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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.

War for the Planet of the Apes Review (2017) | Epic Conclusion to Caesar’s Tale

War for the Planet of the Apes is as alluring as its prequels. The third installment in the franchise doesn’t disappoint either. It has all the goodness inbred that came scuttling down over from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes movie that we saw in 2014. So it would be safe to say Visual Effects were as stunning as ever. The story treads the aftermath of the collision we saw in the prequel and is taken forward by Woody Harrelson‘s insane character The Colonel. He ignites the events of the tale that ends up swallowing the entire ape community.

Direction and Story of War for the Planet of the Apes (Spoilers Ahead)

Matt Reeves walked in with a premeditated setup that he co-wrote alongside Mark Bomback. The result is an epic story that tries to seethe in Caesar an absent verve of vengeance. Caesar becomes adamant on revenge and becomes so smitten with it that he ends up overlooking his leadership. There is death in his eyes and he wishes to deliver the same to a man who snatched away everything from him.

The direction is paced slow for us to feel the right emotional vibes, connect with the protagonist, to understand why he does what he does. He chooses revenge, letting his guard down, losing his cool, which doesn’t end well for him. Locked in a cage with his entire community he ends up becoming vulnerable. Watching their leader stranded in a similar fate, many of the apes feel disappointed and lost.

Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes

But he stands for them being the leader he was and ignites that spark of hope in them all over again. He has friends on the outside that help him concoct an escape plan that he then later executes but he can’t let go of that sense of vengeance. So he ventures in to smite at the Colonel’s gate as the rest of the apes try to escape.

The Colonel’s Fate

In a discussion with Caesar, The Colonel spews out how he chose to wipe out humans who were affected by the Simian flu that included his own child too. It was his answer to devolution as the Simian virus was ending up reversing nature’s plan by turning the human mindset into that of apes. Owing to Colonel’s revolting plans there was a whole army knocking at his door to win their internal war.

Whilst some might have been rooting for an epic showdown, the Colonel ends up being a victim to the Simian flu himself. It was like poetic justice delivered on him by nature itself. He becomes what he wanted the world to dread. He ends up taking his own life pulling the trigger on himself.

The Bad Ape Angle

We have a fun character in the form of Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) who is an ape Caesar finds in a hideout. He brings in some humour to the otherwise grim tale using his clumsy acts and broken English. He is an absolute fun charmer and he helps in breaking that sadistic monotony that runs for the major part of the flick.

bad ape in war for the planet of the apes

If I might stretch that moniker further, the flick also has Koban elements written all over it. There is a hint of Koba in his follower apes who have chosen to help the humans and are killing their own kind without batting an eye. We see that in the form of betrayal twice and you can’t help but feel bad for Caesar. It is like even though the evil is broken, there would always be its shards left out in some who would still end up coming after you.

Koba is also referenced when Maurice points out to Caesar in his attempt to deliver justice he has become Koba himself. When the lights in Caesar’s head begins to flicker, we get to see Koba twice as he grins to the reality that faces Caesar. He had indeed become Koba in his madness to avenge his wife and child. He had put his entire ape community in danger by leaving them without a leader. That broken shard had got him too.

Humanity a Curse

There is another important point worth noticing in the flick. It is that of mercy that Caesar shows to the people who came to kill him and his fellow apes. Whilst it is hard for people to get it, and it probably might have furrowed some angry brows in the audience too, it is a thing that sounds so not like humans.

We are not savages.

Caesar wants to make a point by letting some of The Colonel’s men live. And the same night we see The Colonel barging on their doors to kill him. It makes you want to hate mankind instantly for that. Why would one do that? Why can’t they choose peace? What is it with the ego?

The worst feeling is when the guy who had returned to safety owing to Caesar, ends up wanting to shoot Caesar as if he was obliged to. It is insanely inhumane of him to do that. That’s also where you want to rip his heart out for being a complete ungrateful douche.

The Good Left in Humanity

Whilst the writers of War for the Planet of the Apes paint a picture of a dystopian world where everything human makes you want to retch, we have also been presented a character of a mute girl Nova (Amiah Miller) who speaks a thousand words without saying anything. She is a subtle wink on how human innocence is the only thing worth cherishing. And that innocence can only be found in a child. Children only register things that are “immediate” without having an understanding of the background.

Nova doesn’t realize she is sick of the Simian, that finding her would mean people hunting her. Her ballsy act can be witnessed in the part where she walks in to save Caesar by offering him food and water. She is unperturbed by who might see her around helping out the apes and yet she does the right thing. Nova saves Caesar by helping him stand on his feet.

Nova in war for the planet of the apes

She is probably the only thing good about humans that Caesar too comes to terms with.

You can order War for the Planet of the Apes from here: The Farewell

In a world of cinematic universes where people choose to retire, (and it’s been aptly done so far with the likes of Creed and Logan doing us the honors) apes had to do it too. They had to part with their extraordinary leader Caesar and his run had to be the most revered of all times. Caesar gets a franchise he deserves, as Matt Reeves allows him to call it quits.

Andy Serkis served us good, and even though we wanted to see more of him, it was time his character was put to rest too. He is like a God to all apes and without the direction he had shown his fellow apes it would have been hard for any of them to even stand a chance. That being said the future will now be written on the grave of Caesar as apes would remember his colossal sacrifice.

The Final Verdict

War for the Planet of the Apes deserves every accolade there is. It is a conclusive part that celebrates the character of Caesar the most as we see him dwindle and then rise again like the warrior he is. It teaches us so many values in the form of mercy, that nature has its own way of punishing, that nothing good ever comes of revenge and that there is still some good left in the world.

Epic conclusion to the Caesar saga!

Check out the trailer of War for the Planet of the Apes movie:

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 Review (2015)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 aptly concludes the saga.

“You love me. Real or not real?”

The aforesaid escapes Peeta’s lips when he is trying to isolate real memories from the contorted ones. “Real” replies a reassured Katniss as she seeks comfort in Peeta’s arms. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is an epic finale and a brilliant conclusion to a colossal tale. It all ends right here. Everything boils down to a twisted devious plot well executed by Francis Lawrence. Complemented him a great closure that came winging straight from the rad Suzanne Collins’ book.

Francis helms a beauty of a movie as he sluggishly walks unfurling the gorgeous plot piece by piece taking the bad-ass score at apt junctures. You could almost tell how much effort has been put into the film-making. Every frame is superbly cut, and changed aptly with the right background score for emphasis. Like a scene where Katniss hugs Primrose and the camera revolves around them leaving only music and their eyes to do the talking. So many such gorgeous frames are imbibed in the flick that can’t just go unnoticed.

The drama is great just like its predecessors with Jennifer doing a lot of work to hit the right emotions. Screenplay keeps getting better with every progressive line. Both Danny and Peter did a great job squeezing out the right words.

Pods in the Mockingjay – Part 2 are thrilling to watch. Surprises are strewn all over the Capitol, and things become quite daunting for the team. Mutts in the movie are terrifying. The fight scenes that follow their inclusion are pretty dope too. If you are looking for action, then that is how little you will get to be really frank. But that’s what the saga has always been about. The story! Period.

The final bits leave you asking for more. I have never really liked epilogues. The fact that it is all going to get over soon makes me sad. Like any other franchise that has reached a dead end, The Hunger Games too gradually slips into oblivion which is disheartening.

Anyways, if you have been an avid Hunger Games fan all this time this epic finale can’t be missed. Go for it!