Is Ron Howard a Good Choice for the Han Solo Film?

Drew Dietsch
Movies Star Wars
Movies Star Wars

Ron Howard is officially stepping in to direct the Han Solo anthology film. There seems to be a lot going wrong with the Star Wars Anthology films, and this is a hiring that seems designated to put fans at ease. Ron Howard is a proven quantity and a notable director. But, is he the right choice for this film? What does his hiring say about the Han Solo film? Should fans actually be worried?

Ron Howard Is a Safe Choice

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Howard directed Willow, a Lucasfilm production

We have to acknowledge that Ron Howard is an accomplished filmmaker. Between CocoonApollo 13, and A Beautiful Mind, he’s garnered plenty of critical and audience acclaim. Not to mention his forays into blockbuster fare like How the Grinch Stole ChristmasThe DaVinci Code, and Willow (a George Lucas production by the way). To say he’s a bad director is not fair.

However, Howard is also a director without a distinct style. Studios love creators like him because he’s malleable. It’s much easier to bend creators like him to a particular studio vision. There is something very vanilla about Ron Howard. That doesn’t give a lot hope for fans who want to see the Star Wars Anthology films be something more distinct and different. Actually, it almost guarantees that the Han Solo film will be as palatable as it could be. Whether that’s good or bad depends on what you want to see out of the film.

What’s really worrisome is when you look at Ron Howard’s last few movies…

Ron Howard Has Been In a Slump

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Inferno, Howard's last film, has a 19% on Rotten Tomatoes

Howard’s last debatably great film was the incredibly small scale Frost/Nixon. That was nearly ten years ago. Since then, Howard has been putting out mostly mediocre (and few outright bad) pictures. Most troubling are his recent big action films. Angels & Demons and Inferno are widely disliked by both fans and casual viewers, and In the Heart of the Sea has already begun to fade into obscurity.

To be fair, that doesn’t mean Howard is incapable of making a good blockbuster. But, it is unnerving to think that his recent output points to the possibility of delivering something very disappointing with the Han Solo film.

There’s also the most important question to ask…

Is Ron Howard the Right Fit?

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Chris Miller and Phil Lord were working on the film when they were fired with only weeks left in the production schedule

The Han Solo film has already been in production for five months, and it’s likely that a very clear tone and style had been established by previous directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord. As I said before, Howard is certainly able to adapt to what the studio wants. But, is that going to jive with the movie in progress? How much of it is going to have to be completely reworked? And is the script something that Ron Howard is best suited towards doing?

He definitely has comedic chops. His involvement in Arrested Development more than demonstrates that. He’s well-trained when it comes to dealing with a powerhouse ensemble of actors. When it comes to those criteria, he seems like the right man for the job.

The big test is going to come with how he handles the action and fantastical elements of the Star Wars universe. He’s stayed away from strong genre outings for nearly two decades. Those kinds of films require some serious precision to get right. But, until we know exactly what the Han Solo film entails, we have to accept that we’re in the dark and no amount of guessing will be as telling as the film itself.

Hope for the Best

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I wish Ron Howard well. Right now, his position might be the most unenviable in the movie business. He’s coming into the middle of a production and that is extremely rare on big pictures like this. He’ll have a plethora of challenges to face and it would benefit everyone – the audience included – if he conquers those challenges. But is he up for the task? We’ll find out when the Han Solo film (maybe) hits theaters on May 25, 2018.

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