SOLO: A Star Wars Story | Not Star Wars, but a good solo film

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First thing - Han Solo is an iconic Star Wars character and Harrison Ford's portrayal is almost impossible to beat. So we should not put that pressure on the newcomer Alden Ehrenreich, who honestly does an impressive enough job. Although in the hands of cinematic master Ron Howard, the expectations are running high for this film. Described as a space western, the film is centered on a young Han Solo and his adventures with his wookie sidekick Chewbacca, including their encounter with Lando Calrissian.

***SPOLIERS***

Han escapes his planet, leaving his love Q'ira behind. He joins and fights with the empire forces,  looking to escape one day and go back to his planet to find his love. He meets space criminal and smuggler Tobias Beckett and his team and ends up joining them in their next mission, accompanied by his new Wookie friend Chewbacca. As the mission goes south, they end up in front of space crime-lord Drydon Vos, who's not pleased about the failed mission and lost merchandise. Han and his team offers a new mission to acquire new merchandise to pay off for the loss. Han also finds Q'ira who work with Dryden now, and joins them on the new mission on his order. Q'ira takes the team to a smuggler and con, Land Clarission, who could help them in the new mission. As they set on to the new mission as a new team, the new adventure brings some unexpected challenges, betrayals, and accomplices leading Han to be the man he is destined to become. Also, Han does find his Millennium Falcon!

So there's lot of good in the film and some not-so-good. Here's how it goes...

THE GOOD:

  • It's a great adventure film, telling a solo story (pun intended), instead of a web of stories like your usual Star Wars fair. We follow through the life of a young and rebellious Han who's yearning to become a pilot he thinks he's destined and deserves to be.
  • Emilia Clarke, our own Dragon Queen, is truly charming and impressive in the film. I would even call her highlight of the film. Taking on the string female lead character like all new generation of Star Wars film, she's fearless, string headed and cold (Daenerys, anyone?), when need be. And very very very charming as well.
  • Paul Bettany as Dryden Vos is menacing and one of the great new Star Wars villain. It's almost unfortunate that he won't be back. Why? Umm...
  • Woody Harrelson as Tobias Beckett is expectedly great. A mentor to the young Han, who teaches him some great life lessons, "never trust anyone", and has some snarky great lines.
  • Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian is again expectedly great. Lando is just awesome, and so is Donald, it's a perfect match.
  • Lando's robot companion, L3-37 is really really cool and fun. A new cool robot in Star Wars, YAY!
  • There are some great space chase sequences. From flying cars to Millennium Falcon, once it's in Han's hands, the ride is really awesome. I mean seriously, the last few films may have failed on action and adventure, but this film has breathtakingly awesome action!

NOT-SO-GOOD

  • The film is the story before The New Hope, to setup the Han we see there. It kind of fails to do that. It's not really the Han we see there.
  • As expected and said, although Alden is good in this film, he doesn't even come close to Harrison Ford's Han. He just doesn't. 
  • Thandie Newton as Val, Tobias's partner, is amazing. But it's just sad t hat she doesn't really have much screen time. I mean, really she doesn't.
  • The film mostly follows an expected storyline and path, without throwing any surprises like Rain Johnson's The Last Jedi, or Garth Edward's Rogue One. It mostly plays it safe.
  • There's (almost) no R2D2 or C3PO. Did you catch the cameo?
  • There's no FORCE.

Overall it's a good Star Wars film, and if you are a fan of Star Wars, or good westerns, or good action adventure films etc etc, you should watch it. If you are expecting more, then may the force be with you!

FILMS ON NETFLIX—Horrors and Thrillers

Who says you have to wait until October for the best scary movies? We’ve got you covered! Check out the latest releases in Netflix horror films, starting with RAVENOUS (aka LES AFFAMÉS), releasing this Friday, March 2

RAVENOUS (aka LES AFFAMÉS) AVAILABLE MARCH 2

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Winner of Best Canadian Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and nominated for five Canadian Screen Awards, Ravenous (aka Les Affamés) is written and directed by Robin Aubert (Saint Martyrs of the Damned, Crying Out), one of the most unique voices in Québécois cinema.

In Ravenous (aka Les Affamés), Aubert returns to his horror roots to tell the story of a changed small and remote village in upstate Quebec. Locals are not the same anymore—their bodies are breaking down and they have turned against their loved ones. A handful of survivors go hiding into the woods, looking for others like them.

Director:Robin Aubert

Writer:Robin Aubert

Producers: C.S. Roy, Stephanie Morissette

Cast:Marc-André Grondin, Monia Chokri, Charlotte St. Martin,

Micheline Lanctot, Marie-Ginette Guay

Can’t wait for Friday? Here is a selection of thrillers already available on Netflix!

THE RITUAL

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Reuniting after the tragic death of their best mate, four old friends from university set out to hike through the Scandinavian wilderness. But a wrong turn leads them into the dark and mysterious forests of Norse legend, where an ancient evil still exists and stalks them at every turn.

Director: David Bruckner

Writer: Joe Barton

Producers: Richard Holmes & Jonathan Cavendish

Cast: Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier & Sam Troughton

GERALD’S GAME

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While trying to spice up their marriage in their remote lake house, Jessie must fight to survive when her husband dies unexpectedly, leaving her handcuffed to their bed frame.

Director: Mike Flanagan

Writers: Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard & Stephen King

Producer: Trevor Macy

Cast: Carla Gugino & Bruce Greenwood

THE BABYSITTER

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A lonely twelve-year-old boy in love with his hot babysitter discovers she is part of a satanic cult and must kill them all before they get him.

Director: McG

Writer: Brian Duffield

Producers: McG & Mary Viola

Cast: Bella Thorne, Robbie Amell, Samara Weaving, Andrew Bachelor, Hana Mae Lee & Judah Lewis

“It’s not hype—it’s real” long live the King. #BlackPanther

Marvel Studios “Black Panther,” is the story of T’Challa, a young African prince who takes on the mantle of King and Super Hero, and the centuries’ old legacy that comes with it.

First introduced by Marvel Comics the groundbreaking Black Panther character made its first appearance in “Fantastic Four Vol. 1” Issue 52, published in 1966 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It’s important to note that the ownership and creation of Black Panther are by White men. However, most notably there were multiple new “Black Panther” publications from the likes of filmmaker Reginald Hudlin and author/journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates.

In 2016, the Marvel Cinematic Universe welcomed T’Challa/Black Panther introducing him to a massive fan base in “Captain America: Civil War,” the record-breaking hit film that pitted the Avengers against one another.  

Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to take his rightful place as King. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life. 

It’s not hype. It’s real. “Black Panther” broke the chains of mediocrity. The rich history of the fantastical world of Wakanda is brought to life, stitching in the spiritual, the mystical and the technological influences in the “country’s” culture. The story anchors in the real world with strong, complicated but relatable characters to allow the audiences to take in a tangible, yet remarkable experience.

Chadwick Boseman’s Wakandan King is a superhero with a complicated past and uncertain future, and an identity that matters. He’s flawed therefore he’s believable. 

Under Coogler’s sturdy direction the nuances and details of the “Black Panther” storyline are impeccable. Structure firmly in place there isn’t a stereotype on the screen. It’s simple: it’s a game changer. Where the large majority of films made by white males are celebrated for their mediocrity the bar of true excellence in storytelling has been mounted, high, above the sky. To come close to claim what Coogler has achieved would require a spaceship to even attempt to claim the “throne.”

What makes “Black Panther” so explosive is that the story takes a look at “black self-hatred” and the crimes we commit against each other.  We are not innocent of our situation and if we don’t own up to this fact then we are doomed and should not really complain about the hell we created.  I mean if “we” bring the gasoline, and “we” light the fire, why should we be screaming “help me”?  There are no excuses for bad behavior and the consequences will bring a “superhero” to their knees. 

This film is unabashedly political and highlights the power of Black women as very capable heroes with wisdom and a fearlessness never before seen on the screen. 

Academy Award® winner Lupita Nyong’o’s character is Nakia a War Dog, a Wakandan spy often embedded in countries outside of Wakanda to observe and report back. She must decide whether she should be guided by her duty to her nation or her feelings for T’Challa. 

Playing a Marvel villain Erik Killmonger is Michael B. Jordan who brings such devious levels of unbridled pain that this actor actually manages to bring “sympathy” for the “devil”.

Okoye (Danai Gurai) is the head of the Dora Milaje, the all-female Wakandan Special Forces. She is the best fighter in Wakanda and she is fiercely loyal to the throne. 

W’Kabi (Daniel Kaluuya Academy Award® nominated for “Get Out” ) is the head of security for the Border Tribe who live on the borders of Wakanda and serve as the first line of defense for the country. To outsiders, they appear to be what people would “expect” of a small African nation—but the truth is they are some of the fiercest warriors in Wakanda, intent on protecting the secrets of their nation at all costs. 

Shuri (Letitia Wright) is T’Challa’s quick-witted little sister and tech wizard. The second-in-line for the throne behind her brother and is the smartest person in Wakanda—the top scientist and the innovator behind the Black Panther’s updated suits and technology.

“It’s hard for a good man to be king,” one of the best lines uttered in this film. How true, how true.  

“Black Panther” stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Academy Award® winner Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Academy Award® nominee Angela Bassett, Academy Award® winner Forest Whitaker and Andy Serkis. 

Directed by Ryan Coogler from a screenplay he wrote with Joe Robert Cole. The “Black Panther” creative brain trust includes frequent Coogler collaborators: director of photography Rachel Morrison, ASC, production designer Hannah Beachler, editor Michael P. Shawver and composer Ludwig Göransson; along with editor Debbie Berman, costume designer Ruth E. Carter, makeup designer Joel Harlow, visual effects supervisor Geoffrey Baumann, special effects supervisor Dan Sudick.     

"Black Panther" opens February 16, 2018.

Taraji P. Henson - Proud Mary | Hennessy Tastemaker Dinner

Last night, Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège held a private tastemaker dinner at Zuma in New York City honoring Taraji P. Henson for being a master at her craft and celebrating her role in the upcoming action film, PROUD MARY.

The dinner was hosted by on-air personality Bevy Smith followed by an Q&A session with Taraji P. Henson discussing her first time as a lead in an action movie, female empowerment and much more.

Guests enjoyed specialty cocktails including: Proud Mary Sidecar (Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège, Grand Marnier, Fresh Lemon juice), Hitwoman 75(Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège, Simple syrup, Fresh Lemon juice, Top with Chandon), Taraji Passion (Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège, Lemon juice, Spoonful of Passion fruit Puree) and Hennessy X.O (HennessyX.O, Hand cut Ice)

The dinner featured an exclusive gathering of media personalities and influencers such as Angie MartinezTamron Hall and many more!

PROUD MARY which hits theaters Friday, January 12, follows a hit woman (Taraji P. Henson) working for an organized crime family in Boston, who life is turned around when she meets a young boy who path she crossed when a profession goes bad. 

Director: Babak Najafi
Writers: Steve Antin, John Stuart Newman, Christian Swegal
Cast: Taraji P. Henson, Neal McDonough, Danny Glover, Xander Berkeley, Billy Brown, Margaret Avery
Producers: Andrea Ajemian, Tai Duncan, Paul Schiff
Executive Producers: Glenn S. Gainor, Taraji P. Henson
Synopsis:
Taraji P. Henson is Mary, a hit woman working for an organized crime family in Boston. Mary’s life is completely turned around when she meets a young boy whose path she crosses when a professional hit goes awry.