Alden Ehrenreich set as Han Solo: How 'Star Wars' can be better at prequels

Rumors have been confirmed: Alden Ehrenreich will take on the role of a young Han Solo for a prequel film. But will the writers remember to keep it fun?

Rich Fury/Invision/AP
Alden Ehrenreich poses for a portrait in Los Angeles in 2016.

Actor Alden Ehrenreich has officially been confirmed to take on the role of “Star Wars” smuggler Han Solo as the massively successful franchise returns to the prequel film form. 

It was previously reported that Mr. Ehrenreich, who appeared in such films as the Coen brothers movie “Hail, Caesar!,” would portray a young version of the character first played by Harrison Ford. Ehrenreich participated as part of a panel at the Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 event. 

The movie about Han Solo, which will tell the story of the smuggler’s life before moviegoers met him in the 1977 original “Star Wars” film, is being directed by Christopher Miller and Phil Lord of “The Lego Movie” and written by “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” writer Lawrence Kasdan and his son, Jon Kasdan. 

The film will be the first look back to before the original 1970s and '80s "Star Wars" movies since the mostly critically panned prequel trilogy, which consisted of 1999’s “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace,” 2002’s “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones,” and the 2005 film “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.” 

These films told the story of how villain Darth Vader became the antagonist known to movie fans.

Since the prequel trilogy was released, those behind “Star Wars” instead set their planned movies in the future, with the 2015 movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” set after all existing “Star Wars” movies, or around the time of the original movies. The planned movie “Star Wars: Rogue One” is set close to the time of the original 1977 “Star Wars” film. 

So as the creative minds behind “Star Wars” return to the past, what can they learn from the criticism of the 2000s prequel films? 

Monitor film critic David Sterritt wrote at the time of the release of “Phantom Menace” that those behind the films cannot forgo good writing for an emphasis on effects. 

“The computer-driven effects are impressive, but the adventure is hampered by a flat screenplay,” Mr. Sterritt wrote. 

In writing the screenplay, those doing so must also avoid confusing and too-numerous plotlines, writes Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle in a review of “Attack of the Clones.”

“Halfway in, the picture diverges into two paths – the Anakin-Amidala story and the clone story – but it's too sluggish to sustain both,” Mr. LaSalle writes. “The movie also introduces Count Dooku (Christopher Lee), a Jedi gone bad, but it'll take a ‘Star Wars’ expert to figure out why exactly he's a villain. It's just more plot and more confusion.” 

And Dana Stevens of The New York Times wrote that those behind the movies need to remember to retain a sense of fun. 

In the '70s and '80s movies, “the big, archetypal themes were there and would emerge into sharper relief through the next two films, but they were leavened by a cheeky sense of fun,” Ms. Stevens wrote. But in "Attack of the Clones,"  “Mr. Lucas seems to have lost his boyish glee.”

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