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Solo A Star Wars Story Review (2018) | An Entertaining But Unnecessary Spin-off

Totally unnecessary! We all knew what was going through our minds when we first heard the news about Solo A Star Wars Story. You cannot put a face to a legend while he is still alive and breathing. Hell, we are not over it yet! In comes the spinoff, totally uncalled for, and completely unnecessary that tries to cast a young actor, nay, more importantly, a look-alike, to carry on the legacy for years to come. Don’t really see the point? Do you?

Anyways as a Star Wars aficionado, more Star Wars stuff the better, right? So we went along with it when Ron Howard announced that he was making a spinoff of the legendary Han Solo to tell, nay fabricate, his part of the story before he ever made it to the first part like what was he doing all this time? What all adventures he embarked on? How did he meet Chewie? Why is his name Solo?

All these prying questions about interesting people’s lives often intrigue us, but it is better to leave that part to mere imagination. When you put a story in someone’s past, there is a 50% chance that it might not justify a person’s awesomeness. But then there is that 50% chance that might make you revere him/her even more.

Luckily Solo A Star Wars Story edges itself precariously in between. It is at times good, at times fun and at times outright stupid. But is it good for the popularity for the character? Yes! Because that’s when people compare versions. That’s how Gods are made.

Plot of Solo A Star Wars Story (Spoilers)

Lovers Han (Alden Ehrenreich) and Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke) are trying to escape a local gang from Corellia by bribing an Imperial officer using a coaxium sample when Qi’ra is left behind. With a promise to get back to her and a dream to become the best pilot in the galaxy, Han joins Imperial navy as a flight cadet. Expelled 3 years later, he joins the infantry on Mimban.

I am gonna be a pilot. Best in the galaxy.

Alden Ehrenreich in Solo A Star Wars Story

There he comes across Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and his team and sees through their cover. He tries to blackmail them but is outsmarted and thrown into a pit to be fed to a Wookie.

Let me give you some advice. Assume everyone will betray you. And you will never be disappointed.

Chewbacca

That’s where he meets Chewbacca. With his ability to speak the Wookie language, he befriends Chewie and escapes the pit. Coming on to the good side of Beckett, he and Chewie join them in their mission to retrieve coaxium shipment from Vandor – I.

The mission begins to go awry as Cloud Riders show up headed by Enfys Nest. Two of the crewmates die and all of the coaxium gets destroyed. To make amends with Beckett who reveals that the shipment was actually meant for Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) the crime boss of a Crimson Dawn syndicate, Solo accompanies Beckett volunteering to help him steal another coaxium shipment. On reaching Vos’ yacht he comes across Qi’ra and finds out that she has joined hands with Vos and is one of their top lieutenants.

Qi’Ra: What should we drink to?

Han Solo: Let’s drink two and see where it goes.

Tobias Beckett in Solo A Star Wars Story

Presenting a risky plan to steal coaxium before it is processed from the mines of Kessel, Solo manages to wheedle Vos. Vos agrees asking Qi’ra to join them on their mission. (Like really? What kind of a boss knowingly leaves his prized possession with an old lover?)

You think everything sounds like a bad idea.

Lando Calrissian

Qi’ra brings the team to Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) with hopes to retrieve his ship. Solo defies him for a game of sabbac with the wager being on each other’s ship (with Solo bluffing to be having one). Lando cheats to win however agrees to help them for profits. Entry! *drum rolls* Millenium Falcon!

Just did the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs!

The newly formed team reaches Kessel riding the Falcon. Lando’s droid L3-37 sparks a droid revolt and under that diversion Solo manages to steal the unrefined coaxium. However, L3 fails to make it. Using her navigational computer to map an escape route, Han pilots the Millenium Falcon for the first time piloting it like a pro to escape Imperial assault. Then they land on Savareen to process the coaxium.

That’s when Enfys shows up once again.

You happen to notice that freighter down there? You know what’s on it? About 30 hired guns. All I gotta do is give ’em the signal, you are surrounded.

Lando flies away with his Falcon.

The Final Showdown

Enfys (Erin Kellyman) reveals that she and her crew were all rebels trying to fight the Syndicate and the Empire. Sympathetic to their cause, Solo decides to help them by tricking Vos, but ends up getting double-crossed by Beckett. Vos sends his men to capture Cloud Riders but the latter overpowers them. Outsmarting Vos, Solo tries to take the coaxium but Beckett takes it instead. He takes Chewie as hostage too.

Qi’ra kills Vos sending Han after Beckett. When she is alone she speaks to none other than Darth Maul about what happened claiming Beckett to be responsible. She demands Vos’s position and is directed to return to Maul.

Solo catches up to Beckett and shoots him. Then he and Chewie deliver the coaxium to Enfys. On being asked to join the rebellion Han declines, although is offered a coaxium vial to buy him his own ship. They go straight to Lando where Han steals the card Lando used to cheat with, and wins the Falcon off his hand. Before the curtain falls, they are on their way to Tatooine where a big shot gangster (wink at Jabba the Hut) is hiring for a job.

You can order Solo: A Star Wars Story with bonus content from here:

The Missing Chemistry

The most frustrating thing in Solo A Star Wars Story is the chemistry between Alden Ehrenreich and Emilia Clarke which is entirely missing. Primarily because Alden is too busy nailing his expressions to match them with Harrison Ford‘s. You can’t see him getting serious about his acting. He is just too busy putting on a mask. The intensity in his acts is missing by light years.

Solo Qi'ra A Star Wars Story

Even the music doesn’t do its job. It is like two robots interacting even though they see each other in forever. Dramatic bits are simply absent.

Then there is a point where it all becomes really insipid. The discussion between L3 and Qi’ra about men. You almost feel like shouting out loud, “Oh! C’mon!” That just ends up making the writing all the more shoddy.  Love ends up becoming almost instantly something repulsive.

The naming ceremony of Han as Solo doesn’t feel well written.

Moments to Cherish

For a guy watching a movie first time in 4DX, the experience of watching Solo A Star Wars Story was simply outstanding. All the props the theatre carried only supplemented in the storytelling. There were plenty of moments in the movie that literally defined the word “joyride”. The best part was when Han Solo piloted Millenium Falcon. That’s when its real import was felt. It was as if I was flying it since the seats moved based on the action onscreen.

That being said, there is action galore. Only a few moments where Solo A Star Wars Story movie stands silent. All the other parts are engaging and entertaining. The meeting of Chewie and Solo was well written, and of Solo and Millenium Falcon felt like destiny aligning itself to assist the inevitable.

Solo A Star Wars Story also scores well in the Visual Effects and Cinematography department. It is visually very attractive. Scenes chosen at Savareen look extremely brilliant. Then you can’t undermine the roles played by Woody Harrelson and Paul Bettany. They are intensely powerful and well executed.

The Final Verdict

Overall the movie is very entertaining if you are not bothered by facts like the chemistry or the acting for that to matter. It does not justify the character that we grew up revering. But it does help in weaving a backstory and in days to come one might remember it as such.

At the end of it all, you cannot help but wonder why it was created in the first place. Was the spin-off really required? If so, there are plenty of characters in Star Wars that could thread out into their own universe. Are we then supposed to simply keep creating new non-existing timelines for each one of them? Or let things be for a while and focus on the actual story and strand it out instead. That’s a million dollar question.

Check out our other movie reviews from 2018.

Spider-Man Homecoming Review (2017) | Importance of Being Ready

Spider-Man Homecoming portrays a very realistic view of how our friendly neighborhood Spiderman should be like. He is vulnerable because he is just a kid. He is trying to make his mark to be recognized as one of the big ones (Avengers) and yet he has so much to learn. Spider-Man Homecoming is like that realization of Spiderman about himself, his powers, his capabilities and his limitations. He faces danger head on and narrowly escapes death so many times, that it has him doubting his abilities. And it’s a good thing for his character that’s trying to become something huge.

For those who have already watched Captain America: Civil War movie they know how effortless he had made it all seem in the flick. It was almost like Spidey could beat anyone any day. And that’s probably what he was thinking too. He became smug, too confident of his powers, and in that desperation started to get ahead of himself. To be given an opportunity to tag shoulders against the elite that was really something, but to consider yourself worthy of a seat alongside, now that was too much for a teen to ask.

The movie is all about a kid trying to prove himself that he is something more, and that he be considered for future missions since he could handle it. But he faces one of the most challenging villains in the form of Vulture (Michael Keaton) who makes him believe that he isn’t yet ready for it. That forms the real basis of the tale of Spider-Man Homecoming.

Direction of Spider-Man Homecoming

The direction of Jon Watts is pretty cool and is on the lines of all Marvel movies. It is subtle at many occasions, cuts in at just the right time to keep the story chugging forward. The best part is that unlike The Amazing Spider-Man series it doesn’t rush into anything. It shows us just one rad villain, letting us retain as much focus as we want. Jon Watts lets us connect all the dots with the Avengers and Civil War so as to let us know that Spidey era was all along happening alongside. He chooses to show some of the bits cleverly using Spidey’s very own personal camera. It is very satisfying to watch.

The screenplay is brilliantly penned and there is humour almost at every corner. Jon makes sure you thoroughly enjoy the flick and all of its other aspects. He ropes in a fun character Ned (Jacob Batalon) as a sidekick making the Spidey story very much relatable.

Tom Holland as Spidey

Tom Holland absolutely nails Spiderman. People might have come to know him when he bagged his first Spidey project, but I remember him playing the kid in The Impossible. And he played his part so convincingly that I knew he was going to climb the ladder to success real quick. And lo, he is already at the peak of his career at such a young age.

still from Spider-Man Homecoming movie

His acting prowess is a delight to watch. He puts the word “amazing” in the Spider-Man owing to his perfect size, a mouthy mouth and a perfect physique. Holland is also brimming with emotions and you can see them ooze out whenever something huge is about to go down. He is a wonderful actor and has a bright career ahead. There’s not a morsel of doubt there.

Michael Keaton as Vulture (Spoilers Ahead)

It was a great decision to cast Michael Keaton as the infamous villain Vulture. He proves himself really worthy in those bird shoes yet again. He is a great actor who makes every act really convincing to watch. His character’s introduction is done pretty smartly. We are shown that he is a circumstantial bad guy. His operation is cut off when Stark’s DODC shows up at his gates taking away his job leaving him in a huge debt. He ends up selling Chitauri technology to create weapons of mass destruction and selling them on the black market to earn a livelihood. Eight years later we see him reeking of villainy as the badass Vulture.

Marvel is fond of stories that poke a finger at the politics and the government that create villains out of simple men. It is a beautiful satire that leaves us wondering on how a huge disaster could have been avoided in the first place. Also, it is a slap in the face of all those high-seated personnel who create monsters out of men. It only compels us to be more considerate and humane towards each other.

In the end, we see him protecting Spiderman’s true identity that shows us that the good still pervades in him.

If I knew who he was, he’d already be dead.

The Iron Man Angle

There is just the right amount of Iron Man in Spider-Man Homecoming to make you understand the importance of responsibility and why Iron Man thinks that it is crucial for Peter Parker to complete his education. He drops in more than once to save his ass, and teaches him life’s valuable lessons by being a fatherly figure.

If you are nothing without the suit, then you shouldn’t have it.

Even though Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) doesn’t act like one he is an idol to Peter. Peter looks up to him a lot. Even though nobody says it loud and clear, “with great power comes great responsibility” it is flung around in situational plots. A job beautifully performed by the writers.

still of tony stark and peter parker in spiderman homecoming

Eventually, when Tony is immensely impressed by Peter for capturing Vulture single-handedly, he wishes to introduce him as an Avenger. But Peter turns him down realizing that he isn’t ready yet. And we see it throughout the movie on how many times he screws up.

There are tons of times he narrowly escapes death. He even skips ahead on his Suit lessons and ends up paying the price. It is this realization that makes him understand the importance of “one step at a time”. It is overwhelming for any man to directly skip to the final lesson because he wouldn’t be prepared for surprises. And no one has succeeded ever by going unprepared.

Spidey finally understands why it is important for him to be “ready”, and focus on his studies to take baby steps into the men’s world.

You can order Spider-Man: Homecoming from here:

The Million Dollar Debate

If you would notice closely you would realize Spider-Man got his ass kicked throughout the movie. There was hardly a time when he didn’t screw up. Now that’s a weird idea for a superhero even though how sick his moves were or how cool he appeared in action, it complements the story beautifully. Besides, it was never about him being dope and not making mistakes, the movie was entirely about him making mistakes. So that he understands the value of being truly “ready”.

Nevertheless, we see the villain kicking his ass too much throughout. The final fight leaves you with a sour taste because it ends so quickly, too quickly for a boss fight. Also, figuring out his true identity wasn’t at all tough for Vulture which kind of poses a question why it is hard for people to figure out Superman‘s true identity even though the bloke just wears specs.

The way the movie ends opens a jar of villains waiting to be unleashed at the poor lad. The topmost contender is Mac Gargan. Let’s wait and watch!

The Final Verdict

Spider-Man Homecoming is brilliantly written and directed. Tom Holland simply takes it to a whole new level. With MCU trying to spin related webs to keep all the dots connected, watching this flick becomes even more exciting. With him signing 6 MCU movies the future of Spidey looks all the very more bright. Can’t wait to watch more of him.

Check out the trailer of Spider-Man: Homecoming here:

The Jungle Book Review (2016)

Adorable and adhering to the tale.

HISTORICAL IMPORT

The Jungle Book has a special place in our hearts. Some fail to fathom the hype in our heads. We have waited impatiently for this movie to release and jog us down the forgotten memory lane ever since the news broke loose. The sole reason: 1989 show Jungle Book Shonen Mowgli! The dubbed TV show used to be our all-time favourite. Its outspread wings covered more than 20 languages all across the globe, a commendable feat to score even during that span. The acclaim was such that its song would be on every child’s lips. That explains our inane fandom behind it.

Coming across the Rudyard Kipling excerpt was enthralling too as images from the anime would come running down to fill the voids. Every character had a face. Every word had a voice. My fanatic knew no bound when I heard it was going big screen.

THE JUNGLE BOOK DIRECTION

Now that we have finally arrived at a juncture where Jon Favreau has successfully helmed the gorgeous telling story to justify the awesome Kipling book, it is hard not to give him an ovation. With a superb CGI that walks hand in hand with realistic looking animals and endearing voiceovers, The Jungle Book era seems to have finally met a new high. The kind we, as diehard fans, were looking for. Whilst little has been done to mould the plot, which is by the way just perfect, we are racing down to meet exceptional twists and turns in its impending installments. Way to go Favreau!

CHARACTERS BROUGHT TO LIFE

Shere Khan is simply a badass. He carries a demonic mien that will give you the chills looking at him. Idris Elba takes him to fearsome heights. Baloo’s entry is well thought of and perfected by Bill Murray. Ben Kingsley imparts a thoughtful grim demeanour to Bagheera. You cannot ignore Christopher Walken’s perfect voice for King Louie. He puts life into that animal. Lupita as Raksha is magnificent. Adorable wolf-cubs in the movie will fill your heart up with delight.

Screenplay is kind of average, sticking to origins at times, sometimes swaying, but not really that powerful.

DOWNSIDES TO THE JUNGLE BOOK

The parts that I didn’t like much were these trivial insignificant things which I choose to ignore:

Starting off with Neel Sethi, we could have done better. The lad, although great in resemblance, doesn’t really fit the bill. He looks absent emotionally as he if knew he was surrounded by CGI and not the real deal. Favreau fails to milk his emotions enough. Sentient things seemed aloof. Sometimes the CGI would dwindle when showing movements of animals and things would awkwardly move into the animated horizon. But still it all held up pretty fine. The end result we get is The Jungle Book we have always wanted as a kid.

Now that we have a darker version under the anvils (The Andy Serkis version) it would be intriguing to see towards which abyss this tale steers toward.