Archive for May, 2018

Warning: Contains star destroying spoilers.

A crew devises a daring plan to travel to the mining planet Kessel to steal a batch of valuable coaxium.

Credit to award winning director Ron Howard Solo feels like a small film, focusing on characters and high stakes,  not just big sets ups. Howard offers a dark standalone entry without the plodding pacing of Willow or his drama epics. Even with the reshoots and behind the scenes director changes rest assure Howard’s vision fits perfectly in the Star Wars universe. With a few title cards introducing us to the story (no Star Wars title crawl) setting the scene. It’s builds on Rogue One’s grim look opening with Corellia. The effects are as first rate as the performances.

While Han isn’t quite the swashbuckling adventurer yet, Solo isn’t the swashbuckling adventure film either. But that’s not a bad thing leaving room for the further buddy movie adventures of Chewie and Han in the future.

Mother of Dragons Emilia Clarke makes up for her less than perfect Sarah Connor as Hans strong independent love interest. Kira Joonas Viljami Suotamo is perfect one again as Chewie mirroring Peter Mayhew‘s Chewbacca wonderfully. Here we see the Wookie fighting more, pulling arms out of sockets with glimpses into his character and background. Like all the main player characters we’ve grown to love including Lando Calrission (Donald Glover taking over the cape from Billy De Williams) are handled carefully.

Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett and his ill-fated crew are great including Thandie Newton at the top of her game and while Alden Ehrenreich may not be everyone’s first choice as a young Han Solo, he does a sterling job.

John Powell, John Williams music fits and heightens the emotion, double crosses and shootouts. We see how Han is named Sol and here we also see Han, once again, getting to shoot first in a pivotal moment. Yet, thankfully it’s not an eye rolling paint by numbers origin tale.

Amongst the excellent action scenes and impressive special effects (no distracting subpar effects, like in Last Jedi) there’s plenty of Star Wars trilogy connections with planet dropping and character (Bosk, Hutts to name a few) dialogue nods including a surprise link and character to the prequels, namely Dark Maul! It also plays against trailer expectations that Paul Bettany’s Crimson Dawn criminal boss Dryden is the masked Cloud Rider saboteur Enfys Nest who in fact is played by Erin Kellyman. The Star Wars story has plenty of twists and turns and it’s even more universe building than Rogue with its moulding of Han into the character we loved.

While not a huge spectacle film it’s still an essential and recommended Star Wars Wester-like heist film.

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Warning Spoilers

Based on The Winchester Mystery House mansion in San Jose, California, where Sarah Winchester, the widow of firearm magnate William Winchester is visited by a doctor to test her sanity.

Directors Michael and Peter Spierig offer an old school paint by numbers ghost story with a fistful of effective jump scares and solid camera work. The recreated period, costumes and setting add to the atmosphere, with the eerie unorthodox Winchester house (and star of the film) is wonderfully created, any paranormal sleuths or those who watch ghost investigation programmes will no doubt be familiar with the mansion.

The real-life story aspect adds additional interest with high-class horror performances from the excellent Helen Mirren and reliable Jason Clarke as Dr. Eric Price. Sarah Snook is notable ‎Jason Clarke. Spierigs and writer Tom Vaughan deliver high collars, possession, visions, poltergeist activity, there’s tiresome tropes of redemption and spooky The Haunted and Hill House-like ghost forgiveness.

Horror fans will no doubt spot the butler twist a mile off and raise an eyebrow at Clarke’s Price subplot but that isn’t a bad thing if you like good old fashion well produced big budget ghost stories.

Warning: Spoilers

The evil powerful Thanos is on a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, which will destroy 50 percent of the whole galaxys population, only a group of superheroes stand in his way.

With its ensemble cast (too many to mention) Avengers: Infinity War is almost wall to wall nonstop action with comic book quips throughout. Thanos is surprisingly likeable in parts and adds some emotional weight making the story more dynamic. Viewers to make sense of chaos on the backdrop of outstanding effects, fantastic sets and outlandish costumes may want to watch Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor Ragnarok to name a few essentials to make sense of the sacrifice and devastation on display.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo offer an enjoyable film with surprise deaths of beloved characters (Loki in the first few minutes) scattered over its well paced lengthy running time, which whizzes by. While older comic book readers may not be able to work out why these on screen character don’t have that secret je ne sais quoi of their paper counterparts, ultra geeks and readers of more recent comic series will no doubt find it a movie Marvel blast. Unlikely characters are paired together, creating some enjoyable comedy, tension and action moments as the story gets bleaker and bleaker for our heroes.

With some sharp editing and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely leave Infinity War on a cliffhanger not seen since The Empire Strikes Back*. Or for those who will never watch another Marvel instalment, behold the most nihilistic ending to a comic book film ever.

*There’s the obligatory after credit scene where Nick Fury calls on Captain Marvel to help Marvel film fans sleep at night until the next installment.

*Spoilers ahead*
An alliance of sorts is formed so that the group can tow their armoured vehicle from a horde of the dead drawn to the sound of its horn.

Despite a post murky filtering tinkering, episode 3 of season 4’s Fear the Walking Dead gains momentum, this is another strong episode from the underdog. The previous 3 series has debatably worked best when it’s not trying to walk like The Walking Dead notably early outbreak city setting, a boat, a villa and hotel respectively. When avoiding The Walking Dead military The Warriors gang tropes is seems to fare better. A jump in time in season 4 has helped usher in Morgan Jones but trading off that interesting earlier outbreak vibe.

The acting in this episode is particularly strong. Garret Lee Dillahunt’s John Dorie is on tracker form, along side Walking Dead’s Lennie James who portrays stick wielding Morgan. Here Jones gives some good advice to Nick and gifts him his little book of peace. We find member Maggie Grace’s Althea holds a journalist secret. Kim Dickens as Madison Clark appears in Nicks flashbacks which become poignant in retrospect. Colman Domingo is on usual problem solving form as Victor.

This is a stand out episode most notable for selfless recovered heroin addict Johnny Depp-alike Frank Dillane’s Nick Clark meeting a surprise death! After fittingly exacting revenge, his untimely demise is by the hand of child. Shot dead! Dillane is excellent durning blood curdling death scene and actor Alycia Debnam-Carey shines as Nick’s sister in his final moments.

While a strong game changing curve ball episode it’s a shame such an interesting and great character wonderfully played is shockingly killed off, that said, there’s plenty more life Fears back to basics and grounded character approach. Let just hope that Fear doesn’t become a one gang verses another gang show.