Star Wars update: Kathleen Kennedy extends her control of the franchise, Solo is worth seeing

I was going to write about the feds investigation of admissions practices at Yale but it’s Friday afternoon and it’s already been a long week so let’s talk about Star Wars instead. I’m doing this out of pure self-indulgence but there is some actual news on this front today. Kathleen Kennedy, the person who has been running the franchise for the past several years, extended her deal with Disney though 2021. From Variety:

The veteran producer and chief of the Disney content giant behind “Star Wars” has renewed her deal through 2021, an individual familiar with the negotiations told Variety, following a tumultuous year for the label under her control…

Kennedy’s stamp has been on every project post-Disney, including the behemoth “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Gareth Edwards’ “Rogue One,” and Rian Johnson’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

A spinoff development slate, which included a possible standalone for “Star Wars” character Boba Fett, has been flushed. Her attention will now be directed to a new core trilogy beginning with “Star Wars: Episode IX” directed by J.J. Abrams.

Okay, let’s talk reality here on several fronts. First, there was no way Kathleen Kennedy was in danger of losing her job. There were certainly some rumors circulating among fans that this might be the case because Solo was a flop. That film reportedly cost at least $250 million, partly because of major reshoots after the original directors were fired, and it made less than $400 million worldwide. That sounds okay until you remember that the theaters kept about half of that. Solo lost money at the box office, though video sales will help.

But if Solo was a flop, The Last Jedi was a massive success in terms of box office. It made $600 million domestically and another $700 million around the globe for a whopping total of $1.3 billion dollars. That’s not as good as The Force Awakens which made $2 billion, but it’s nothing to sneeze at. You don’t get fired when your two primary efforts make over $3 billion at the box office.

So that’s one level of looking at this. As a business decision, keeping Kennedy around makes sense. With that said, episodes 7 and 8 were both awful. I mean, they were horrible failures in almost every way. I thought I couldn’t be more disappointed in Star Wars after the prequels but I was wrong. These films have bad scripts full of plot holes and characters that are only a step above Jar-Jar Binks in terms of quality. It really doesn’t help that Rey, the replacement for Luke, can do everything without so much as a lesson from Yoda. It also doesn’t help that Luke Skywalker has become a monk with a bad attitude whose lack of engagement takes up the better part of both films.

Rather than argue this point, I’m just going to refer to an earlier post here and put Mr. Plinkett’s (Red Letter Media’s) review of The Last Jedi below. If you haven’t seen that yet, you must watch it.

Because I really disliked these films, including some of the ham-handed feminist politics, I didn’t even go to see Solo when it came out. I guess I wasn’t alone in that. This week I finally rented it and I was genuinely surprised. Solo is the first Star Wars movie since Jedi that feels like a Star Wars movie. It’s not perfect, but it is fun. Most of the plot points seem motivated by a sense of adventure and a genuine attempt to show the audience a good time at the theater rather than some dull political message about women’s empowerment.

Okay, there is one subplot in Solo that sort of sucks. Minor spoilers ahead. This film involves Han Solo meeting Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian. Lando is a cape-wearing card shark but, strangely, he’s not a ladies man. Now if you remember him from Empire, he was a charming rogue, not unlike Solo himself and very clearly a bit of a lady-killer. But I guess that’s not allowed anymore, too offensive to the woke feminist crowd, so in this film Lando’s love interest is, wait for it…a robot. Again, I’m sure the filmmakers felt they had no choice if they wanted to avoid protests, but it’s a real clunker as far as the mythology goes.

That said, a lot of the rest of the movie is pretty enjoyable fare and it features one moment near the end which serves as a kind of rebuke to George Lucas that fans should appreciate.

Solo isn’t a great film but it’s worth seeing and I really haven’t felt that way about a Star Wars movie since 1983. And with that, here’s Mr. Plinkett: