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!

GET OUT (4/4): Scary, smart & seriously funny!

Horror film market is filled with cheap thrills or gore these days. The use of latest technology and stuff has made it all about getting you jump off your seat by disturbing loud noises, or getting you disgusted by disturbing loud violence. But in that dirty crowd, here comes a smart horror film, that's scary, funny and thought provoking as well. And you may be lil surprised (although not me!), but its the genius of Jordan Peele of Comedy Central's Key & Peele. Jordan is the writer and director of this brilliant film, which makes you go WOW, on too many occasions. 

I'll say this out front, the spoilers about this film can actually spoil the film for you. It's more of a psychological thriller, so what you read next, can change your experience of the film. Just saying!

***SPOILERS***

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is visiting his 4 month old girlfriend Rose's (Allison Williams) parents for first time. He's concerned that how will the white parents, Missy and Dean (Catherine Keener & Bradley Whitford) will take the fact that he's black. But Rose is confident and protective of him too. And on first sight, parents seem fine too. But something is off in their reaction and interaction with him. Not necessarily racism, but something weird. Something also seems to be going on with the two black servants in the house. But things get really weird when he gets to meet rest of the town folks, in a house party, which becomes racist and super weird and more... It becomes a question of life & death!

Is the town possessed? How weird are these people? Are they really racist or...? Who's against Chris and who's on his side? What the F**K is going on?

This film is not a supernatural horror film. Its a truly crazy psychological science-fi-ish thriller, that is actually scary too. Crazy as in, someone's craziest BS/joke becomes REAL, and it's terrifying! What's that BS? In the (paraphrased) words of Rod Williams (Lil Rel Howery), the TSA officer who's the only person able to decode this conspiracy, using his advanced detective skills he acquired from his TSA training (Peele cannot give up TSA, the esteemed organization. And I love him for that). 

"In this crazy ass white town, white people are brainwashing black visitors, and using them as slave or sex slave!"

Yeah, it sounds crazy, or sketch from a Key & Peele or SNL. But that's exactly what's happening. Rose's parents are leader of a cult, which the entire town is part of. Rose brings new victims as her boyfriends & girlfriends, and then they get brain transplanted by Dean after being hypnotized by Missy. They transplant the brains of older & weaker people in town, in the body of these younger black males. And Chris is the next target!

***SPOILERS END***

The film is perfectly cast. Daniel and Allison make a perfect couple, but when the things turn around, both of them play there part beautifully. Either its being scared, or being scary, they do the job well. All other actors are wonderful in their roles, but the stand out performance of the film is the TSA super-agent Rod Williams (played by the amazing Lil Rel Howery). He's funny, he's crazy and he's just awesome. He deserves his own spin-off movie or TV show. He does the impossible. He makes you almost like TSA!

The film is beautifully shot and directed. It uses sounds, camera work and everything else to scare you. The amazing writing and the plot keep the tension tight and hot. But there are still several hilarious moments, which do not break the tension, but add to it. The moments that make you jump from your seat, or call out to the screen, or even cheers for characters are plenty. It's truly an iconic genre defining kind of landmark film.

So, if you ever thought that a horror film cannot be really scary & seriously funny, and also have a smart and interesting plot, you NEED to watch this film. And if you didn't think so, you still need to watch this true gem from the wonderful Jordan Peele, and give him a bow, salute and clapping with cheers. Great job Jordan, great job!!!

The Jungle Book (4/4)

We all have our memories of watching Disney's animated Jungle Book, and most of us loved it. Growing up in India, watching Jungle Book every Sunday, was something I looked forward to. And I was really looking forward to this movie. And to put it in few words, The Jungle Book is awesome. We really have to thank Jon Favreau, for not ruining our childhood memories, but actually nourishing and refreshing them.

There's not much spoilers in the story, since most of us know it. It's a story of a boy, who got lost in jungle, when his father was killed by a Tiger. The boy was found by a black leopard, and left with wolves to grow up, as a man-cub, as a wolf. Until the Tiger finds the boy again, and vows to kill him. And the boy decides to take on the tiger, instead of running away, with the help of his old and new friends.

But the beauty of the film is in its authenticity to the source material, both the original Disney film, and the original work by Rudyard Kipling. The film manages to create the magical world that Disney did in its animation film. And probably what Mr Kipling would have imagined. The animated jungle is surreal, beautiful, scary, deep, big, all at the same time. The animated animals are as real as real animals, I believe. Thanks to the amazing technology, and Disney $175 million budget, it all looks just perfect.

All The voice cast is just brilliant. Idris Alba gives a new definition to Shere Khan. He's fierce, terrorizing, and mighty. Bill Murray's Baloo is definitely the best Baloo, and the best bear character ever. Who better than Bill to be our beloved, funny, laid-back, smart-ass, Baloo.Christopher Walken as King Louis is quite a treat, in his New Yawk accent. Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong, Scarlette Johanson, Giancarlo Esposito and all the voice cast is great. And last, but not the least, Neel Sethi is the best Mowgli ever. Not just because finally an actual Indian is cast as Mowgli, but because he's all that Mowgli needs to be. He acted with no partners, but all CGI, which was done in post-production. And he does amazing job.

You may not like this movie, if you do not like good movies. You would like the movie, if you like good movies. So, you should go watch it! 

Trailer:

Checkout the video below to see behind the scenes of the

THE BOSS (2/4)

Melissa McCarthy is definitely one of the funniest, boldest and smartest woman in Hollywood. And she proves that again, in her new movie THE BOSS. The movie is about a self made billionaire businesswoman (47th richest woman) who hits a bump, and goes into slump. But she pulls herself out, with help of her newly made "family", and in the process, helps the not-so-rich family, friends and many-many young girls as well. Sounds like an emotional dramatic motivational film, right? But oh well, this is Melissa we are talking about!

***spoilers***
Michelle Darnell (Melissa) is not just rich, but also a "bitch". Under pays her hard working assistant Claire (the wonderful Kristen Bell). Cheats, steals and destroys other's career and her own love. And does a little inside trading (like everyone in the so called rich world does), which lands her in jail. She also ends up losing everything she has made, and literally ends up on street. Since she has no family or friends, but a lot of haters, she ends up at Claire's doorstep, where she finds a shelter, on Claire's young daughter's insistence. But the snobby, condescending and anti-family/love Melissa is a nightmare guest. That's where the real fun begins!

To recover and redeem herself, she decides to sell Claire's delicious home recipe brownies. The inspiration for Darnell's brownies business are the Girl Scout cookies, but business-oriented, where everyone makes real money. This is where the next level of hilarious-ness ensues. Struggle, success, family, love, revenge, and even real action. Empires get made, sold and fought for. And is all quite funny & fun!
***spoilers end***

Even though it's a hilarious joy ride to watch, some jokes do seem to fall flat. There's many cliches, and slap-stick jokes, that everyone may not find funny. The dialogues are not as comical genius as you may want. The editing is tight, but direction seems to get lost at times. But overall, the film finds its direction, and does a fine job to entertain.

The movie is heavily reliant on Melissa's shoulders, and she takes that load very well. She's funny, she's crass,
she's gross, she's everything. She falls, jumps, fights, exposes, swears and everything an R rated film needs. Even though there's lot of kids in the film, t's quite R rated, aka not really a family film? Peter Dinklage is not very well used, but he's brilliant in his part. Hopefully, some day, some film can use his real talents. Or we can just rely on 'Game of Thrones' for that. Kristen Bell goes all in, in the role. She's one of the most under rated actress of today.  Tyler Labine is just hilarious in his short role, a great catch for this film, rather than some hollywood hunk. Ella Anderson (as the young daughter) and rest of the cast is great too. Another thing to point out as the casting, which is quite well balanced, with lots of woman, people of color/ethnicities and a good diverse mix. And it all works great!

So, if you like Melissa or you like female lead/oriented (if you don't,
you should!), you'll like this film. If you're expecting a Bridesmaid or SPY, you need to slightly lower your expectation and just go and enjoy this funny movie and the wonderful Melissa McCarthy!