Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) Review

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

Directed by Ron Howard

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

Music by John Powell & John Williams

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
During an adventure into a dark criminal underworld, Han Solo meets his future copilot Chewbacca and encounters Lando Calrissian years before joining the Rebellion.


My Opinion:

I saw this at midnight last night. I’m exhausted! But I suppose I better do a quickie review before America gets to see this tonight (is that right?). Because I’m sure everyone is just dying to know my opinion as there’ll be NO other reviews to be found for this movie anywhere. Yeah, the other reviews will be much more detailed than mine. You won’t find that here. I’ll make this very quick and just let you know if I liked the latest Star Wars movie or not.

Yep! I liked it. I really really liked it. Not sure yet if I loved it, but… Maybe. I need to see it again. Here’s how I feel about all the new Star Wars movies (I’ve linked to my full reviews):

The Force Awakens: LOVED it. Easily my favorite of the new ones.
Rogue One: Certainly didn’t hate it but didn’t love it. Liked it okay but, overall, it just didn’t work for me. Felt the least “Star Wars” to me.
The Last Jedi: Wasn’t happy with this at first. It has grown on me. I certainly like it much more than a lot of people seemed to but, depending on what they do with the final film, I could end up liking this one much more or much less. Really hope they do the final film right (I want it to be more like The Force Awakens).

My ranking? I don’t yet know until the final film but it’s currently probably The Force Awakens, then The Last Jedi or Solo (time will tell so I’ll make them a tie at the moment) and then Rogue One. My hubby’s order (HUGE Star Wars nut), if you’re interested, is currently: The Force Awakens, Solo, Rogue One, The Last Jedi. I was surprised he has Solo in second place so far but he did thoroughly enjoy it.

So onto Solo… As most people have said so far, this movie is a lot of fun. There seems to be a big backlash against this movie before people have even seen it. I truly don’t understand that. Is it just because they didn’t like The Last Jedi?? Wow, people are hard to please. I was shocked that the midnight showings for this at my cinema were completely dead. One screen had only six people! I love Star Wars and, no, I really don’t want to see its legacy ruined. Yes, I worry that The Last Jedi has started down that path. But let’s see how they handle the final film. And, in the meantime, let’s spend some time having fun with Han, Chewbacca & Lando since they’re fantastic characters we all love. I also saw a lot of people say “Oh, people are saying Solo is fun. That just means it’s bad”. Huh? Since when did people decide that movies aren’t meant to be fun anymore?! I want movies to be fun. I want to be entertained. Fun doesn’t automatically mean bad.



I think the most important thing to me was that they’d get our most beloved characters right. I think we all had our doubts about Alden Ehrenreich but I think he did a good job. Was he the perfect person for this role? Maybe not. But who could be? Han Solo is one of the most iconic (and coolest) characters of all time. Who can possibly do Han Solo justice?? I had no problem with Ehrenreich – I liked him as Han. And Donald Glover is great as Lando but I think we had already accepted him based on the trailers. He’s cool as f*^k. I loved seeing these two characters meeting and, even as I write this, I’m probably liking this movie even more as I think of young Han, Lando, and Chewbacca all meeting for the first time. I adored all their scenes together.


I thought all the new characters were pretty great as well. I’m not sure that I have any new absolute favorites but it’s very hard to top all of the original trilogy characters. I’m not going to get into the new additions, however, as I wish to remain completely spoiler free. I’ll just say that I liked the history that Han had with Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), Woody Harrelson and his team of “can they be trusted?” misfits were a joy and the perfect fit to team up with Han & Lando, and the baddies were quite effective – they looked the part and were menacing.


What else can I say? This movie gave me what I wanted. It’ll never top the original trilogy but no new Star Wars movie ever will. I don’t expect that from any of the new movies. I think Ron Howard has done a great job with Solo, especially considering that it was such a troubled production. It stays very faithful to & respectful of the Star Wars legacy and does all the existing characters justice. There are some great “fan service” bits that are a real pleasure but don’t feel at all forced (they aren’t the type you’ll roll your eyes at – they’re just fun). Yeah. Fun! This movie is fun. Fun is good. Fun is what I wanted. It’s okay to have fun sometimes! Solo: A Star Wars Story is a good film and, for me, it’s a welcome addition to the Star Wars universe.

My Rating: 8/10

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My Top Ten Ron Howard Movies

Happy (belated) birthday to Ron Howard, who turned 63 on March 1st. I was going to post this last Thursday but decided to post My Top Bill Paxton Movies (R.I.P. Bill Paxton – such a sad & unexpected loss).

Okay – I’ll admit that Ron Howard would never really make a list of my favorite directors (Oh… I should really make that list! That would be a tough one). I do like how varied his filmography is, though. I truly enjoyed my number one choice as well as thinking it was a very good movie. Numbers two & three aren’t exactly Oscar-worthy but they’re guilty 80’s pleasures of mine. And number four would probably top most people’s lists (and is admittedly a better film than two & three). The rest? I could take them or leave them. And man I hate How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

So, counting down to my favorite (and including all 13 I’ve seen) here are My Top Ten Movies Directed By Ron Howard:

13. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Hate)
12. Ransom
11. Angels & Demons

TOP TEN:

10. Edtv

9. The Da Vinci Code

8. Parenthood

7. Backdraft

6. A Beautiful Mind

5. Willow

4. Apollo 13

3. Splash

2. Cocoon

1. Rush

Saw But Don’t Remember:
– The Paper

Not Seen:
– Frost/Nixon
– In The Heart Of The Sea
– Everything else he’s done that I’ve not already listed… (Okay – I got bored with typing. Have a nice day, everyone!) 😉

A Beautiful Mind (2001) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from John of 501 Must See Movies Project . He also reviewed Amadeus HERE and Platoon HERE. Thanks for the reviews, John! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on A Beautiful Mind, IMDB rank 198 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

Also, if you’d like to add a link to your IMDB Review(s) on your own blogs, feel free to use any of the logos I’ve used at the top of any of these guest reviews.

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“Imagine if you suddenly learned that the people, the places, the moments most important to you were not gone, not dead, but worse, had never been.”

A Beautiful Mind explores the life of John Nash (Crowe), Nobel Prize winning mathematician.  Beginning with his graduate studies at Princeton, Nash discovers a new concept of governing dynamics, the Nash Equilibrium.  Following Princeton, Nash works at a research lab at MIT doing work for the Pentagon and teaching on the side.  He meets Alicia (Connelly), one of his students, and the two fall in love.  He is also approached by William Parcher (Harris) to do classified work in decoding a Soviet attack on America.

However, not everything is as it appears.

Based on the book of the same name by Sylvia Nasar, A Beautiful Mind is a film that balances a number of movie genres.  It’s got drama,mystery, romance, a little bit of comedy.  The various elements of the film make it insightful, suspenseful, and entertaining on a number of levels.

From a visual perspective, a lot goes on in A Beautiful Mind.  Some of the film’s early scenes, specifically at Princeton, have an older look to them.  I like when a director can add little elements like that.  It helps in contrasting the different time periods throughout the film.  They also do good with showing Nash’s perspective as he sees the various connections and patterns in the math.

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Though some of the character’s mannerisms were annoying to me, Russell Crowe does a great job of bringing John Nash to life.  I’m probably nitpicking more than anything else.  He does well with portraying the paranoid genius who was given “two helping of brain but only a half a helping of heart.”  The real life John Nash visited the set, and Crowe notices some of his tendencies, hand movements, and things of the sort, and incorporated them into his performance.

A Beautiful Mind was filmed almost entirely chronologically, and I think that helped Crowe’s performance as he became Nash and progressed naturally through the various stages of life portrayed in the film.

Jennifer Connelly, wow, what a performance is all I can say.  Even though she doesn’t command every scene she’s in, she gives a strong performance and more than holds her own.  From the beginning of their love story through the pain and anguish later on, her portrayal of Alicia Nash is believable and genuine.  As I’ve looked at some of the other people considered for her role and Crowe’s, I know Ron Howard made the right call with those two.

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Paul Bettany is an interesting character to say the least.  Having portrayed Geoffrey Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale, an entertaining role, Bettany demonstrated his ability to be a sort of classical funnyman in A Beautiful Mind.  Though a lot of his performance has the comedic undertone, he has nuggets of truth and deep insight throughout the film.  Ed Harris also gives a decent performance.  He excels in the serious no-nonsense roles like Parcher.  I don’t know if I would call him a typecast character, but his most memorable performances are ones like this one.

This is a film I’d recommend seeing twice before forming an opinion about it.  I saw this one twice in the theaters: the first time I hated it, the second time I loved it.  Knowing the major plot twist gives perspective and a different understanding to the first half of the film.   Akiva Goldsman, Ron Howard, and Brian Grazer created the world through Nash’s perspective, so the audience experiences the major twist at the same time Nash does.  I remember being very confused the first time I saw it, hence not liking it.

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“I need to believe, that something extraordinary is possible.”

It’s been probably about a decade since I’ve watched A Beautiful Mind.  Having a chance to re-visit it for me was enjoyable and a reminder of how great A Beautiful Mind is.  Russell Crowe brings John Nash’s story to life, has great on-screen chemistry with Ed Harris, Paul Bettany, and most importantly Jennifer Connelly.  Ron Howard has created a great film, one certainly deserving of the Best Picture Oscar.  See this one twice if you haven’t seen it yet.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Rush (2013) Review

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Rush (2013)

Directed by Ron Howard

Screenplay: Peter Morgan

Starring:
Chris Hemsworth
Daniel Brühl
Olivia Wilde
Alexandra Maria Lara
Pierfrancesco Favino

Music: Hans Zimmer

Running time: 122 minutes

Plot Synopsis (via Wikipedia – I think everyone knows this):

Rush is a biographical action film directed by Ron Howard and written by Peter Morgan about the 1976 Formula One season and the rivalry between drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.

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Before I Start The Review:

I’ll start by saying I hate sports. All sports. Racing? Don’t care. James Hunt & Niki Lauda? I’d never even heard of them before this film and knew nothing of this famous rivalry. So do you think I actually liked this film? Oh my god – I absolutely loved it.

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And now I have to say this – 2013 has been a disappointing year for movies. We’ve either had movies that were lots of fun but had terrible scripts & cliche characters (Pacific Rim) or we’ve had inferior superhero films (Iron Man 3) with over the top action sucking the soul out of something that had the opportunity to be a fresh new start (Man Of Steel). We’ve had a magic film (Now You See Me) already done way better in past films (like The Prestige) and a sci-fi film (Oblivion) already done way better in past films (like the myriad of sci-fi classics Oblivion wanted to be). And never mind all the sequels, remakes, and usual lack of any original ideas from Hollywood. And then there was Oz The Great And Powerful – don’t get me started on that…

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So that leaves us with “based on a true story” films. Usually a safe bet but quite often lacking in “fun”. Being a movie lover, I hate feeling like I’ve been really negative about films lately (like I was in all the reviews listed above). So it’s with great pleasure that I can FINALLY say this: Rush was the most rewarding cinema-going experience I’ve had in a very long time and you’re now going to read absolutely nothing negative. 🙂

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My Opinion On Rush:

Obviously I can’t speak of the true story (although I’m certainly interested in knowing more now!) so I’ll only be discussing Rush as a film.

This story, although in many ways quite a simple story about a sports rivalry, is absolutely fascinating. No wonder they based a film on it and how on earth had I never heard a thing about it? (That “I hate all sports” thing, I guess). Clearly by my excitement you can see you don’t need to be a racing fan to enjoy this film – you just need to be human and have at least a little bit of a heart (mine is pretty tiny). If you ARE a racing fan, though, you still won’t be the slightest bit disappointed. Howard gets the perfect balance, I think, between emotional human drama & edge-of-your-seat racing action. In a way I wonder if it was slightly more exciting for someone like me who had no clue how any of the races would end. I’m actually very glad I didn’t read up on any of the true story before the film as it probably made watching it much more intense.

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As for James Hunt and Niki Lauda, at least how they’re portrayed here, what a couple of great characters! As this took place in the 70s and (thankfully) way before the days of Twitter & celebrities airing all their dirty laundry in public and getting on our nerves, I don’t know how much of this rivalry was played out in public & how much was just written about? I don’t know just how intense it got in real life but it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch in this film. I loved how they were so different yet SO similar, especially in their arrogance. I like how this movie made them human and made us truly care about them despite some very big character flaws in both of them. I think one of the biggest things I’ve always hated about sports is the arrogance that you get from some of the sportsmen (and women? Don’t want to sound sexist!). That this movie had me loving two guys like this by the end of the film was quite a feat. Honestly – you have no idea how “unlike me” it is to like guys like these & to enjoy anything related to sports.

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Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt: Cocky, sexy, ladies man, bad boy all the girls want and all the men want to be, lives life to the fullest and doesn’t care about consequences. He was brilliant. Perfect. I couldn’t take my eyes off him and for once it was based on his performance alone.

Daniel Brühl as Niki Lauda: Cold, arrogant, intense, has no friends, personal lifestyle the exact opposite of ladies man Hunt. Also brilliant. Perfect. Possibly even MORE brilliant and perfect. And by the end I guarantee you’ll love him. And you’ll love Hunt. Even though they’re still the same people they are at the start.

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Summary:

Heart-pounding human drama that captures all the excitement and fear that are a part of racing & the risk of death those drivers face every time they get into those cars for another race. And what surely must be one of the most fascinating and intense rivalries in the history of sport between two men so different yet so alike that they can’t stand each other? THIS is the stuff of great movies. I fell in love with these men by the end of this film and now want to know more and, hell, may even start watching racing. I can’t emphasize this enough: making ME like these men and admit to MAYBE now watching a sport? Honestly, you don’t know me so you have no idea what that means. This film is THAT good. And I’m going to steal my hubby’s line after the film: “But which one of these guys was truly LIVING life?”. The film seems to ask this & everyone will have a different opinion on that just as the two main characters in the film clearly do. But should a sports movie really be making us question things so deeply? Bravo, Ron Howard! Your movie moved this hater of sports.

My Rating: 9/10

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And, yes – My list of 2013 Movies Seen has a new first place. As you might suspect. I’d use a racing term here if I knew any.

(Where are you Tim The Film Guy? For once you can’t say my rating is too low…) 🙂