Ep. 115 – Solo: A Star Wars Story

May 29, 2018 by  
Filed under Podcast

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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod travel to a galaxy far, far away to review Lord and Miller’s Ron Howard’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

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Solo: A Star Wars Story

May 22, 2018 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Adlen Eherenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke
Directed by: Ron Howard (“Apollo 13,” “A Beautiful Mind”)
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan (“The Empire Strikes Back,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark”) and Jonathan Kasdan (“In the Land of Women”)

As Disney and Lucasfilm turn the Star Wars IP into a “new movie every year” cash cow, the companies seem to be stuck in a regressive loop, constantly revisiting characters and concepts that strike an immediate note of familiarity. Maybe that’s why we keep getting the Death Star or Death Star stand-ins. “The Last Jedi” excluded, Star Wars has played it safe since its resurrection from the much-maligned prequel era, which has weirdly included crafting two more prequels: 2016’s “Rogue One” and now “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” The new film is an origin story of sorts for the charming, rascally smuggler made iconic by Harrison Ford, which, despite some fun moments and an interesting dose of fan service, proves to be entirely unnecessary.

Opening in the dingy underground of the planet Corellia, our hero Han (Alden Eherenreich) lives an “Oliver Twist”-ian lifestyle, owned by the Fagin-ish worm Lady Proxima, who Han betrays after he’s sent to steal some valuable hyperfuel known as coaxium. With his love interest Qi’ra (Emila Clarke), Han looks to escape his home planet and buy a ship for the two of them with the stolen coaxium. But when Qi’ra is captured at the spaceport, Han is forced to join the Imperial Army to escape, where he’s given the last name “Solo” in a rather meh-worthy joke. In a war zone three years later, Solo meets Beckett (Woody Harrelson) a smuggler who’s looking to boost some coaxium for gangster Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany). With his newly-liberated Wookiee sidekick Chewbacca in tow, Han joins Beckett’s crew and begins his life as an outlaw.

Even as a famously troubled production—original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired and replaced with Ron Howard—“Solo” has a few things going for it, namely a grimy, lived-in palette with some inspired cinematography and Donald Glover’s Lando Calrissian. Glover brings his natural charisma and charm to the role made famous by Billy Dee Williams. Eherenreich, though, not so much. While his Han Solo isn’t as bad as you’ve feared, it also isn’t really that good, and it’s definitely missing the spark Ford brought to the character. There are some decent moments, like the first meeting of Chewbacca and Han, butted up against ideas that feel half-formed, like an early movie heist perpetrated with a crew clearly inspired by “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but who get sent off without so much as a moment to mourn when things go south. And you want fan service? You’ve got fan service, mostly in the form of a late movie cameo that might leave you scratching your head if you haven’t watched any of the canonical Star Wars cartoon series. Who, come to think of it, reminds me of this movie: two things, a prequel and an origin story, sewn together to make a whole thing that’s familiar, but not anywhere near new.

Terminator Genisys

July 3, 2015 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney
Directed by: Alan Taylor (“Thor: The Dark World”)
Written by: Laeta Kalogridis (“Shutter Island”) and Patrick Lussier (“Drive Angry”)

Nearly a quarter century after James Cameron gave us “Terminator 2: Judgement Day,” Hollywood is still throwing Terminator franchise-extending ideas at the wall hoping that they stick. Sequels, TV series, and whatever the hell “Terminator Salvation” was supposed to be have come and gone, seemingly wringing the movie going public’s goodwill dry in the process. After all, how can we be expected to stay invested in this series when it features an ever-rotating cast and keeps using time travel to re-write its own continuity with every new project? Regardless, along comes “Terminator Genisys” with one ace up its sleeve the franchise hasn’t had for 12 years: the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s good to see Arnold in his iconic role once again, especially since he’s the only positive thing “Genisys” has going for it.

For what seems like the millionth time, this “Terminator” movie opens in the post-apocalyptic future, after world-destroying computer program Skynet has decided to wipe humans off the face of the earth. The human resistance, led by thinly-veiled messianic character John Connor (Jason Clarke), has identified the last stronghold of Skynet and its army of Terminators—one that houses an ultimate weapon. Along with his right hand man Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), Connor and the resistance infiltrate the base to find a freshly-used time machine. Figuring out Skynet send a Terminator back to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), Reese volunteers to go back to the past and save her. As he’s being transported away, he catches a glimpse of a Terminator attacking John Connor…or something. Unable to help, Reese arrives in 1984 to relive the events of “The Terminator” (complete with CGI young Schwarzenegger!) only to be interrupted by an aged T-800 Arnold (nicknamed Pops) and a Sarah Connor already well-versed in kicking Terminator ass. Someone changed the timeline even further back, and now it’s time for Sarah, Reese, and Pops to sort all the bullshit out.

While the first two films in the series focused on fate—or the lack thereof—the time travel elements always made little sense within the logic of the movies’ universe. That plot device ridiculousness is ramped up to ridiculous heights in “Genisys,” where time travel is regarded as an ultimate weapon (okay), a 20-something woman and her aged robot from the future can build a time machine in the LA sewers (what?) and one of the main characters from a future that no longer exists can travel to a tangential past and then back to a different future to stop something from existing that didn’t create the future that he’s from, but creates yet a different apocalyptic future than the seemingly endless versions this series has spat at us over the years (ugh, fuck it). The movie also seems to have some half-assed nonsense to say about stuff like smartphones and tablets and whatnot ruling our lives, but it’s all so poorly plotted out that literally none of the plot is engaging. The same can’t be said of Arnold, though, who becomes the only thing onscreen to elicit even the slightest bit of interest. With some liberal CGI, Arnold appears as three different versions of the iconic T-800, and its admittedly pretty fun when the old man version dukes it out with the 1984 version.  But the computer-enhanced exploits of a 67-year-old former governor aren’t enough to balance out the sheer “who the fuck cares?” of everything else haphazardly thrown on the screen.

Dom Hemingway

April 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir
Directed by: Richard Shepard (“The Matador”)
Written by: Richard Shepard (“The Matador”)

Opening the film with a 5-minute soliloquy about how “exquisite” a specific part of his anatomy is, two-time Oscar nominated actor Jude Law (“The Talented Mr. Ripley”) paints the perfect portrait of his title character in “Dom Hemingway,” a prickly dark comedy that gives Law an opportunity to display his full range and take on a personality that would easily have swallowed up a less talented actor.

Doing what he did for Pierce Brosnan in his 2005 film “The Matador,” director Richard Shepard roughs up the edges of his lead actor and gives Law plenty of ammunition to bring the vulgar, vain and oftentimes livid Dom to life. Why is Dom like this, you ask? Dom just wants what he is owed. After spending 12 years in prison, a sentence that would’ve probably been reduced had he ratted out his boss Mr. Fontaine (Demian Bichir), Dom, a professional safecracker, is ready to collect. Reconnecting with his old crime partner Dickey (Richard E. Grant), Dom’s plans are wrecked after a near-death experience, which spurs Dom to seek out his estranged daughter Evelyn (Emilia Clarke) and make amends.

Ripped from the pages of a screenplay like 1996’s “Trainspotting,” 1998’s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” or 2000’s “Snatch,” the character of Dom Hemingway is one we’ve seen before and might even be considered cliché to some who have had their fill of sly, Guy Ritchie-esque UK criminals. But this is Law’s show and he does enough with Shepard’s dialogue-driven script to keep things interesting for the players even though storyline about fathers and daughters is lost in all the shady, backroom dealings. Shepard’s narrative loses steam when Dom and his big mouth aren’t front and center, but the Dom in “Dom Hemingway” is far too big of a character to pass over. It’s one of Law’s best performances of his career.