Solo: A Star Wars Story

2018, Uncategorized

Dir. Ron Howard

Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Joonas Suotamo, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Paul Bettany, and Jon Favreau

Solo: A Star Wars Story comes out to muted expectations, which is odd when you consider it’s a Star Wars movie. They’ve been a Christmas event movie since The Force Awakens. I’d drive an hour to see them every year on an IMAX screen, making a day of it with dinner at a restaurant afterwards. For Solo, I went to the local multiplex after work. It may have been rumours of the troubled production, or the fact that it’s not been long since The Last Jedi, but this one just didn’t feel as special going in. Star Wars has lost some of its shine. Which is a shame because Solo is a whole heap of fun.

Solo follows Alden Ehrenreich’s young Han Solo, before we knew him as the smuggling scoundrel in the first Star Wars movie. He starts off as a street rat, doing cons for a small crime ring. He finally finds a way out, but leaves behind the woman he loves. He vows to return to rescue her. That journey takes him from being a troop for the empire to falling into organised crime when he meets Woody Harelson’s Beckett. Along the way we meet familiar faces from the Star Wars universe, such as Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian.

I probably had the lowest expectations I’ve ever had for a Star Wars movie going into Solo. The rumours of on-set dysfunction, with Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller being fired, and Ron Howard being bought into replace them near the end of initial production. Howard gets the directing credit here, and whilst it’s rumoured that they re-shot 70% of the movie, it’s almost impossible to tell which bits were directed by Lord and Miller. It’s a film that, against the odds, works. I found it a fun, action packed adventure movie. Removed from everything that surrounds it, it’s just a pure, good time at the movie. Which is what you want from Star Wars, right?

Howard does well at creating a tone that blends different genres. Mixing elements of Westerns, heist movies, and film noir together to create an engaging look at the underbelly of the Star Wars universe. It also gives us our best look, away from the animated shows, of how the Empire operates in the galaxy. The action is all well done, but it’s the smaller moments that Howard excels at. Han’s first meeting with Chewie is tense, funny, and a little scary. It’s incredibly well directed. Howard was seen as a safe pair of hands when he came aboard, but I think that does him a disservice. He’s a director who knows how to make a film, and story work. He knows how to hit all the right beats, at the right time, in the right way. It’s a skill that’s often overlooked, but is essential in creating a satisfying time at the movies.

The other point of conversation going in was the casting. Could anybody replace Harrison Ford as Han Solo. Alden Ehrenreich bares slight resemblance to Ford, and sounds nothing like him. It doesn’t matter. He smashes this performance. In a smart move by him and the writers, this isn’t the Han Solo from Star Wars. This is the story of how he becomes that Han Solo. There are fan service moments like seeing him get his gun, and finding out, maybe a little too on the nose, how he got his name, but these moments are few and far between, they aren’t really the point of the movie. Ehrenreich plays Solo with the same swagger and cockiness as Ford, but undercuts it with an unsureness. He has the charm, but lacks the cynicism of Ford. He’s naive, and enthusiastic. The fun is in finding out what made him the pessimist. The iconic Star Wars line “I have a bad feeling about this” is turned on its head when Han says “I have a good feeling about this” and that is the key to this Han Solo.

The rest of the cast all do fantastic work too. Woody Harrelson is great. Donald Glover is terrific, and Emilia Clarke shines in a role reminiscent of 40s/50s femme fatales. Paul Bettany’s villain was the only role which felt like it was under-written. Bettany does his best to imbue him with a manic menace, but the villain here is the biggest disappointment. It stems from the biggest problem with the film, and that’s the fact that the stakes never feel high enough. We know how it’s going to end. We know what happens next. The momentum of the film carries it swiftly to the finale, but it’s a subdued, anti-climax to what has come before. The film comes to a halt right when it should be going into hyperspace. It does have a last act reveal, but rather than being a shocking revelation, it felt like fan pandering. Similar to Rouge One, it’s as if the studio are too scared to branch out into the unknown, and are keeping their anthology movies as close to the main saga as possible.

Solo is just a great time at the cinema. A refreshing side adventure to the main Star Wars story, which is filled with fun action, iconic characters, and a fantastic cast. It’s a space craft that has been deftly steered away from the asteroid field by Howard, and is thrown into hyper speed by Alden Ehrenreich’s performance. It stumbles at the finish line, but what has come before is more than worth the trip.

7/10

 

The Most Anticipated Movies Of 2018 – Part One

2017, Uncategorized

2017 is drawing to an end, and so it’s the perfect time to look ahead at 2018, and see what movies will be filling our theatres next year. This article will be looking ahead at the most anticipated movies of next year. First of all, this blog is based in England, and whilst there are some movies coming out next year which I’m really looking forward to, they have already been released in the US. These films, such as Three Billboarda Outside Ebbing, Missouri, or Lady Bird, have been omitted from this list. They have already been received incredibly well, and this list is more about films where the anticipation is high, but we don’t know how they will turn out. This list might also be slightly heavy on the big blockbusters. Anticipation is a subjective thing, and it’s hard to predict how smaller, independent films will do. Get Out was one of my favourite films of 2017, but if you’d asked me in 2016 what I was looking forward to seeing, it wouldn’t have made my list. There are surprises every year, and I’m not trying to predict them.

Any way, 2018, there’s a lot of good stuff to look forward to. We have Marvel movies, Star Wars Movies, video game adaptations, auteur returns, and some original properties, all vying for the blockbuster crown. Here are our most anticipated movies of 2018…

 

IMG_0345

Black Panther

The first Marvel movie out this year, and the first Marvel movie in our list. Black Panther sees Chadwick Bosman reprise his role as King T’Chala, last seen in Captain America: Civil War. With Creed writer/director Ryan Coogler behind the camera, the trailer for this movie looks fantastic. It also serves as a lead in for Avengers: Infinity War, but more of that later.

Anticipation level: 9/10

 

IMG_0346

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Jurassic World was a huge hit. Whether you liked it it or not, there’s no denying it was a box office phenomenon. Whilst many felt it was the perfect mix of new and old, some felt it cleaved to close to the original, but with the world now reastbalished, Fallen Kingdom can now venture into uncharted territory. Yes, the trailer was awful, but apparently it only contained footage from the first act. So there are still plenty of surprises left in store.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

 

838A6041.dng

Tomb Raider

Lara Croft Tomb Raider looks the perfect video game for a big screen adaptation, but, as we all know, it’s not that simple. Whilst some enjoyed Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of the titular heroine, those films were largely awful. Can Alicia Vikander break the video game to film curse? The trailer looks promising, and focusing on the grittier origin story of the most recent games seems to be a smart move. We’ve got our fingers crossed.

Anticipation Level: 6/10

 

IMG_0348

Isle Of Dogs

The first original property on this list. Isle Of Dogs is the new stop motion animation from indie auteur Wes Anderson. The story is set in Japan, and follows the tale of a boy as he goes in search of his new dog. The trailer showcases all of the style and charm that we are used to from Anderson, along with a fantastic voice cast. It’s also his first stop motion since Fantastic Mr Fox, which was great. So we can expect this to be another instant classic.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

 

IMG_0344

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Any other Star Wars movie would instantly be a must see, but Solo comes with baggage. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired off the project only to be replaced by veteran film maker Ron Howard. Tracing the origin of charming rogue Han Solo, this could turn out to be great. We just wish we could see the Lord and Miller version, as we love their left field vision. We’re excited for this, but apprehensive too.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

 

IMG_0349

Aquaman

The next movie up on DC’s slate is Aquaman. It’s the first movie to be released after Justic League, and a reshuffle behind the scenes at Warner Bros. but that shouldn’t effect it much as it’s too late to change much now. It’s still got a lot going for it. James Wan is in the directors chair after showing he can do big budget with Fast and Furious 7, Jason Mamoa’s take on the character has been well received, and it’s stand alone, with the makers even saying that the under water dynamics which didn’t work in Justice League will be different in this one. Here’s hoping for the next Wonder Woman.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

 

IMG_0350

Mute

Set 40 years from now, and about a mute bartender in Berlin going up against gangsters to find his missing partner. Mute could be the sleeper hit of 2018. It’s Duncan Jones’ return to more personal film making after the disappointment of Warcraft. Starring Alexander SkarsgĂ„rd and Paul Rudd, it’s an idea which Jones has been teasing since Moon came out. We can’t wait.

Anticipation Levels: 8/10

 

IMG_0351

Ready Player One

Who isn’t excited to see a new Steven Spielberg movie. We can’t wait. Adapted from Ernest Cline novel, the film see’s a future where people escape the day to day by entering the Oasis. A virtual reality world. The creator of this world dies, but leaves behind an Easter egg which will grant the finder access to his fortune, and control of the Oasis. Mixing together a whole bunch of pop culture, including Freddy Krueger and a DeLorean, it’ll be great to see Spielberg play around with the pop culture he helped to create.

Anticipation Level: 8/10

 

IMG_0352

The New Mutants

Set within the same universe as X-Men, and directed by The Fault In Our Stars’ Josh Boone, The New Mutants follows the Fox playbook of experimenting with their properties, as seen with Logan and Deadpool. The film follow a group of teenagers struggling to come to terms with their mutant powers. So far, so generic, but The New Mutants is positioned as a straight up horror movie. The trailer teases the scares, but most exciting is how little we do know about it.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

 

Incredibles 2

Incredibles 2

Following on from where they left us in 2004, 2018 sees the return of our favourite super hero family. Not much is known about the plot, but the teaser trailer shows that Pixar haven’t lost their touch when it comes to physical comedy. Pixar sequels have been hit and miss, but their reluctance to bring out a sequel to Incredibles makes me think they must have had a prettt good story to bring them back.

Anticipation Level: 8/10

 

So that concludes Part One of our Most Anticipated Movies Of 2018, tell us what you think in the comments below and keep your eyes peeled for Part Two.