In the world of Cinema, prequels are hardly ever a good idea. Even with the auteur of the source material at the helm, retelling the start of a characters story arc is tricky and more often than not leaves fans bitterly disappointed. So it comes as no surprise that when production problems came up during the filming of the Han Solo Anthology movie it left fans collectively holding their breath. Things seemed even more grim when with just five weeks of shooting remaining on the Han Solo Anthology film Kathleen Kennedy decided to cut ties with Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The move only created more fan speculation on the fate of the film. What could have prompted Kennedy to make the move? What happens next? We’ll try to dig a little deeper and make sense of all the information coming from the set to find out how and if the Star Wars train is beginning to fall off the rails.
According to sources the firing of Phil Lord and Chris Miller is truly due to creative differences, with the crux of those differences being the Directing Duo’s’ penchant for working at their own place, their perceived indecisiveness and their preference for improvisation over the written word. The latter may be what ultimately spelled their doom on the production that leads us to the question, wasn’t Kathleen Kennedy looking for filmmakers who could bring their own vision and creative license to the Star Wars Franchise? Unfortunately When dealing with as beloved and well established a character as Han Solo it appears that the answer is no.
Rumors suggest that Lord and Miller were taking too much creative freedom with the Han Solo script, turning everyone’s favorite reluctant and sarcastic hero into an “Ace Ventura” like screwball in space. Alden Ehrenreich’s performance of Han Solo was so disturbing that recently an acting coach was sent to help with his performance, after Lucasfilm had reviewed the dailies. The film had begun to stray too far from Lawrence Kasdan’s script, causing a rift between the Kasdan and the directing duo. Kasdan who co-penned arguably the two best films in the Saga, The Empire Strikes Back and The Force Awakens, carries a large amount of influence within Lucasfilm and couldn’t stand to see his vision ruined via improvisation. The projected tone and feel was bordering on parody, a far cry from the rest of the Star Wars Cinematic Universe. Although no one can dispute the genius of Lord and Miller, who are responsible for 21 and 22 Jump Street and the Leto Movie, it seems that the duo had bitten off more than they could chew and production was suffering due to it. Furthermore Lord And Miller’s reluctance to use the suggested camera placement variations also left the production with less than an ideal number of options to choose from in the editing process. The previous pace of the production has forced filming to be extended into September when the previous end date was slated for the end of July. Kathleen Kennedy’s decision to replace the young directors ultimately seems less likely an indication of their failure as a whole, but rather an attempt to Salvage the film and keep it in line for its May 2018 release date.
In the Future Kennedy may stick to safer directorial choices. Although she would like to inject new creative visions into the franchise, not every fresh voice in the medium is ready to take on a production of this magnitude with the same vision the studio has. This isn’t the first time she’s had to remove a director in the middle of production. Tony Gilroy came on to assist with Rogue One with cooperation from Gareth Edwards, when Edwards’ vision was deemed too dark and extensive re-shoots had to be scheduled. Lord and Miller were known for their improvisational style, which seems to clash with the semi-formulaic nature of filming a SW movie. When you have large amounts of CGI to inject into the background of scenes, ad-libbing more often than not will have to be kept to a minimum.
The good new is that Ron Howard has come on to take over directorial duties. Howards experience with large productions brings some optimism back to a Han Solo film many fans aren’t sure they really want. After years of lamenting the prequel trilogy, fans certainly were not looking for a “goofy buddy cop” Star Wars movie starring Han and Chewie no matter how fun that sounds. If anything has been learned from the prequels, it’s don’t ruin the characters we love with a subpar origin story.