Colin Vanden Berg
Associate Arts & Culture Editor
On December 2016, Disney/Lucasfilm released “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” officially launching their venture into the shared universe phenomenon pioneered by Marvel Studios. The first official Star Wars film separated from the story and characters of the three trilogies, “Rogue One” suffered major production setbacks, due to the director and studio’s conflicting visions. “Rogue One” nevertheless managed to please both critics and audiences. On Monday night, Disney released the first full trailer for their next stand-alone film — “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” which stars Alden Ehrenreich (“Hail Caesar!”) as Han Solo, years before meeting Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars: A New Hope.”
The studio’s second crack at companion film also sparked creative differences, this time, severe enough to result in a complete change in directors. According to Collider, Lucasfilm replaced Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“The Lego Movie,” “21 Jump Street”), with Ron Howard (“Apollo 13, “A Beautiful Mind”) mere weeks before the scheduled end of principle photography. Sources vary on exactly why Lucasfilm parted ways with the original directors, but according to Collider, Howard significantly restructured the film after joining the production. At least some of what Lord and Miller shot apparently remains, but the version seen in the latest trailer belongs mostly to Howard.
The trailer opens with shots of Ehrenreich’s Solo mostly reacting to his surroundings, over narration from the original character Qui’Ra (Emelia Clarke), who talks to Solo in a bar. The trailer then cover’s the film’s story, as other new character Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrrelson) recruits Han for a job, organized by a “big shot gangster.” Said Gangster is probably Jabba The Hutt, who Han owed money to in the beginning of “A New Hope.” The trailer continues with immersive shots of space ports and other locations establishing the film’s atmosphere in great detail. The trailer also shows impressive visual effects shots from the various vehicles present in the film, most notably the iconic Millennium Falcon, the inclusion of which heralds the arrival of Han’s friend Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), as well as /Han’s Wookie companion Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), both of whom are fan-favorites from the original trilogy.
Glover steals the show with his great one-liners and pitch perfect channeling of the swagger and charisma displayed by Billy Dee Williams in the “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.” It’s also nice to have a clearer sense of Harrelson and Clarke’s role in the story than detailed in previous trailers and press releases. Ehrenreich looks like an actor torn between two sets of directors, but demonstrates a lot of Han Solo’s established characteristics without doing a Harrison Ford impression. Scenes when he interacts with Chewbacca and Lando best demonstrate his ability to embody the role of the famed smuggler.
Overall, the trailer features enough world-building and great character work to show worried Star Wars fans that “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is back on the right track. Here’s hoping the film delivers on this trailer’s promise when it debuts on May 25.