When it was revealed in 2012 that Disney had bought Star Wars and were planning on making a new trilogy, the thought that went through my head, as a life-long fanboy, was ‘do we really need this?’
Then all the news and previews of The Force Awakens looked great. Shortly after, Disney started talking about the anthology films and again I thought ‘is this a good idea?’ Once again they proved my concerns to be needless when the trailer for Rogue One dropped (or as thousands of people called it- ‘Rouge One’).
Their next announcement that worried me was their intentions to release a new Star Wars movie every year for the foreseeable future. And did they prove me wrong again? No. Sorry Disney you managed to make people bored with Star Wars. Kind of. I mean I can’t see people not going to the cinema to watch one of the movies. I mean… it’s Star Wars. But let’s come back to that.
The ideas for Rogue One and Solo came from stories pitched for a live-action series developed in the mid-2000’s called Star Wars: Underworld. It was supposed to be a dark and gritty anthology series but the project eventually fell through. However, before it was cancelled, 50 scripts were produced out of over 100 planned episodes. All of this still exists in the LucasFilm archive and once Disney bought the franchise, they started going through all the material. Thus the Anthology films were born.
Rogue One was meant to be a Star Wars film; emphasis on the ‘wars’. Gareth Edwards, the director, used classic war films as the inspiration of the film and the basis for the tone and it has since become one of the best Star Wars films out of all 10 that have been released (as I write this it’s still a week until Rise of Skywalker). It’s compelling and dark and epic. The good guys are basically terrorists and assassins. The bad guys are bad but they’re also not.
The battle scenes are barely different to a WWII film. And the characters are such a great collection that it makes me sad that we only got one film out of them. I have nothing against Finn and Poe and Rey but I honestly think I’d go with the Rogue One crew if I got to choose. There is only so much development you can give them given they all die but dammit if I don’t fall in love with them every time.
I even felt sorry for Krennic who has the what is probably the worst week at work ever (ending with him getting blown up by the weapon he helped create). I could bleat on about how great this movie is for ages.
Vader’s terrifying appearance at the end, how many little details that make it tie in seamlessly with A New Hope, but I think something my sister said means more. She has seen all the films, mainly because my brother and I have watched them millions of times, but when we came out of the cinema she said “I see why you like Star Wars now.”
Solo on the other hand was a strange one. I wasn’t sure what I thought of it when it came out but now I love it. A lot of people were unsure about it as well and I think a reason to Solo getting such a lukewarm reception was the fact that it came out barely 5 months after The Last Jedi. I think people just weren’t as excited for it.
This is what I was talking about earlier. It’s called ‘franchise fatigue’, which occurs when people are over-saturated with one thing. I’m waiting for it to happen with Marvel, though so far interest doesn’t seem to be waning.
There was also Disney, 6 weeks into production, replacing the original directors with Ron Howard, and getting an acting coach for Alden Ehrenreich. Getting an acting coach is normal in Hollywood but not that far into a shoot.
Beyond that though, I really enjoy this one. I loved seeing the underbelly of the Galaxy. The scoundrels, the traitors, the thieves, the murderers. Everybody in this film has an angle and everyone is trying to get something. In fact, out of all of them, Han was probably the most innocent out of the bunch (save, perhaps, Chewie). I liked the crew of the Millennium Falcon, which also makes me sad given that they all go their separate ways afterwards and I doubt they’ll get back together.
Where Rogue One is heavy and serious, Solo is fun and irreverent. I wasn’t sure what I thought of Ehrenreich when I first saw him but now I completely buy him as a young Han. Donald Glover was perfect for young Lando as well. While neither of them are completely the characters as we know them from the originals, they were never going to be. In fairness, the characters are about 10 years younger so I think there should be some leeway. Something I didn’t like was Lando’s droid, L3-37. An obnoxious social-justice droid? Whose bright idea what that? I find her almost as bad as Jar Jar Binks at times.
Since Solo underperformed at the box office, it’s unknown whether there will be any more anthology films. They have been put on hiatus, not cancelled, though for how long is anyone’s guess as Disney have said they are going to be giving the series a break for a while after Episode IX.
There were rumours of a Boba Fett film, an Obi Wan film, and one set around the Cantina in Mos Eisley (dunno how that would have worked but at least there would have been a slew of strange characters). The Obi Wan film seems to have been turned into a series as Disney have announced a series centered around Kenobi during his years in exile on Tatooine. Solo was supposed to be a trilogy but it’s uncertain whether that will be happening now either, though there have been talks about certain details about Solo 2. Rogue One at least is getting a series which will be about Cassian Andor.
I liked the Anthology films. I think Disney did a great job on them and I would like to see more. They have great stories, memorable characters, amazing action, and above all, they’re Star Wars. But I agree with Disney’s decision to give the films a rest for the moment. Let’s not ruin a good thing.
– Tim Baker