In the trailer for Solo, Chewbacca dangles for dear life from a high speed train barreling through a snowy landscape. “Chewie!” the young Han shouts, as the Wookiee’s head comes within spitting distance of a rocky mountainside, moments before everything goes black.
For those with even a passing familiarity with the Star Wars universe, it’s about as low stakes as cliffhangers get. Chewbacca will be fine. He’s made it to 190, and by all accounts, he survives well into the sequel trilogy, several cinematic decades later. It’s a bit silly, as far as these things go, but it also just might be the perfect setup for the film.
Solo is, by its very nature, low stakes. The fate of the galaxy is never at play, nor are the destinies of any of its familiar faces. In many ways, it’s a slight film, so far as the grandiosity of epic space operas are concerned, and for the most part, its filmmakers seem perfectly content to operate within those parameters.
Fans of the franchise were understandably skeptical in the lead up to release. It never bodes particularly well when a film’s directors are fired so late in the game. And while we may never get a straight answer as to why Chris Miller and Phil Lord were unceremoniously dumped by Disney toward the end of filming, rest assured that the unamicable parting of ways between the two sides is never peeks through the film’s shiny veneer.
If you should ever find yourself in charge of a major film studio, looking to deliver the latest entry in the world’s premier film franchise on time and in one piece, you can do a heck of a lot worse than Ron Howard. The man behind Apollo 13 and those Dan Brown movies is Hollywood’s leading auteur when it comes to delivering a film right down the middle of the road.