don’t have the ouvre to justify being hired why not go for a woman or a minority.

      You know who should they should have got for the Han Solo movie in my opinion was Kathryn Bigelow. She’s a couple of misses but she always produces well directed and interesting works. She knows how to get great performances out of her actors and she knows how to do action.

      • JosieH says:

        But if it wasn’t smart to hire Lord/Miller because they made their bones working on smaller-scale films, then was it also not smart for Warner Bros. to hire Patty Jenkins? After all, her level of experience is less than that of Lord and Miller.

        The track record of Lord/Miller, both critically and commercially, is stellar. Their resume has nothing but hits. To say they didn’t deserve a chance at a franchise is nuts. Sorry, but it’s just hating on two people because you don’t like their race and gender. Not cool.

        If you’re really making the argument that these white guys being hired are so very unqualified, so hey, why not hire a woman or minority who’s even less qualified, then I don’t know what to say to that – it’s so self-contradicting. If nobody’s qualified, then how can you complain about anybody not getting a particular gig?

        Oh, and Kathryn Bigelow has been offered plenty of franchises – she doesn’t want to do one. Please leave her out of the conversation from now on. She wants to do her own thing.

      • Patty says:

        @Josieh I never said I had a problem with LM. I’m not hating on anyone because of their gender or race. I was replying to another comment questioning why there was mention about mediocre white men. Read my comment – I never called them mediocre and in fact acknowledged that they are critical darlings.

  14. Kelly says:

    I recall similar stories circulating late 2016/early 2017 about how Wonder Woman was a mess too. The trailers looked fine but so did Suicide Squad’s and that was a disappointment (to put it mildly). Wonder Woman turned out to be one of the better movies of 2017.

    I’ll still go see Solo opening weekend, because it’s a Star Wars movie. I thought Rouge One was decent, having a different type of heroes and villain. The reshoots in it are rather obvious with Darth Vader having more than a cameo appearance to appease some of the more regressive elements of the fanbase.

    I do think that the new Star Wars villains are more interesting in how they’ve made the choices they’ve made and there really isn’t a redemption angle in their stories. Krenic in Rouge One was a mid-level bureaucrat in way over his head playing with the big bads Tarkin and Vader. Hux and Kylo Ren are a pair of spoiled, immature men who are frightening because they have competent people under them and lots of deadly toys to wreck the galaxy. It’s like if Jared Kushner and the older Trump boys were in charge of the US.

  15. Dinah says:

    I hope the end result won’t be as bad, as I’m looking to see more of Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She was wonderful in Fleabag.

  16. Bob says:

    Was Ralph Fiennes the dialogue coach? I’ve only seen Ehrenreich in Hail Caesar, but I’m not buying that he’s a shitty actor at all. His character in that was a shitty actor and it takes a skilled actor to pull that off — an unskilled person would play it too broadly.

    Besides, the idea that bad acting could ruin a Star Wars movie is absurd. It’s not that they’re simply not good showcases for talent, it’s that George Lucas’ ethos was committed to draining the charisma from his actors. That Harrison Ford managed to smuggle some through in the original trilogy was a miracle. Sam Jackson, Liam Neeson, and Ewan McGregor were sapped. Natalie Portman was lucky she could get hired again for quality projects. A Star Wars movie is the polar opposite of a one-man show on Broadway. Trying to blame it on the actor suggests these people have no fucking clue what they’re doing.

  17. MAF says:

    No one asked for this film. The only one being asked for, and is still being asked for, is Obi-Wan.

  18. wood dragon says:

    It isn’t that Alden can’t act. He can. They just got their casting wrong…on top of being in a big greedy hurry to get another Star Wars movie out when they should have taken some time and care with the whole process.

  19. Parigo says:

    It’s absolutely ridiculous that they’re scapegoating Alden after he was chosen during a grueling casting process over a 1000 young actors. If he sucks, THEY got it wrong.

    Even if he sucks, it’s not like this is Shakespeare or anything. He could give a mediocre performance in a *decent* big screen production and all would be fine.

  20. xdanix says:

    This article is reminding me almost exactly of all those stories that came out about Wonder Woman prior to its release- those, too, said the film was in trouble, a mess, etc and that people behind the scenes were panicking. We know the exact opposite ended up being true.

    To be honest, I probably won’t even see this movie- I’ve tried repeatedly to get into the Star Wars movies and have just never managed it. I am just not a Star Wars person. I hope, for the sake of the people who are so looking forward to it, that it ends up being good, and worthy of their excitement. But whether it ends up holding up or not, I’d take pieces like this with a grain of salt. Sometimes they get it right (Justice League, sadly) but just as often, like with Wonder Woman, they get it totally wrong.

  21. AnotherDirtyMartini says:

    The first thing that caught my eye was the claim that Alden Ehrenreich “cannot act”. That’s utter and complete bulls-it! I’ve seen him carry a movie! So no. Poor writing? Probably? Poor production? Maybe? Who knows.

  22. winterforever says:

    Garrett Hedlund would have been an amazing choice as Han. He has the same looks and swagger in spades.