Han Solo Film Directors Fired = I Got A Bad Feeling About This

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The movie world, not to mention Star Wars fans, are still in absolute shock over yesterday’s stunning news that the directors of next year’s Han Solo film, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, were fired from the film. What made the announcement so jaw dropping is that most of the film has been completed with only three weeks of principle photography remaining. That is just unheard of and feels unprofessional on the part of Disney and Lucasfilm to just let two talented filmmakers go when their film is nearly complete. On top of this, Lucasfilm is still standing by the film’s planned release date of May 2018. That is probably not going to happen.

So what happened? The truth is we may never really know. All we do know, based on trade reports, is that Phil Lord and Chris Miller clashed repeatedly with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and the film’s executive producer and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan. Much of that had to do with the improvisational directing style of the two directors that made the old guard executives uncomfortable with their take on a Star Wars film and the iconic character. Kasdan, who wrote the book on Han Solo in the original Star Wars film and Episode VII, has a distinct viewpoint of the space pirate. He saw Han as selfish and cynical, and wanted him portrayed in that manner. Meanwhile, the two young directors wanted to present Solo in a lighter, more comedic light. This would have complemented their humorous directing style as seen in the 21 Jump Street films, The Lego Movie and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Face it, Lord and Miller are more known for their comedic films so it was a surprise that they were chosen to direct Solo: A Star Wars Story (if that is indeed the final title).

The problem here is that they had been hired to direct the Star Wars spinoff film for quite some time. They were involved with Solo: A Star Wars Story from the beginning and started shooting it earlier this year in January. Shouldn’t the executives have known that these two would not fit into the world of Star Wars? Why let them go on for so long? Why didn’t someone at Lucasfilm had the foresight to nip the problem in the bud and replace them much earlier? Kennedy, Kasdan and other executives had to have worked closely with the two directors and had meetings with them. They must have stressed that the film was to be a certain way. They had to have picked up the notion that Lord and Miller may have wanted to try a different approach and be defiant. Whether Lucasfilm wants to admit this or not, Phil Lord and Chris Miller have genuine film creds. They have delivered well done films that pleased critics and audiences. Why not just have some faith in them and let them finish the film? The film studio could have then just taken over post-production like they did with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and edit it into the kind of Star Wars film they wanted.

We get that Disney and Lucasfilm are protective of their IP, after all, they spent billions to acquire it. With that mentality they are entitled to keep it safe and the best way to do that is to play it safe. So why go to the trouble of hiring these two to direct the film headlining the franchise’s most beloved hero? The reason to recruit new blood into the Star Wars franchise is to bring in fresh ideas and different outlooks into the Star Wars films. Firing Phil Lord and Chris Miller this far into production just shows a lack of confidence in this approach. Consider that director Garth Edwards was pushed aside in post-production of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story because Lucasfilm felt the film wasn’t quite a Star Wars film. Now this happens. Lucasfilm might as well just hire workhorses and yes-people to direct future films and give up this idea of bringing in new talent because clearly they are not welcome.

Now, Lucasfilm has to shut down production and find someone willing to come in at this late hour to complete Solo: A Star Wars Story. Will Lucasfilm pull a Salkind and have most of the film re-shot as what happened with Superman II? If so, kiss May 2018 goodbye. Can Ron Howard (the currently rumored frontrunner to take over UPDATE: Howard has officially been hired to finish the film) or Joe Johnston or someone safe come in and finish the film, while imparting their own vision? Finishing it is doable, but trying to leave their own mark is impossible with so much already filmed and with so little time. Who would want this burden?

In any event, the message is clear to other would-be Star Wars directors, especially those foolish enough to think they will have some measure of control: You can play with the Star Wars toys but at the end of the day, you have to give them back in the shape you found them.

José Soto

Post Script: After Ron Howard was picked to complete the film, Lucasfilm has been in full-scale PR damage control. Stories are circulating that the film’s star, young Han Solo himself, Alden Ehrenreich, was the first one to voice concerns about the direction of Solo: A Star Wars Story. Reportedly, the film was too comedic and slapsticky for the execs’ taste. On the one hand, Star Wars needs to branch out creatively, but on the other hand, a Han Solo film may not be the best venue to go full-scale comedy. If all this is true, the question still stands as to why Kennedy, Kasdan and the other higher ups let this go on for so long? The few bright spots coming out of this debacle are that Phil Lord and Chris Miller are now free to jump onboard the stalled Flash movie, which fits their style anyway, plus Howard has already shown that he has a lot of class with his recent praise of Lord and Miller’s work on the film. Given his close ties to Lucas and his solid directing background, he is the best choice to come in and salvage the film.

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Top 10 Star Wars Spinoffs We Want To See

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Thanks to the success of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the promise of next year’s Han Solo film, all Star Wars fans are speculating over what other Star Wars spinoffs will see the light of day. Due to the fact that the Star Wars universe is so rich and layered with fantastic characters and captivating stories, there are many possibilities. Here are the best ideas and characters for future Star Wars spinoff films.

the-knights-of-ren10. Rise of the Knights of Ren—An exploration of the time period in between the Original Trilogy (OT) and the new one would largely depend on the next two films coming out. They will probably provide some more details of how the new Jedi Order fell and how Snoke and Kylo Ren rose to power. From there, Lucasfilm can use the new information to build a film dealing with that time period.

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9. Knights of the Old RepublicThe popular RPG video game and comic book is ripe for a Star Wars spinoff film or three. Taking place thousands of years before the films, the story explores the early conflicts between the Jedi and the Sith, which would give filmmakers a fresh slate of characters and situations or adapt the characters from the game and comics.

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8. House Organa—While we’ve seen much about the Skywalkers and will learn Han Solo’s back story, we still don’t know a lot about Princess Leia and her adopted noble family. Actor Jimmy Smits is certainly game to reprise his role of Leia’s stepfather, Bail Organa, as seen in Rogue One. The character also appeared in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels, so a Star Wars spinoff film could easily focus on the ruling family of Alderaan and the role they played in the Galactic Republic and the Empire.

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7. Seeds of the Rebellion—This could be expanded from the current animated series Star Wars Rebels, actually such a film could simply be a live-action adaptation of the series. In that show we’ve seen how the Rebellion started to gain traction against the Empire before the OT. A live-action film could either use the characters and situations seen in Star Wars Rebels or go back to an earlier period and show how the Rebellion began right after the Prequel Trilogy (PT).

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6. Boba Fett and the Bounty Hunters— Originally Josh Trank was supposed to direct a Boba Fett film and it was close to being produced. But Trank’s career meltdown following his ill-fated Fantastic Four reboot placed the Fett film on hold. Boba Fett is a favorite among fans and a showcase for the galactic bounty hunter is a film too good to pass up. Throw in other galactic bounty hunters like Bossk, Cad Bane, Aurra Sing and IG-88 and you’ve got a classic Star Wars film.

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5. Shadows of the EmpireThe popular multimedia project from the ‘90s would do for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi what Rogue One did for Star Wars Episode III and A New Hope. That is to be a companion piece that sets up and bridges those two films. It may be tricky to pull off since convincing CG will be needed to recreate young versions of the original Star Wars cast, but the storyline could largely focus on the smuggler Dash Rendar, the evil Prince Xizor, Boba Fett and, of course, Darth Vader.

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4. Clone Troopers—Thanks to Star Wars: The Clone Wars the nameless and countless clone soldiers have been given distinct identities like Captain Rex, Cody, Fives, and Echo. Many great episodes of that animated series were devoted to the clone troopers and a film could cover their point of view in the Clone Wars or their part in the infamous Order 66. As long as Temeura Morrison is willing to revisit the role(s) then a film focusing on the grunt soldiers of the Republic is an idea worth exploring.

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3. Yoda—The wise and surprisingly mighty Jedi Master has a way of throwing people off guard as to his true nature. This was best demonstrated in The Empire Strikes Back when he first appeared as a harmless and daffy creature that later showed a jaw-dropping mastery of the Force.  Another instance came in Star Wars Episode II when he displayed his fighting prowess to the shock of audiences. His small stature and Zen-like demeanor hide much about Yoda, which is why a Star Wars spinoff film is a perfect vehicle to explore his centuries-long history.

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2. Ahsoka Tano—As the most popular original character in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the young Padawan of Anakin Skywalker won over many fans with her plucky attitude and bravery. Throughout the series Ahsoka grew from an immature warrior into a more seasoned and moral-centered Jedi who surprised everyone when she left the Jedi Order in disillusionment. Later, she turned up in Star Wars Rebels as an adult fighting for the Rebel cause and even confronted her former teacher, Anakin, now turned into Darth Vader. She is one of the best developed female characters in all of Star Wars and a live-action film devoted to Ahsoka Tano is just begging to be made.

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1. Obi-Wan Kenobi—The noble Jedi Knight, as portrayed by Ewan MacGregor, was one of the best characters in the PT films. The actor has expressed an eagerness to return to the role and rumors are swirling that one or two films are being planned featuring Kenobi. We’ve made the case before as to why Obi-Wan Kenobi deserves a Star Wars spinoff film and it could explore his history as a Padawan and his time in between the PT and OT when he watched over the one who would truly bring balance to the Force, Luke Skywalker.

So, would any of these characters and stories make your own list of future Star Wars spinoffs? Or are there others missing from this list? Let us know!

José Soto

Rogue One: The Most Pivotal Star Wars Film To Date

star-wars-rogue-one-characters-names-vehicles The very first Star Wars spinoff film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is scoring big in theaters and with audiences. Despite its faults, the film is a rollicking success not just in terms of box office dollars but for its many merits. This is critically important considering that a lot was riding on this particular Star Wars film that many do not realize, at first.

Of course, with its Star Wars credentials Rogue One was bound to open huge and have its own core fan base. The question before it premiered was would it not just resonate with fans, but establish its own identity without relying (for the most part) on the central tenets of a Star Wars film: the Skywalker clan, Jedi and Sith, lightsaber duels and some overreaching multi-film storyline. Rogue One is largely self-contained with its main characters making their only appearance in a Star Wars film. So no, you won’t see Jyn Erso or K2S0 popping up in future films. That is a huge gamble for the Star Wars juggernaut since this limits its marketing potential, at least with some narrow-sighted marketing heads.

Pushing The Envelope

Furthermore, as those who have seen the film will agree, this isn’t a typical Star Wars film. There isn’t an opening crawl, the film’s tone is distinctly more mature and feels more like a war film with actual consequences and has many characters with shades of grey. Honestly, this was to the film’s benefit because this shift in tone helped set it apart from Star Wars and pushed the envelope for what can be done with Star Wars in general. At the same time, it is clearly a part of the established Star Wars lore and serves as an important link not just to the Prequel and Original Trilogies but to the animated TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. Doing this last linkage now establishes both TV series as part of official canon.

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Storywise, the events in this film were extremely critical to the Star Wars universe. Think about it, the main story is about Rebel spies trying desperately to steal the plans to the Death Star. If they failed there would not be A New Hope. C-3P0 and R2-D2 would never have fallen into the hands of Luke Skywalker. He would never have destroyed the infernal Death Star and set off events leading to the Galactic Empire’s demise.

For these reasons, Rogue One was a huge test, a proving ground, for the Star Wars film franchise. erso-andor-and-droidBeing that it is the first spinoff that is quasi-independent of the “Saga” trilogies, there was a question if audiences and fans would accept it. If it failed either in ticket sales or not have excellent word of mouth, the fate of future Star Wars spinoffs would be in question. Of course, Lucasfilm would not abandon the spinoffs altogether, but the film studio might have only concentrated their spinoffs on established characters like Han Solo. The fact that the swashbuckling space pirate is the focus of the next Star Wars spinoffs is evidence that Lucasfilm was hedging its bet and planned on playing it safe in case Rogue One faltered.

Thankfully, Rogue One is a hit, partly because it did not play it safe while at the same time it took advantage of the rich Star Wars backstory. It’s the same formula that worked for the Star Trek spinoffs. The first one, Star Trek: The Next Generation, followed the same premise, a starship exploring the unknown except with new characters. Its success allowed for future spinoffs to try different tones, plots and characters, the best example being Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

What Lies Ahead

Now that Rogue One has proven that a Star Wars film doesn’t have to rely on established tenets to tell a riveting story that resonates with fans, what other stories can be told? After the Han Solo prequel, there is rumor that an overdue Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff will follow and at one time a Boba Fett film nearly went into production before its assigned director Josh Trank blacklisted himself with his dismal Fant4stic debacle.

dash-rendarThose films sound intriguing since they’re about popular and intriguing characters with the potential to carry their own films. However, Lucasfilm should take heed of Rogue One’s success and tell stories with new characters and situations. Or adapt popular ideas from other media. Live-action versions of Knights of the Old Republic or Shadows of the Empire would make terrific films. Perhaps, as C.S. Link suggested in his Rogue One: A Star Wars Story review, a film taking place in between Episode IV and V could be done. This concept of filling in the gaps between films or trilogies can be done with several films and there are many questions about what happened after Return of the Jedi and before The Force Awakens that are worth exploring.

rogue-one-on-the-beachRogue One: A Star Wars Story has opened up many possibilities in future Star Wars films. It passed the hurdle of not relying on classic characters and situations to tell a compelling story. And it liberally and skillfully took elements from other films and TV shows without overdoing it or aping the same story beats and characters. This is why Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the most pivotal Star Wars film for now.

José Soto

Rogue One Is An Exciting Addition To The Star Wars Saga

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is the newest film for the epic space saga from Lucasfilm and is a great action movie as well.  It tells the story of how the Rebel Alliance was able to procure the plans for the Empire’s super weapon the Death Star. It involves a young woman named Jyn Erso (played by Felicity Jones) who is recruited by the rebels to find her long lost father, who is an imperial scientist and in charge of making the weapon. She is accompanied by Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), a rebel spy and his cranky, but useful, droid K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). Their journey across several new worlds tells an exciting tale that has a feeling of dread as the Death Star is shown reigning death upon worlds in anticipation of its later appearance in the original Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
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Godzilla director Gareth Edwards does a very good job portraying the action, both on the ground and in space, with a gritty feeling that is somewhat different from previous films in the series. The intense firefights between rebel soldiers and storm troopers really give the impression of a huge struggle between bitter foes in a long war for survival. The action in space is just as impressive with camera views from the top of X-Wing fighters that give the feeling of actually being up there in the middle of all that chaos.
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Another very interesting aspect is the use of characters from the original film that make an appearance. First and foremost is Grand Moff Tarkin played by Peter Cushing. Yes, Peter Cushing, who died in 1994. He was digitally recreated for this film and has many scenes in the movie. It’s not just a brief cameo and his presence is something to behold. Other classic characters who appear include a brief appearance by Princess Leia and, of course, the iconic villain Darth Vader. His return is also brief, but very powerful, especially towards the end when he is seen in action and he is brutal and terrifying. It was also nice to see Jimmy Smits again as Bail Organa and does link the prequel era to the original set of films.
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One issue with the movie is that since there were many new and different characters to introduce, some of their characterizations were thin. As a result, when our heroes began to make their inevitable sacrifices for freedom, there wasn’t as much of a feeling for them as there would be if we got to know them a little bit better. This was somewhat inevitable though, since the story does have to revolve around Jyn and both her search for her father, as well as redemption for him. Nevertheless, audiences are still able to appreciate what the rebels lost and see how costly the battle to gain the Death Star plans was for the Alliance. We also see a new Imperial villain, Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) who is the head of weapons research for the Death Star. His rivalry with Tarkin over control of the battle station and brutal tactics against rebel worlds is effective at showing the sinister side of the Empire, as well as the its repressive nature for both its subjects and those serving in its ranks.
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The climatic battle at the end of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is set on the planet Scarif. It is a real highlight and the battle is destructive and almost apocalyptic end goes to show what is really at stake for the galaxy. The final scenes tie directly into the beginning of Episode IV and it makes this film the perfect companion piece to the 1977 classic. Overall, I enjoyed this new foray into the Star Wars universe and see it as a ground level view of the whole conflict between the Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire. I would really like to see another Star Wars film by Gareth Edwards, perhaps set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and hope that other directors are inspired by his vision of this universe created by George Lucas.

 C.S. Link

Second Trailer For Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Shows Promise

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Finally got around to watching the new trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and let me say I was quite impressed!

Backing up here, I have to admit I wasn’t enthusiastic about the film when I heard about it. OK, a spinoff Star Wars film, sounds good on paper but it reeked of Disney milking the Star Wars cash cow. Not that I blame them they spent a few billion to get the property so they want their money’s worth. But after seeing Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens I wasn’t thrilled about new Star Wars films.

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The only thing going for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was that it was a prequel that didn’t have to do with the main characters. No Skywalkers, no cute droids or Jedi. Then again Gareth Edwards is directing this, the guy who made a Godzilla movie dull. OK that last taunt there is an exaggeration, but Godzilla was kind of disappointing and went downhill after Bryan Cranston’s character was killed off.

Getting back to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, I was neutral about the first spinoff film. Not even the teaser did anything to change my mind. Then I saw the new trailer today, and boy have my eyes been opened.

What is so great about this trailer is that it emphasizes the war aspect of Star Wars. It looks gritty and grounded while taking place in the beloved Star Wars universe. The characters look badass, especially the older blind man who seems to be Force adept. And they seem interesting, one of them, Saw Gerrera (Forest Whitaker), is a cool Easter egg for fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars since it proves once and for all that the animated series is canon. Now if only that grand admiral shown had blue skin. LOL But he still looks like someone not to mess with.

JynnWhat else? The ships, the fighting, the desperation, it feels so great watching all the classic ships and hardware being used in Star Wars again, plus some new stuff (hear that Force Awakens? It’s OK to use different hardware and ships) that fits well in this universe. But one thing that stands out is that for the first time since the original Star Wars, we witness the harsh, despotic nature of the Galactic Empire. The Empire looks imposing, threatening, not at all like the cardboard cut outs who can’t shoot straight. As far as this film is concerned, the Galactic Empire is at its height of power and dominion. Also, apart from the Darth Vader teaser at the end, this trailer shows that it is a true spinoff that does not rely on the usual characters or recycles stories.

So, now I’m hyped up for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which is terrific because so many films this year have been disappointing. If this film delivers, hopefully the other Star Wars spinoffs will be of the same caliber.

T. Rod Jones