Solo: A Star Wars Story, A review with the spoilers that you deserve! By Case Wright


 

GO SEE THIS MOVIE! I don’t remember when Star Wars came out, but I do remember when Empire did and I loved it.  Yes, there were some deeper themes to these movies, but at their heart they were fun like a beach read.  We, the fans, have made these films into something they never were serious think pieces.  I just saw a youtube video where a guy was trying to describe the “correct” routes Han would have to take through the Kessel Run. Give it a rest!

This movie did what the last 6 have failed to do: Entertain.  Rogue One was a melancholy piece of trash about sending an email on a vhs tape.  BORING.  The rest are mind-numbingly painful experiences that are determined to take themselves so seriously that I have had more fun reviewing license agreements for my latest Turbo Tax software.  I really don’t care about Rey or the Ugly Gloomy Kid Kylo Ren who failed to get any of Han’s good looks.  If I were Han, I would have called up Maury Povich about that kid.

This movie did what it was supposed to do first: entertain.  It’s like the other movies never bothered to put that basic principle into the writers’ room.  Ron Howard really did a great job with the film and Alden Ehrenreich really succeeded in capturing a pre-cynical, but still cocky Han.  It could be that I also liked this story because Han reminds me the most of myself: edgy, cocky, wise-cracking, iconoclast, with devastating good looks.

The story even opens uniquely without any moody sad bullshit. Instead, it opens with some text, the title card, and Han driving away fast and furious, and a bit bloodied.  There’s no everyone’s perfect and noble blah blah blah.  Within 30 minutes, you are transported to a high-stakes futuristic train robbery that if it had a couple tumbleweeds and player piano, it would have been a great Western.

Han begins his quest because he loses his love Emilia Clarke.  Han between you and me: you gotta lock that down.  Other than Emilia, everyone else in the universe is gross and scaly even pretty people make ugly kids (see above) there must be radiation in this galaxy far far away or some such shit.  Han figures that if he does enough smuggling and heists he’ll get enough cash, to buy a ship and get Emilia Clarke out of the hellhole from whence she came. It doesn’t quite work out the way he plans, but you see a great character arc as Han become more cynical and savvy as the rogue we will eventually love.

As he is going on his big heist, we watch his friendship develop with Chewy, Lando, and most of all the Millenium Falcon which comes across as a character herself.  Most of the critics who have done middling reviews seem to focus on the box office, but unless you’re a shareholder of Newscorp or an accountant at 20th Century fox, why do you care?!  Another bizarre critique is that it’s too fun or not melancholy enough as Rogue One.  Okay, I have solution for the people who don’t think this amazingly well-done feature isn’t sad enough for them:  Go see this film, then shortly thereafter do a search for political twitter and then click show threads or just look up one of your hollywood heroes and count the indictments.

 

 

Film Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story (dir. by Ron Howard)


solo-poster-1I feel like the Grinch, standing high on his mountain and looking down at all the Who’s in Whoville. Look at them, enjoying Solo – A Star Wars Story. Look at them, geeking over Chewie, the Millenium Falcon and the Kessel Run. Look at them smile at Lando Calrissian, still cool after these years. From where I stood, I had fun, but not nearly as much as they all did. Did we all watch the same film?

I think I’m a little jealous for not feeling that, and somewhat sad.

Granted, I didn’t outright despise Solo. I adore heist films like Thief and Heat. Perhaps it’s because the cast is fun to watch on-screen. You have the seedy side of the universe, and frankly, I’ve love to see more of it in future installments. This was closer to what I originally hoped to see with the Prequels, or even The Force Awakens. Not every Star Wars tale has to be an Empire vs. Rebellion / Jedi vs. Sith one (though lightsaber battles are always appreciated).

On the other hand, I had the same experience here that I did with Rogue One. The film almost lost me until it started to induce some nostalgia. With the exception of a few key scenes, I had a tough time feeling anything for most of this film. Boredom slapped me in the face for a little while here. Maybe I’ve just reached the age where I can put Star Wars on the shelf and maybe move on from it altogether. Judging by the number of people who chose to check their cell phones rather than watch the movie, I don’t think I’m alone there.

I initially bought a ticket for the 10:15pm Thursday IMAX showing, and then realized I wanted to come home early. I purchased a 7pm 3D showing, which is where this review is coming from. I didn’t feel the need to stay for the IMAX. Maybe that’s the best way to sum it up.

The movie was originally helmed by The Lego Movie’s Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, but due to creative differences, they were taken off the project and replaced by Ron Howard. Howard’s familar with Lucasfilm, having worked on Willow back in the late 1980’s. The result of this is that you have a very safe film. Howard dots the I’s, crosses the t’s and make the movie everything the writing duo of Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan need. Since we know where Han & Chewie are going to end up, it’s just a matter of getting from Point A to Point B, without any real worries about the characters. I’m somewhat curious of what we could have had if Lord/Miller stayed on.

2121 Jump Street, perhaps?

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Emilia Clarke’s Qi’Ra, from Solo: A Star Wars Story.

While we’re on the topic of the writing, the Kasdans manage to drop a few bells and whistles that many fans will enjoy. There’s a line that Emilia Clarke’s Qi’Ra utters about her abilities that left me smiling and slowly nodding like a person who just received a toast. Lucasfilm is learning from The Last Jedi’s mistakes, that much is certain. It’s a tight script that rarely goes off tangent.

The movie finds a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich, Beautiful Creatures, Hail Casear) looking to acquire some Hyperfuel, a power source that most smugglers pay a handsome price for. He dreams of becoming a pilot, someday having his own ship so that he can be reunited with an old flame/partner. This leads him to eventually join up with a heist crew and a task that needs to be fulfilled. I won’t give away any more, but it’s a great thing to see all of the pieces fall into place.

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Han and Chewie, not caring about the odds.

The supporting cast in Solo is wonderful. That was something that felt right. Between Donald Glover’s scene stealing Lando Calrissian (which eerily sounds like Billy Dee Williams sometimes), Paul Bettany’s Dryden Vos, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s L3-37 , everyone in Solo gives a good performance. Aldenreich, I’m not sure of. I didn’t expect him to be Harrison Ford, but he seemed a little generic, for want of a better word. You could have plucked him out, dropped in someone else and it might be the same. At least, that’s how I felt. Still, he doesn’t give a bad performance. Han felt like the supporting character in his own film, the cast is that good.

From an effects standpoint, there are a number of creatures and various new ship tech to behold. It all looks and feels great (especially the Millennium Falcon flight sequences), though I should point out that the 3D presentation isn’t really necessarily. In fact, the first 20 minutes of the film are so dimly lit that the sunglass effect of 3D shades feels like you’re just watching silhouettes on-screen. Howard does a good Job of setting up scenes and keeping everything flowing. It’s a pretty tight production, overall and you’ll be suprised at how fast the film seems to move.

John Powell (X-Men: The Last Stand, The Bourne Trilogy, How to Train Your Dragon) takes on the musical responsibilities since Michael Giacchino’s doing everything else for Disney these days. It’s a great score, though if there is a particular theme for Han, I can’t say I caught it. I do plan on picking up the soundtrack when it comes out next week.

Overall, Solo: A Star Wars Story isn’t one you have to run to the theatre for. It’s not a terrible film by any means. It just didn’t hold me the way I wanted it to. I feel that’s more a reflection of myself than of the film overall. Still, if you can wait the three months to catch it digitally, you might be better off doing so.

Of course, as the Dude from the Big Lebowski says “That’s just like, your Opinion, man.” Go out there, see the film and form your own.  Hope you enjoy it.

 

Here’s the Second Trailer For Solo: A Star Wars Story!


Hi, everyone!

So, the second trailer for Solo dropped on Sunday and here it is!

Y’know, compared to the other contributors here at the Shattered Lens, I’m not a huge Star Wars fan but I really have to say that this trailer looks really, really, really, really cool.  It has a totally different feel to it than any of the other Star Wars trailers that I’ve seen.  It has a sort of Ocean’s 11/Snowpiercer/Baby Driver-in-space kind of feel to it.

Plus, it also has Donald Glover!

Solo will be released on May 25th!

Rockin’ in the Film World #15: THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK – THE TOURING YEARS (Apple Corps/Imagine Entertainment 2016)


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Beatle fans will have a blast watching THE BEATLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK – THE TOURING YEARS, director Ron Howard’s 2016 rock doc covering the Fab Four’s career from their earliest club days through the height of Beatlemania, until they stopped touring for good in 1966. The film features rare and classic footage of The Beatles live in concert around the globe, juxtaposing their rise with news events of the day and interviews with all four members.

Howard conducted brand-new interviews with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and included archival interviews with the late John Lennon and George Harrison. Through these and behind the scenes clips and press conferences, we get a sense of what it was like to be at the center of all the Beatlemania  madness. Ringo says it best: “We just wanted to play… playing was the only thing” far as these talented musicians were concerned, but…

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Here’s The Trailer For Inferno!


Remember when the Da Vinci Code came out and every toadsucker in the world suddenly thought they were an expert on both art history and Catholic theology?

“The Magdalene was actually the beloved disciple and, by having Jesus’s children, she gave birth the French royal family blah blah blah blah blah..”

Yeah, everyone wants to deny it now and pretend like they were too smart to fall for Dan Brown’s BS but, just ten years ago, Da Vinci Code was a big deal.  I never had much use for it because, as an art history major, it was obvious to me that Dan Brown didn’t know a damn thing about Leonardo Da Vinci or The Last Supper.

Anyway, Ron Howard, Dan Brown, and Tom Hanks are all back with Inferno!  Inferno is going to suck but here’s the trailer anyway:

My advise is that you skip Ron Howard’s Inferno and instead, watch Dario Argento’s!

Dario Argento’s Inferno — now, that’s a good movie!

Lisa Reviews An Oscar Nominee: Apollo 13 (dir by Ron Howard)


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I just finished watching the TCM premiere of the 1995 Best Picture nominee, Apollo 13.  Of course, it wasn’t the first time I had seen it.  Apollo 13 is one of those films that always seems to be playing somewhere and why not?  It’s a good movie, telling a story that is all the more remarkable and inspiring for being true.  In 1970, the Apollo 13 flight to the moon was interrupted by a sudden explosion, stranding three astronauts in space.  Fighting a desperate battle against, NASA had to figure out how to bring them home.  Apollo 13 tells the story of that accident and that rescue.

There’s a scene that happens about halfway through Apollo 13.  The heavily damaged Apollo 13 spacecraft is orbiting the moon.  Originally the plan was for Apollo 13 to land on the moon but, following that explosion on the craft, those plans have been cancelled.  Inside the spacecraft, three astronauts can only stare down at the lunar surface below them.

As Commander Jim Lovell stares out the craft’s window, we suddenly see him fantasizing about what it would be like if the explosion hadn’t happened and if he actually could fulfill his dream of walking on the moon.  We watch as Lovell (and, while we know the character is Jim Lovell, we are also very much aware that he’s being played by beloved cinematic icon Tom Hanks) leaves his foot print on the lunar surface.  Lovell opens up his visor and, for a few seconds, stands there and takes in the with the vastness of space before him and making the scene all the more poignant is knowing that Tom Hanks, before he became an award-winning actor, wanted to be a astronaut just like Jim Lovell.  Then, suddenly, we snap back to the film’s reality.  Back inside the spacecraft, Lovell takes one final look at the moon and accepts that he will never get to walk upon its surface.  “I’d like to go home,” he announces.

It’s a totally earnest and unabashedly sentimental moment, one that epitomizes the film as a whole.  There is not a hint of cynicism to be found in Apollo 13.  Instead, it’s a big, old-fashioned epic, a story about a crisis and how a bunch of determined, no-nonsense professionals came together to save the day.  “Houston,” Lovell famously says at one point, “we have a problem.”  It’s a celebrated line but Apollo 13 is less about the problem and more about celebrating the men who, through their own ingenuity, solved that problem.

That Apollo 13 is a crowd-pleaser should come as no surprise.  It was directed by Ron Howard and I don’t know that Howard has ever directed a film that wasn’t designed to make audiences break into applause during the end credits.  When Howard fails, the results can be maudlin and heavy-handed.  But when he succeeds, as he does with Apollo 13, he proves that there’s nothing wrong with old-fashioned, inspirational entertainment.

Of course, since Apollo 13 is a Ron Howard film, that means that Clint Howard gets a small role.  In Apollo 13, Clint shows up as a bespectacled flight engineer.  When astronaut Jack Swiggert (Kevin Bacon) mentions having forgotten to pay his taxes before going into space, Clint says, “He shouldn’t joke about that, they’ll get him.”  It’s a great line and Clint does a great job delivering it.

Apollo 13 is usually thought of as being a Tom Hanks film but actually, it’s an ensemble piece.  Every role, from the smallest to the biggest, is perfectly cast.  Not surprisingly, Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Kathleen Quinlan, and Ed Harris all turn in excellent performances.  But, even beyond the marquee names, Apollo 13 is full of memorable performances.  Watching it tonight, I especially noticed an actor named Loren Dean, who played a NASA engineer named John Aaron.  Dean didn’t get many lines but he was totally believable in his role.  You looked at him and you thought, “If I’m ever trapped in space, this is the guy who I want working to bring me home.”

Apollo 13 was nominated for best picture but it lost to Mel Gibson’s film Braveheart.  Personally, out of the nominees, I probably would have picked Sense and Sensibility but Apollo 13 more than deserved the nomination.

A Dying Man, Scared of the Dark: John Wayne in THE SHOOTIST (Paramount 1976)


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THE SHOOTIST is John Wayne’s valedictory statement, a final love letter to his many fans. The Duke was now 69 years old and not in the best of health. He’d had a cancerous lung removed back in 1964, and though the cancer was in remission, Wayne must’ve knew his days were numbered when he made this film. Three years later, he died from cancer of the stomach, intestines, and spine. There were worries about his ability to make this movie, but Wayne loved the script and was determined to do it. The result is an elegy to not only the aging actor, but to the Western genre as a whole.

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The movie begins with footage of older Wayne westerns (EL DORADO, HONDO, RED RIVER, RIO BRAVO) narrated by Ron Howard (Gillom). “His name was J.B. Books…he wasn’t an outlaw. Fact is, for a while he was a lawman…He had a credo that…

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