Friday, June 22, 2018

Ron Howard wasn't the right director for a Star Wars movie but that really isn't his fault.

It's official. So if you haven't heard in the news yet, SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY is the first "flop" in the Star Wars franchise. It will still earn money, but compared to all the other Star Wars properties, it falls far short for expectations from a golden egg-producing goose. Personally, I saw the film, and I liked it. And I have my own theory as to why it flopped, but I'm going to air those after I tell you what other people are saying:


1) It was released at the wrong time.
2) People didn't like The Last Jedi as much as the critics, and hence, they were apathetic.
3) There's viewer fatigue.
4) People didn't want to see another actor take on the iconic role of Han Solo.

And now here's my reason: Ron Howard isn't good at making epic movies that are light on character and big on hair-raising, mouth-dropping moments. Star Wars is supposed to be epic in scope. It's supposed to dazzle and give moments of awe. In Rogue One, there was a moment of awe when the Death Star fired its weapon on a city and the land wave that followed had me awe-struck. Plus it was filmed in such a way as to eclipse a sun.

Ron Howard doesn't do "awe." He does character films, which admittedly Solo is one of these. His strengths are cerebral...getting into the head of characters like in A Beautiful Mind or in Cocoon, which is a slow-burning film that shows old people becoming young again. But Star Wars isn't about character...people don't go to these movies to get into the head of Han Solo. They don't go to the movie to obtain all the feels from Princess Leia's suffering over two hours. People go to a Star Wars movie to experience awe, and Ron Howard was the wrong person to realize this for the franchise.

The moment in the film that had the most "awe" packed into it was probably when the train exploded. And it took out the top of a mountain and was mostly in an uninhabited place so nobody cared. The second moment was when a space monster got sucked into a black hole. But nobody cared at that point either because you know Han Solo survives because he's in later movies. It was just a throwaway monster to use to make the escape from the Kessel Mines kind of interesting.

However, when I think about how Ron Howard put together Solo, I also don't think it's his fault either. It's clear that Disney doesn't understand what makes Star Wars, and that they've gotten lucky thus far by hiring directors who obviously do. With Solo, Ron Howard was probably someone who was enthusiastic to do it even after production hell erupted over directors that were supposed to come in and make the film. Add to this the fact that he had a limited timeline, the budget blew out of control, and there were all kinds of problems that he needed to deal with to get it to the cinema on time. So's Ron's fault while simultaneously NOT being his fault.

Unfortunately, because SOLO did poorly, all the other Star Wars stories in the works have now been put on hold. That kinda sucks. At least we have an endless future of Jurassic Park stories to whet our appetites, even if the backbone of that franchise is just humans running and screaming. However, (and just to be fair) Jurassic World did give us running in high heels, so that was new.


Helena Soister alerted me via personal email that none of her comments were being published, and I didn't know this (thank you Helena). I apologize if any of you have been thinking that I ghosted you or something like that. This isn't the case, and you should be able to comment on the blog now going back five days before the "held for moderation" thing happens on older blog posts.

I'm not sure what has changed with Blogger, but I no longer get email notifications that someone has left a comment on my blog. That was a nice feature that Google is either working on or is currently broken until it gets fixed for Blogger. I imagine it's a rather low priority for them.

Helena: I did respond to your email :)

Kevin Long: I sent you an email yesterday (I've actually sent a couple). If you read this, could you check your spam and see if you've received any and get back to me.

Patrick: What ARC of Alan Dean Foster's do you have? You mentioned it the other day.

Other than that, have a nice weekend. I'm reading my first Tad Williams books, and they are pretty good so far. I guess you'll hear more about them in the future. Right now, I'm seeing a strong influence on George R.R. Martin that I never knew about. Go figure, and more on this later.


  1. There are always so many theories about why movies fail. Hopefully they'll learn the lessons and make better ones in the future.

    Jeanne figured out how to fix the email notifications. (I hope you're checking your comments so you'll see this.) Go into Settings-->Email. Delete your email from the Comment Notification Email box. Save Settings. Then, reenter your email. It worked for Jeanne. We'll see if it works for me.

    (Just checked my email. It's working!)

  2. Didn't he also direct Willow? That movie was also to be epic but failed on many levels.
    Where are all these Last Jedi haters? Can we give them a hug and tell them it will be all right? (Sorry, I enjoyed the heck out of the film.)
    Howard is great with people, but probably not so much with epic.

    1. Oh, and did you see the nuts campaigning to remake The Last Jedi? As one person pointed out, how can they have three hundred million in backers when they don't have a script or the rights to the movie? Some people have too much time on their hands...

    2. I didn't see the huge campaign to remake it. Honestly, what's done is done as far as The Last Jedi goes. Disney has a huge opportunity now that they've cleared out the old cast to just go in an entirely new and exciting direction. Let's just hope they don't stumble like Star Trek did with its new crew.

  3. It might have gone different if he had been tapped at the start but maybe not. I don't get emails for my blog either lately. It is annoying.

    1. Maybe. But the "Inferno" movie with Dan Brown was also a huge let down too. Howard knows how to direct. He's an Oscar winner and "A Beautiful Mind" was fantastic. I just think he's at his best when you get close to your subjects, and where humanizing them (and looking into their heads) really is the bread and butter of the story.

  4. The problem was definitely not Ron Howard.
    There was probably an issue with the script, but there was definitely an issue with the previous directing duo trashing the film. Generally speaking, when you have to re-shoot 70% of the movie, the movie isn't going too work.

  5. Really interesting read. I'll probably end up seeing this but at least I know now I can wait.

  6. One of my favorite Ron Howard movies is Cinderella Man, which on top of being a heart-felt movie that was just right for him, the cinematography was gorgeous.

    I'm glad you were able to straighten out the comment problem. It drives me nuts when technology overrules what we expect to happen. Now you know that you have more readers and comments than your own blog was showing you!

    1. So true. Are you still blogging? If so, what is your blog address?

  7. Ron Howard and his talent was abused by Solo. His talents, as you said, are in the depth of character and atmosphere. I couldn't select just one of his movies to say is my best. Who knew? Opie to Happy Days to this awesome director. Excellent.

  8. Once it sank in about Luke and Han being killed just sort of killed it for me as well.

  9. I'm only a lukewarm Star Wars fan so I probably won't see the latest until I can rent it ondemand. If you figure out why you're not getting email notification about comments, please let me know. I couldn't figure out what changed or how to fix it.
    My sister is a big Tad Williams fan. I have some of his books but haven't started reading them yet.

    1. I just read Liz's comment about fixing comments above. I'll try that. Thanks.