FOR MORE than a year, the kind of questions that trail most any next Star Wars film had escalated into full-scale worries when it came to the Han Solo origin story.
Who would direct? Who would direct after the first directing team was fired? Who would dare try to fill Harrison Ford’s shoes in somewhat younger form? And just as challenging, who would have the panache to try to fill Billy Dee Williams’s cape as Lando Calrissian?
Well, good news. With the first wave of reviews for “Solo: A Star Wars Story” (opening May 25) having just docked, here are some answers and assurances concerning some of the spinoff movie’s most pressing questions:
1. Did “Solo” avert the type of cinematic disaster that some social-media doomsayers had predicted?
Fear not: Lucasfilm’s cinematic universe is safe, according to early critical consensus.
“Solo” has an average score of 66 on Metacritic.com, and a 72 percent certified “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. For comparison’s sake, the franchise’s most recent spinoff film, 2016’s “Rogue One,” scored a 65 on Metacritic and 85 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
So “Solo” is safely skirting embarrassment and looking viable enough to spawn sequels.
Some top reviewers, though, are finding the new release underwhelming. Writes The Washington Post‘s Ann Hornaday: ” ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ gets the job done with little fuss, but also with precious little finesse. It might arguably succeed in teeing up the cinematic narrative that would change movies forever. But in both substance and execution, it bears but a whisper of the revolution to come.”
And Slate, in its pan of “Solo,” says it “isn’t a stand-alone film so much as a corporate directive made flesh, a quarterly earnings report in a vest and black leather boots.”
2. Did Ron Howard “save” the film — or did he steer too “safe”?
Star Wars films have had a couple of white-knuckle landings since Disney bought Lucasfilm and rebooted George Lucas’s universe. Yet the late-stage firing of Chris Miller and Phil Lord (“Lego Movie”) by Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy over “creative differences” — leading to the swift hiring of Howard — sparked a bonfire of concerns that unceasingly burned among many fans, with the heat only increasing when it was reported that Howard was reshooting the majority of “Solo’s” scenes. (Miller and Lord retain…
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