Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Movie Review: Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom (PG13 – 128 minutes)

The original Jurassic Park movie was released in 1993, based on Michael Crichton’s 1990 novel (you should read it if you haven’t, it’s great – just like most of his novels).  The plot was fairly simple: “During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok.”  What elevated the movie to an event, and easily one of the best movies ever made, is the incredible effects, fantastic cast, and the spectacular directing of Steven Spielberg.  Since then, we received two direct sequels, The Lost World, and Jurassic Park 3; as well as a reboot/sequel, Jurassic World.  In Jurassic World, the park was finally up and running, and we got to see exactly what John Hammond’s vision realized would look like – until, of course, everything went wrong.

Now, four years after the disaster at the park (the disaster being that a genetically engineered super-dino got loose and the military wanted to weaponized raptors), a volcano is about to erupt on Isla Nublar, threatening to wipe out all the remaining dinosaurs – who have presumably been wandering around the island for the last four years, all carefree.

This results in a conundrum.  Do we as humans jump into action to rescue these very endangered dinos, now that they are threatened with extinction from this volcano? Or, do we simply let them perish, as they weren’t really supposed to exist at this time in the first place?

Claire Dearing, one of the forgettable human characters from the previous flick who was all about profiting off genetically engineered monsters, has now had a change of heart. She is doing her best to find funding to rescue the animals from the island, since it’s not their fault they were created, and they now deserve to be saved. She gets a mysterious call from a representative from the Lockwood estate.  Benjamin Lockwood used to be John Hammond’s business partner when he first started InGen, but then they had a falling out over something that is an interesting plot point that gets unfortunately glossed over later on in the story.  In any case, Eli Mills, who works for Lockwood, tells Claire they have a sanctuary, but they need her help in rounding up and transporting the animals off the island.  He tells her they need Blue (the hero raptor, and easily best character from the previous movie), as she is the last of her kind.  He tells her to go get Owen Brady and head to the island to get Blue. 

Since Owen helped raise and train Blue, the thought is he will be able to convince her to leave the island.  Or at least not kill everyone who tries to capture her.  This does allow us to some amazing flashbacks to Blue as a youngster when Owen was training her, and my goodness was she cute.
Owen (annoyed that he was interrupted from building his own house) and Claire head to the island with Franklin Webb (tech guy) and Zia Rodriguez (paleo-vet).  Once on the island, they meet military asshole Ken Wheatley who says he’s there to help, but is waving every villain red flag he can find. After being amazed by the magnificence of a Brachiosaur that is walking past, Franklin gets the tracking system working, and Zia goes with Owen to get Blue.

Shockingly, our folks are double crossed by Wheatley and team, and Mills’s team snags as many dinos as possible to take to the Lockwood estate for a private auction to sell them to the highest bidder to do with them what they please.  The issue is that Dr. Henry Wu is still around, hanging out at the estate and has created another Frankenstein’s Monster style dinosaur – the IndoRaptor, combining the Indominus Rex from the previous movie with a velociraptor.  This ‘prototype’ gets loose, and all hell breaks loose.

Taking over from Colin Trevorrow, director J.A. Bayona comes from doing mostly horror movies before taking on this story. I have to say, I feel this was a mistake. The movie has more frightening and haunting images than previous installments, and there were many kids in my showing who seemed unhappy.  The scenes of the dinosaurs running in terror as the volcano explodes are not just horrifying, but traumatizing.  The scenes of dinosaurs about to die from poison gas in the Lockwood mansion are equally upsetting.  There are moments that his particular style works – for example, as a Baryonyx comes toward Claire and Franklin down a pipe, the flashes of light that reveal it moving ever closer are great.  

The ‘haunted mansion’ style cat and mouse scenes between the Indoraptor and the humans is also pretty good, but for me, there were just way too many scenes of animals in pain or peril – and yes, I know they’re not real. Which brings me to another positive mention – Industrial Light and Magic has one again outdone themselves on the dinosaurs. They look amazing. There are also some amazing animatronics in this piece, so they are not all CGI, and they are fantastic.  The human cast is equally as forgettable here as they were in the previous movie – not necessarily their fault, but the cast in the original is so iconic, it’s tough to live up to that lineage.
  • Chris Pratt plays Owen Grady, who is interrupted from building a house to go save Blue. Pratt is still incredibly likeable, especially when hand feeding baby raptors.

  • Bryce Dallas Howard plays Claire Dearing who gets to wear boots this time around.  Her character is trying to redeem her corporate greed sensibilities from the previous story to her new conservatism.

  • Rafe Spall plays Eli Mills, who oozes sleeze and untrustworthiness through the entire piece.  He cares nothing about the animals or the people helping them, he just wants to turn a profit.

  • Justice Smith plays Franklin Webb, who is there to punch buttons on a computer keyboard and scream in fear.

  • Daniella Pineda plays Zia Rodriguez, who is there to help save Blue when an idiot shoots her.

  • James Cromwell plays Benjamin Lockwood, right up until Mills has had enough of him.

  • Toby Jones plays Mr. Eversol the auctioneer.  He doesn’t much care what he’s auctioning off, even if it is capable of eating him.

  • Ted Levine plays Ken Wheatley, a military-type villain who is hired by Mills to help capture dinosaurs. He has a extra-villainy trademark of collecting teeth from the dinos he captures as trophies for a necklace, in case you didn’t already find him distasteful. His comeuppance is glorious.

  • Jeff Goldblum briefly appears as Dr. Ian Malcolm, who basically shows up to remind everyone that he was right about Chaos theory, and now everything is worse.

  • BD Wong returns as the sneaky god-playing villain Dr. Henry Wu – he’s still building dinosaurs, and compiling new creatures. He does hesitate when Mills attempts to sell his prototype Indoraptor, as it’s not “perfected” yet – but not out of kindness or empathy, mainly because he thinks it’s not yet ready.

  • Geraldine Chaplin plays Iris, the woman who is helping to raise Lockwood’s granddaughter.  She knows all the family secrets, but again – that doesn’t really come into play.

  • Isabella Sermon plays Maisie Lockwood, the granddaughter, because these movies always have to have kids in them for some reason.  Actually, her backstory was interesting, and could have used some more development, but there just wasn’t enough time for it.  Perhaps it will come up in the next movie?

And now on to the true stars of this movie, as with the last one;
  • The Baryonyx makes her first appearance, with her fish-eating crocodile-like snout.  She stalks Claire and Franklin down the aforementioned tunnel in a fantastic sequence, all while dealing with lava dripping from the ceiling. 

  • Stiggy the stygimoloch is given some feature time in this one as she helps Owen and Claire escape from a cage in the estate, and then tosses some auction attendees back and forth.

  • The Mosasaur returns, she features in the cold open as Wu’s team is looking for an I-Rex bone from the bottom of her lagoon.  Then of course, she gets out for that cameo you’ve seen in the trailers where she’s after the surfers. But that’s about all she gets.

  • Rexy returns, and again – this is the same Tyrannosaur from the original movie, so she’s got to be fed up with humans at this point, especially since in this one they tranquilize her after she helps save Owen and crew from a Carnotaurus.  She does get a hero shot at the end roaring at a lion.

  • The IndoRaptor is an interesting add, smaller than the I-Rex, but larger than a raptor, clever, vicious, and hunting based on laser and audio triggers.  He’s got a brilliant yellow stripe down his side, and I will say that I really did like the final sequence of him chasing the folks through the house, and then battling Blue.

  • Blue is again the best character in the movie, and this one gives her even more backstory as it reveals how Owen trained her as a baby, how she grew to lead the group of raptors, and how she developed empathy. 

  • Owen does ask her to come with him at the end (spoiler alert, she makes it through okay –thank goodness, I could not have handled her not making it!), but she decides she’s been caged enough, and heads off to her next adventure – which seems to be ruling over a small California town.

Trevorrow wrote some of this one, working with Bayona and stated that this movie is “really is about the ethical treatment of animals in the world and our responsibility to the living creatures that we share the planet with, alongside our responsibilities to the planet itself.”  An interesting take, which makes the scenes where the dinosaurs are in mortal peril even worse.  This movie is absolutely missing the sense of fun that most of the other movies in the franchise have had. There are scenes that are downright disturbing, and the comic moments feel odd in a story that is so dark. It’s not nearly as kid-friendly as some of the others.  Again, the dinosaurs look amazing, which just makes anything bad that happens to them harder to take: the volcanic explosion, the capturing, the torturing, the selling, and the gassing. Overall, there were parts that were interesting, some scenes that were great – but there was so much in between that was hard to watch, it tainted the whole movie.

5 out of 10 – I really wanted to love it, and I couldn’t - but I did love the dinosaurs.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Movie Review: Tag (R – 100 minutes)

Tag is a movie based on an article in the Wall Street Journal about a group of ten friends, now in their fifties, who spend the month of May every year playing Tag – regardless of where they are or how old they get. The game has functioned as a unifier for their friendship, keeping them in each other’s lives, no matter the distance between them.

The movie version shrinks the group down to five members: Hogan Malloy, Bob Callahan, Randy Cilliano, Kevin Sable, and Jerry Pierce.  The Story starts with Hogan, who gets a job with Bob’s company as a janitor so that he can get close enough to tag him, interrupting an interview Bob is giving to a Wall Street Journal reporter, Rebecca Crosby.  Once Callahan is ‘it’, they head to get Randy.  Rebecca insists on coming with them, realizing the child’s game they are playing as adults is a much better story than the story she was originally planning on writing.  

Together, Bob and Hogan (with the assistance of Hogan’s wife Anna) get “Chilli” and he becomes it.  The three go to get Sable, tagging him so that he is it.  United, the four friends head back to their childhood home to get Jerry, who has never been ‘it’ for the last thirty years.  Hogan tells the others they will have to work together to tag Jerry who is thinking of retiring undefeated and that his wedding will be the perfect opportunity.

Jerry has, of course, realized that they would be coming for him, prepped his bride-to-be for the occasion and set a plan in motion to ensure he will never be tagged.  They set up an addendum to their rules (yes, there are rules) to ensure that they will not ‘ruin’ the wedding, but are allowed to attempt to get Jerry in the time before the wedding.  Jerry also puts plans in place to confuse and misdirect the group to maintain his tagless streak.  Hijinks ensue.
Directed by Jeff Tomsic, who has directed mostly comedy specials and TV shows to date, the movie is definitely funny, but also surprisingly touching and genuine in parts. This game really does keep this group of friends together through the years and they do realize how special that is.  The tag sequences are directed like action movie sequences which really heightens the hilarity.  There are some plot points that are brought up and never appear again, or never follow through, but not enough to be distracting. For a movie that originally was going to feature Will Ferrell and Jack Black, the cast that is in the movie is fantastic.
  • Ed Helms plays Hogan ‘Hoagie’ Malloy and serves as the heart and soul of the group.  He’s the one pulling them together, and at the end of the movie, reveals why this year’s game is so important to him. He’s perfect in this role that can vary from completely zany to genuine very quickly – something right in Helms’s wheelhouse.

  • Jon Hamm plays Bob Callahan, who is very arrogant and confident, something very much in Hamm’s wheelhouse. Bob is full of himself, but does realize how important his friends are.

  • Jake Johnson plays Randy ‘Chilli’ Cilliano, a stoner who has gotten divorced and lives with his father, randomly played by Brian Dennehy for apparently no reason whatsoever as he never shows up again.  Chilli is the most annoying of the friends to me, but he does add to the comedy.

  • Hannibal Buress brings his trademark dry hilarity to Kevin Sable, committed to his friends and the game.  He has some really funny one-liners and ridiculous action sequences.

  • Jeremy Renner plays Jerry Pierce, and Renner really excels at this type of comedy - playing the intimidating ‘straight man’ surrounded by others who can take the comedy a little more broad.  He gets to use his action skills in the tag sequences, so much so that he managed to break both arms while shooting a stunt, and then returned 2 hours later to continue shooting.

  • Annabelle Wallis plays the reporter Rebecca Crosby who gets sucked into the story and ends up really caught up in the ability that these men have to stay connected through this game. I do appreciate that they did not end up forcing her character into a romantic entanglement with any of the characters.

  • Isla Fisher plays Anna Malloy, Hogan’s wife who is very competitive in terms of the game, willing to do almost anything to help her husband win or advance his strategies.

  • Nora Dunn plays Hogan’s mother, and she has a very weird sub-plot where she flirts with Chilli. It was unnecessary and never paid off, which I suppose I am grateful for.
  • Steve Berg plays Lou Seibert, a childhood friend of the group who wants to be included in the game, but has to make do with helping out with information.
  • Leslie Bibb plays Susan Rollins – Jerry’s fiancĂ©e, who is aware of the game, and wants to ensure that it will not interfere with her wedding.

  • Rashida Jones plays a childhood crush of both Bob and Chilli who Jerry calls and invites to the wedding for the express reason of throwing off Bob and Chilli – which is very successful.

Overall, the movie is hilarious, which I was expecting, but it also has some really touching moments, which I was not expecting. The best part is getting to see some footage of the real guys playing the game over the end credits, along with the cast singing Crash Test Dummies MMMMM song – for no reason.  The movie is rated R, for language – which I think could have been cleaned up for a PG13 rating, there’s not much else in it aside from a lot of “dude-bro” humor – which can get gross and tiresome. Slight spoiler alert here - there is one thing I really did not like, and that was Susan faking a medical condition to get Jerry out of a spot with the guys.  That was a step too far in my opinion, and could have been achieved with some other type of plotting.  It wasn’t enough to sour me on the whole movie, but I really did not like that scene. She does get called out by the other characters for taking it too far, so the movie thinks it excuses itself that way.  Still, the movie is really entertaining, check it out – I think you’ll enjoy it.

7 out of 10 – one of the best comedies I have seen this year, just in front of Game Night.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Movie Review: Hotel Artemis (R – 93 minutes)

Technically, Hotel Artemis is a “dystopian neo-noir crime film”.  In a summer filled with reboots and sequels, it is an original story with that wants to be a slick crime action thriller. 

The story picks up in Los Angeles in 2028 during a “water riot”.  Apparently, the water supply has been privatized, and the company that owns it has turned it off.  Desperate, the people have started to riot through the city, picking up steam and power until they will arrive at the building of the water company.  The Hotel Artemis is a secret hospital for criminals that is run by Nurse Jean Thomas with the assistance of Everest.  It seems that the Artemis is one in a series of secret hotels like this – in which criminal sbuy membership so that when they are hurt during a ‘job’, they can go to the Artemis for assistance with no questions asked.

As the riots move through the city, two brothers injured in a bank robbery head to the Artemis, but not before one of them grabbed what seemed to be a fancy pen from a man preparing to deposit it in the bank.  They head to the Artemis to get treatment, where members are given code names based on the room they are staying in.  The brothers are Waikiki and Honolulu.  Honolulu needs a new liver, and the Nurse prints one on a 3D printer, and gets it installed.  Waikiki has to wait for the integration to finish up before moving on.  Also in the hotel are Nice – a deadly assassin who seems to share a past with Waikiki; and Acapulco, a really annoying Charlie Day-type arms dealer. Nice seems to have ulterior motives, but she does let Waikiki know that the fancy pen his brother stole is actually a portable vault containing diamonds owned by the “Wolf King”, the crime lord boss of Los Angeles, and the owner of the Artemis.  The thing is, once you steal from the Wolf King, he drowns you in the ocean. 

Sure enough, the riots get closer and more dangerous, and the Wolf King is on his way to the Artemis, having been wounded.  An injured cop starts banging on the door to be let in for help. Waikiki is wondering how to get his brother out instead of drowned, Nice is putting a plan together, Acapulco seems to be there to irritate everyone, the Nurse has to deal with some residual trauma from losing her son years ago, and Everest is just trying to keep things together and keep everyone following the rules.  The Artemis may not make it through the night.

The story is slick and unique with some really great potential.  The tone is a little uneven here and there because the movie wants to be an over-the-top action thriller with an almost 'graphic-novel' stylization to it but some pieces don't quite fit that idea. There are a couple of things that are set up, but that are not delivered on, and are never brought back. Written and directed by Drew Pearce, this is his feature directing debut.  He does a good job with the action and the characters are all interesting. Once the large final action piece starts up, the last half hour of the movie is massive fights and action set pieces. The cast is the strongest part of the movie.
  • Jodie Foster stars as the Nurse, and honestly, I could have used a little less of her in the movie. I can't tell if that's because I don't like Jodie Foster or I didn't like this character. Also, not entirely sure why she's aged up. She could have just looked like she normally does. I know it’s about her struggling to overcome her crippling agoraphobia that kicked in when her son died, but she seems to be playing the role far more somber than everyone else in the movie. Everyone else seems to embrace how the movie teeters right on the edge of silly, and she avoids that - which does work for the character, so I suppose it's a good choice on her part.

  • Dave Bautista plays Everest, and gets some of the best lines in the movie as he struggles to keep everyone in line with the rules but also get the Nurse what she needs.

  • Sterling K. Brown is really charismatic as Waikiki, a man trapped in a life of crime due to his love for his brother.  He manages to be incredibly likeable, as well as a capable lead for the movie.  Brian Tyree Henry seems to be everywhere these days and here he plays Honolulu, a criminal who just keeps bringing his brother down.

  • Sofia Boutella plays Nice, and once she kicks her plan into gear, she is almost unstoppable.  She is really good at this type of role, and she’s getting better at the slow parts.

  • Jeff Goldblum plays the Wolf King, who is really just Jeff Goldblum running a crime syndicate. He’s very entertaining while dealing with both his underlings and the Nurse.  He also manages to have just the right amount of creepy undertones as someone who is used to getting their way.

  • Jenny Slate plays the cop, Morgan, who suddenly shows up at the door asking for Mrs. Thomas.  Her role has little to do with the story, but much to do with the Nurse’s character development.
  • Zachary Quinto plays Crosby, the wolf king’s son.  He’s belligerent and intolerable, just wanting to impress his father.

  • Charlie Day plays Acapulco, and he’s completely irritating in this movie – harassing Nice and trying to pick a fight with Waikiki, then demanding a helicopter to get out of the hotel.

Overall, the movie is fun, action packed, and entertaining. Some of the backstory is a little heavy-handed, but overall, I enjoyed it. It definitely ends with the possibility of a sequel, set at the Hotel Apache in Las Vegas – one can only assume it has the same type of setup.

6 out of 10 – entertaining enough.  Gained points for Dave Bautista being an awesome “health care professional”.

Bonus – every time someone referred to Charlie Day’s character, I couldn’t help but think of Acapulco Heat.

On Kelly Marie Tran's awesomeness

Re-posting this rant I posted on my Facebook page. 

Warning - rant ahead.
Kelly Marie Tran, the lovely and amazing actress who played Rose Tico in The Last Jedi, has reportedly had to delete some of her social media accounts after receiving hateful and attacking comments from those who 'hate her character' and 'think she ruined Star Wars'. Daisey Ridley did the same last year. This sickens me on many levels - but in a very personal way, sickens me because these idiots threatening her are the loudest, and so get the most attention - causing some to think the entire Star Wars fandom is like that.
We are not.
There are many of us my age (and older), who grew up loving the original trilogy and the countless books, games, graphic novels, etc. that formed the Expanded Universe. At the time (the 80s), many of us were bullied and picked on for liking something viewed as "nerdy", "geeky", or "non-mainstream" (this happened to fans of any genre entertainment at the time - for example, Trekkers can relate). The bullying was especially harsh for girls (how many times did I hear, "You can't like Star Wars - it's not for girls"), and even more predominant for girls of color. Growing up through those experiences and clinging to these stories that we loved made them very personal for us.
The prequels built on the story, and elicited some hatred, but the difference between that hatred and the current round is social media. For most of us (I repeat, MOST of us, please know that the loud idiots do not represent us), we understand that it's hard to let go of this thing that we were bullied for loving, and accept that it is now something globally and widely loved. it's not just ours anymore - and we understand that is a good thing. Why wouldn't we want more movies and stories?! Even if they're not our cup of tea, more of the thing we love is not a bad notion.
However, there are some that are unable to let go - and who feel that they have some ownership on this universe. Unfortunately, they also have internet access and get loud on the social medias. The best thing to do is ignore them - negativity doesn't help anyone - if you didn't like the latest movie, that's fine, and sure, you can share your opinion - as an opinion, not as fact - and without directing a personal attack on any of the folks who made the movie. You can say you didn't like it, and move on - it is just a movie, after all. Attacking an actor or director and saying hateful things to them online thanks to the anonymity of the internet makes you a coward and is inexcusable.
And oh yes, let's not forget that the loudest of these complainers are white men who cannot handle the fact that many of the leads of these new movies are female and people of color. Ahem - one more time for the racists in the back: SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP. RACISTS ARE NOT WELCOME - EVER - AND YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED.
Racism and sexism are never acceptable. Just because our favorite fantasy universe is now reflecting a wider array of folks, doesn't mean it's any less for you, it's just now for everyone, and honestly that's the part that pisses them off.
I personally loved Kelly's character, Rose, and while her side-quest in the movie felt a little unnecessary, I loved what she brought to the performance - which was pure exuberance!  I read something today that Rose's character in the movie was essentially a 'fanboy' that had to grow up quickly and shift her worldview - something that caused some upset because it hit a little close to home for these few toxic individuals. An interesting take that I had not thought of before. Also - I can't help but think of her last line - we will win not by destroying what we hate, but saving what we love. 

Personally, I still love Star Wars, and I really love that it's become more diverse, widely accepted, and more inclusive.
Nothing makes me happier than seeing a little girl who is super into Star Wars. Even if I don't care for some of the new movies (sidenote, even the new movies I didn't care for - I still really liked). Also - I love Kelly Marie Tran, and wish her the best.
MTFBWY, Always.
Rant over, you can return to your regularly scheduled scrolling.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Movie Review: Solo A Star Wars Story (PG13 – 135 minutes)

If you would like to listen to myself and fellow LAMB members break down this movie – twice – check out the LAMBCast review of Solo, both of them!
Solo is the first truly stand-alone Star Wars movie to be released.  Previously, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, was actually more of an episode – episode 3.85.  In this case, Solo takes place shortly after episode 3, long before the events of Rogue One.

We are introduced to a young Han as he and his lady friend Qi’ra are ‘scumrats’ on Corellia. It’s a shipbuilding planet, loyal to the empire, but run by various crime syndicates and the crime bosses that work for them.  Han and Qi’ra are working for Lady Proxima, but Han has just successfully stole a bit of refined Coaxium (which seems to be hyperfuel that is much in demand).  He stages an attack on Lady Proxima, and the two of them take off, attempting to bribe their way off the planet with the Coaxium.  Han makes it through, Qi’ra does not.  She tells him to run, he joins the Imperial Navy in the hopes of getting off-world, getting a ship, and coming back to Corellia to rescue Qi’ra. 

We cut to three years later, where Han has been busted down to infantry and he and his company are on some muddy planet attempting to take a ridge from an enemy when Han encounters a group of thieves/scoundrels attempting to steal a ship.  He tries to join them, but ends up thrown in a pit and meeting Chewbacca.  Eventually he joins a crew, and I’m going to tell you their plan, because it’s a little complicated and I think it bears explaining.  Tobais Beckett and his wife Val, along with their friend Rio, steal an imperial ship because they need it to steal a case of Coaxium from a train to take to Dryden Vos of the Crimson Dawn Crime Syndicate.

That part makes sense, but the heist goes all wrong thanks to the interference of Enfys Nest and her Skyriders.  Without the payload, Han, Chewie and Beckett go to Vos, learn Qi’ra is working for him, and decide to run another heist in an attempt to bargain for their lives from Vos.  To do this, they need more Coaxium. It turns out there’s an unrefined stash under the spice mines of Kessel. Once you grab it, you need to get it refined before it explodes. To do that, you have to get it from Kessel to a refinery on Savereen.  To do that, you need a really fast ship to do the Kessel Run, and to do that, they need Lando Calrissian and the Millenium Falcon.

By now, you’ve heard that the reviews of this aren’t that great, but let me tell you – I really enjoyed it. The movie is directed by Ron Howard, even though it was originally supposed to be directed by Lord & Miller from the Lego Movie.  Apparently their take was just a little too slap-sticky, and not quite what was right for the character, so Ron Howard came in to finish it up, and I for one am really glad that he did.  The movie is super fun, and plenty entertaining.  It feels very much like a space-western, and the cast was wonderful.
  • Alden Ehrenreich does a great job of playing a young Han Solo, and not trying to be a young Harrison Ford.  It’s a tough task, and I think he does a good job.

  • Joonas Suotamo plays Chewbacca, and one of the great thrills of this movie is seeing Chewie and Han meet, and begin what will become one of the epic friendships in the galaxy.  It’s also great to see a younger actor in the suit who is a little more action-capable.

  • Woody Harrelson plays Beckett, a very Woody Harrelson-type scoundrel with fancy blaster skills and a ‘don’t trust anybody’ attitude.  He doesn’t spend much time mourning his losses on the first job before jumping into the second, but I did enjoy his character. Thandie Newton plays Val Beckett – she also doesn’t trust anyone, and is convinced they do not need any help on their job.

    • Jon Favreau provides the voice for Rio Durant, the third member of the Beckett crew.  He’s fun and entertaining, and all CGI.

    • Emilia Clarke plays Qi’Ra, and she gets more interesting as the movie goes on.  Once Han finds her again, she keeps telling him that he doesn’t know her anymore, and has no idea what she’s capable of.  I also look forward to seeing more scenes with her new boss, because I love that character.

    • Donald Glover is easily one of the best pieces of this movie. In his first appearance he sounds and feels like a young Billy Dee Williams, he’s all slick charm, and it’s very easy to see how he will become the Lando we all know.

    • Paul Bettany plays Dryden Vos, and he goes from charming and compassionate in one scene to merciless and threatening in the next. For a character that was originally motion capture Michael K. Williams, this is still pretty great.

    • Pheobe Waller-Bridge provides the motion capture for Lando’s droid L3-37.  She has a bizarre droids-rights side plot that sort of helps to advance the plot, but is a bit annoying.
    • Erin Kellyman plays Enfys Nest, she and her band of Skyriders are great and terrifying.

    • Linda Hunt does the voice for the Lady Proxima puppet.

    Overall, it’s not perfect.  There are a couple of character moments that made no sense (Lando would not care that much about a droid, and Han would have chosen his own name), but the action set pieces are fantastic. There are a lot of practical effects – Lady Proxima in particular is amazing, and the aliens around the card tables are spectacular. Lando is fantastic, his droid is annoying, but the best parts are anything with Han and Chewie.  It’s what you wanted to see in this movie, and honestly, I really hope they get to make another one, because I just want to see Han and Chewie have more adventures.

    8 out of 10 – go see it with no expectations, you’ll enjoy it.