Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Image is property of Disney and Lucasfilm

Solo: A Star Wars Story – Film Review

Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany, Joonas Suotamo

Director: Ron Howard

Synopsis: Charting the origins of a young Han Solo as he escapes a desolate planet and finds a calling as a pilot and a smuggler, which sends him on an adventure where he meets a few familiar faces…

Review: Whenever a discussion regarding the greatest characters to have graced the big screen get discussed, one name that is very likely to crop up is everyone’s favourite stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking nerf herder, AKA Han Solo. Right from his very first appearance in the franchise, he just charmed his way into the affection of legions of fans across the galaxy.  So in the wake of the extremely successful Rogue One, comes the latest chapter in the Anthology franchise, taking a look at a much younger Han, and how he came to be the cocky smuggler we know and love

It is no secret that the production of this film ran into a few problems somewhat when original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were given their marching orders, perhaps they made the mistake in shooting first? With the duo ejected off the project, Ron Howard was handed the keys to the ship. It is not known how much Lord and Miller had filmed before their exit, nor to what extent their efforts are what we see in the finished product. Given those well documented production problems, there were some concerns about how the film would turn out. Though Rogue One also had some well document production problems of its own, the finished product stayed on target to deliver the goods. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for Solo.

The start of a beautiful furry friendship…

The adventure that Star Wars veteran writer Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jonathan take us on explores the early stages of Han’s life, how he forged a friendship with a certain Wookie and the beginnings of his life as a smuggler as he gets dragged into a mission alongside said Wookie, and a group of fellow smugglers. However the film severely suffers with its pacing as the initial stages really drag. Furthermore, once the plot finally goes into lightspeed, it is just extremely bland and not memorable in the slightest.

Though it might take some time to adjust to him, Alden Ehrenreich does a solid job as the young Han. Though it has to be said, there are plenty of actors who could have assumed that role and done an equally splendid job. In spite of that, and the enormous shoes that he had to fill, he does do his best to capture that roguish streak that made him such a memorable presence in the original trilogy. There is certainly enjoyment to be had in looking at how this unlikely pair became the duo we know they come to be, as is exploring the early relationship between Han and Lando, who is perfectly portrayed by Donald Glover. Certain characters get introduced and the audience is barely given a chance to get to know them before the plot moves forward.

Apart from Han and Lando, there is severe lack of development on many of these characters. And for the ones that do get some development, like Emilia Clarke’s Qi’ra, it is flimsy at best. One thing that has so often been a staple of Star Wars films of the past was the presence of a strong compelling villain. There is a villain here, but due to a severe lack of development, he does not get the chance to leave a solid impression. Ultimately, this is also applicable for much of the rest of the cast, which is a shame when you consider the real talent of the actors involved. On that note, some of the cinematography on show here is really murky and just looks awful, which is baffling when you realise that the DP is Bradford Young, the man who was behind the lenses to the superb Arrival. And while everything is competently made, the direction from Howard is solid if unspectacular.

Usually with every SW film, there is at least one shot or scene that sticks in the mind, but with Solo these are few and far between. Furthermore, the the generic nature of the plot and its by-the-numbers execution leaves a lot to be desired, particularly when it is compared to the recent Star Wars films, both of the main new trilogy and the first Anthology film. With Han Solo, a character who never likes to be told the odds, the odds were stacked against this film, and sadly despite a super talented cast and production crew, it fell short of those lofty expectations that many perhaps expect from a Star Wars adventure. Don’t punch it Chewie, where’s that escape pod?

There is fun to be had, but the presence of the Star Wars name cannot disguise the very bland and forgettable nature of the story, even with a super talented cast and director.

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Rush (2013)

rush2013
Image is property of Exclusive Media, Universal Pictures, StudioCanal, Pathé Productions, Working Title Films, Imagine Entertainment, Relativity Media, Cross Creek Pictures

Rush – Film Review

Cast: Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Stephen Mangan, and Christian McKay

Director: Ron Howard

Synopsis: An account of the rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, as they rise to the top of Formula 1 and the pulsating and horrifying race to win the 1976 Grand Prix title

Review: An enthralling and fast paced adrenaline ride. Ron Howard does a magnificent job in giving the audience a thrilling account of the fierce rivalry between these two very skilled and determined drivers. From the moment the two rivals met at a Formula 3 event, you immediately see the stark contrast between the two drivers and the immediate mutual dislike that they have of the other.  On the one hand James Hunt, lives his life to the maximum with a lot of partying, drinking and women. This outgoing nature does not impress his wife, Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde) While Lauda is far more calm and collected, and who uses great intelligence and precision to give him the edge over his rival. While both are very different people in terms of personality, you do find yourself rooting for both of them to succeed in their aim to triumph.

The racing scenes are brilliantly recreated. You really feel your heart beat as the races are played out on screen. You really get the sense that these two are both taking death head on with a burning desire and drive to succeed in their quest to win the Formula 1 title. Their burning desire to win and defeat the other is very strong in spite of the very real dangers that a sport such as Formula 1 had at that time, as it mentions in the film, there were at least a couple of deaths in every Formula One season.

Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl both give superb performances as James Hunt and Niki Lauda respectively. Hemsworth does an outstanding job portraying both Hunt’s charismatic and party-going nature, while at the same time demonstrates the competitive, but very reckless driver that Hunt was. Brühl also gives a strong performance as Lauda as we see his great intelligence and knowledge when it comes to Formula 1 racing and equally his determination to recover and compete for the title only weeks after an a Formula 1 accident that almost killed him. Alexandra Maria Lara provides a strong performance as Lauda’s other half Marlene Lauda. She is supportive of Lauda and really comes into her own especially after the accident that almost killed Lauda, as she is the figure of support that Lauda needed. Olivia Wilde does a great job in portraying Suzy Miller, the other half of Hunt, who soon becomes alienated with Hunt’s brash and outgoing lifestyle.

All in all, Rush was a thrilling spectacle. The film is well directed and the racing scenes are brilliantly shot and the film is accompanied with a fantastic score. The races really get your heart racing. You are rooting for both of the lead actors to achieve their goals, but at the same time, you fear that there could be an accident at any given moment in the film. The two lead actors both deliver Oscar worthy performances. It is an exciting adventure that will keep your heart racing for a long time after you leave the cinema.

Gritty, suspenseful with terrific racing scenes that will ensure even if you’re not into Formula 1, you’re still going to enjoy the adrenaline fuelled ride of this movie.

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