Review: ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’

There’s nothing wrong with Solo: A Star Wars Story, except maybe that it comes across as completely and totally routine. It plays everything safe. Nothing really unexpected happens here. This is a competent, entertaining, well-paced and reasonably plotted space adventure. It is not bold or inventive or subversive or anything else. As so-called Star Wars "anthology movies" go (all two of them), this is a step down from Rogue One in terms of vision and ambition, even if it is inherently more fun. This is comfort food, plain and simple.

The original directors of the film, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, helmed The Lego Movie, which was inventive and subversive. They were fired well into production of Solo under the catch-all Hollywood headline of "creative differences." Franchise torch-bearer Kathleen Kennedy and writer Lawrence Kasdan — among the most grizzled Star Wars veterans still in the game — apparently did not agree with the style of the young whippersnappers.

Enter Ron Howard, who came in to replace Lord and Miller. Howard delivers a straightforward Star Wars action-adventure that fits right into this universe. He disappears as a hired pro. Aside from the obligatory cameo by his brother Clint, you wouldn’t even know he was there. John Williams is notably absent (aside from lifting key themes from Williams’ past compositions, John Powell’s score doesn’t sound as Williams-esque as Michael Giacchino’s work in Rogue One), but this movie otherwise feels like all the rest.

Read the full review…

Review: ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

I didn’t set out to post my long-delayed review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi on May the Fourth. It actually was a complete coincidence. But I’ll take the coincidence in the spirit of appropriate fun nonetheless.

What is most striking about Star Wars: The Last Jedi, is that it has larger themes and aspirations that venture outside the space opera roots typically explored in this franchise. In that regard, it goes above and beyond perhaps any Star Wars movie to date and, in its very Star Wars way, moves into the thematic realm of — well, Star Trek. And, for that matter, also Battlestar Galactica.

Taken in its broad strokes, this entire film is a series of Star Wars takes on the Kobayashi Maru no-win scenario. It’s not clear until the very end of The Last Jedi, but this entire film is actually about what heroes do when faced with a number of limited options that continues to shrink until there are almost no options at all. These scenarios force impossible decisions that are born from utter desperation, huge individual sacrifices for the greater good, and pyrrhic victories that are crucially symbolic — because otherwise, in practicality, they are crushing defeats.

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Star Trek: Tarantino — say what?

So, apparently discussions of Quentin Tarantino directing an R-rated Star Trek movie are underway, which is possibly the most unexpected headline I have seen this week, and that’s in a world where Donald Trump is president.

I don’t know what to say at the moment. Does this actually have a chance of happening? Can Tarantino pull something like this off? And what should we make of the fact he wants to hire a screenwriter, which he never does with his films?

This is very strange, very intriguing, and possibly very impossible. I’ve said that Trek can be many things, but can it really be the product of Tarantino’s style?

‘Rogue One’ prioritizes the war in ‘Star Wars’


As usual, everything happens on my own delayed timetable, and this review, which was mostly written three months ago, got put on the back burner until I could finally get around to finishing it. With it coming out on Blu-ray and DVD this week, it felt like a good time to get it done already.

Rogue One is a highly entertaining example of what might be the true long-term future of Star Wars. A year after a successful rebooting via the first entry in a sequel trilogy that went to painstaking efforts to live and breathe the same sensibilities of Lucas’ original trilogy (to the point that it essentially retold A New Hope), we now have our first “stand-alone” anthology outing — which might serve as the answer to the question of what Star Wars unmoored from the Skywalker family name might actually look like. The answer: It looks and feels exactly like we’re in the Star Wars universe, but it inhabits a noticeably altered take and tone. For the first time, it seems, under director Gareth Edwards, we have a new owner turned loose in the store.

Read the review here.

Donald Trump live-tweets ‘Star Trek Beyond’

Beyond Trump
Below is a transcript of Donald Trump’s Twitter feed as he watched “Star Trek Beyond” at a recent screening.

  • This is going to be one of the all-time best movie reviews. I have the best words.
  • The Bad Robot logo is one of the worst logos in all of Hollywood. Total disaster from JJ Abrams. I always hire the best graphic designers.
  • Stupid Jim Kirk STILL in charge of Enterprise. After what happened 3 yrs ago in San Fran he should’ve been tried for treason! Unbelievable!
  • Kirk went against the military’s brave Admiral Marcus and instead sided with a terrorist and thousands died b/c of it. #LockKirkUp
  • (Read more…)

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