Originally helmed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the directing duo were dismissed from the project four months into production after major creative differences with Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy. Disney were left with a cluttered mess of Han Solo shaped fragments in their hands but no director to piece it together until Apollo 13 director Ron Howard swooped in to save the day. From the behind the scenes drama to the seemingly lacklustre marketing campaign - as well following the widely hated The Last Jedi - this is a rare Star Wars film that hasn't really grabbed anyone's attention. Solo tells the origin story of intergalactic outlaw Han Solo, how he came to meet legendary co-pilot Chewbacca and their thrilling adventure amongst the murky criminal underworld.
Kicking into hyperdrive at the flick of a switch, Solo is a fabulously fun sidestep from the usual Star Wars conventions. The biggest concern with this four decade long franchise is over saturation and arguably that Solo is unnecessary, it isn't exactly the Star Wars movie anyone needed nor the one anyone asked for. Nonetheless by extraordinary revelation Solo: A Star Wars Story offers a high speed Han and Chewie adventure that screams nostalgia whilst simultaneously requiring little pre existing fan knowledge; this time around lightsabers and the Death Star are replaced by blasters and drag racing.
What works quite magnificently about Solo is its ability to challenge people's perception of Star Wars. Dividing fans with The Last Jedi, LucasFilm have done the same again in a different, equally original way with this intergalactic wild west style heist movie. The film brings a distinctive, edgier quality that deliberately overlooks the gleaming polished space sets of the past - crucially this not only enables Solo to be a product of its own but symbolises the rough around the edges style of its protagonist.
Alden Ehrenreich is worthy of the blaster, dice and Captain's chair of the Millennium Falcon. His excellent take on Han Solo captures the charm and charisma the character is so famous for. Importantly, Ehrenreich doesn't play Harrison Ford - he brings his own nuance and style to expand on the legacy of the character we already know and love. His energetic performance imagines Han Solo with the get up and go attitude the legend demands. As someone who was never originally a fan of the character, Solo - along with help from Ehrenreich - proves why the cheeky outlaw is as fantastic as people think.
Solo is very different from what the majority of people are saying about it. Similar to Ready Player One - Solo is admittedly less ambitious than The Last Jedi, offering a zippy, fast paced intergalactic caper. There is not a single mention of The Force and very little emphasis on The Empire, Howard delves into the shady world of the space gangster crime ring. Though the story is reasonably straight forward, Solo has consistently funny and charming moments that play as a light and refreshing pallet cleanser from the usual Skywalker stuff. Still maintaining the Star Wars magic, John Williams' score and the electrifying Millennium Falcon theme sounds even more special than its ever been now we experience where it all began.
Whilst the force is definitely strong with this one, Solo is a wonderful but distinct variation in the epic Sci-Fi series. No doubt this would present tremendous issues for hardcore fans of the episodic format, but in my opinion the quality of the Star Wars universe is strengthening by each film they release, with Solo yet another marvellous example. Ehrenreich is some of the finest casting mainstream Hollywood has seen since Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman, as well as Donald Glover's fabulously smooth take on Lando Calrissian. Charming, funny, exciting and action packed - Solo is a Millennium Falcon adventure full of fun.
Solo: A Star Wars Story
Quite an extraordinary two years have passed since the foul mouthed, fourth wall breaking Deadpool disgraced our screens. Having taken the world by storm first time around, Tim Miller hands the directorial baton to John Wick and Atomic Blonde director David Leitch with Ryan Reynolds maintaining a healthy portion of creative control. In this outing Deadpool assembles an unlikely team of mutants to protect young Russell - a boy with pyrokinetic powers - who is being ruthlessly hunted by the brutal, time travelling Cable.
The Meta Merc with a mouth returns in a sword swinging, Dolly Parton playing sequel that proves bigger isn't always better. Featuring a significantly larger budget than the original, Deadpool 2 takes two steps forward in its action and visual effects departments but three, four maybe even five steps back in many others. For hard core fans it probably delivers everything you would want from a Deadpool film, but personally I don't find it as fresh or fun as its predecessor.
Automatically, just by being a known quantity Deadpool 2 looses that original gut punching, wallop the first film delivered. In many ways it draws similarities to Guardians of the Galaxy - the original was a joyful surprise hit but Vol 2 was a lot stodgier and lacked the whimsical charm of the first. Deadpool 2 is very much the same - it struggles to replicate what made the original so unique; even the fourth wall breaking seems less refreshing than it did two years ago. It aims for shock and awe and this quickly becomes very tiring.
Deadpool 2 boasts a new team of fantastic second string X-men that have engaging characters, but most importantly fit perfectly into this unconventional universe. Where the first film captured Deadpool as a lonely vigilante, a self proclaimed one man show, Deadpool 2 presents the wise cracking Wade Wilson very much as a team player. Colossus returns with a fantastic metal punch as well as Negasonic Teenage Warhead who's moody persona still works a charm. As you may expect the new faces are certainly a magnificent addition. Zazie Beetz steals the show as Domino - who's seemingly un-cinematic mutant power of luck - amazes with her exhilarating sequence of final destination type deaths. Not to mention Josh Broiln, who hot off the heals of Avengers: Infinity War makes a fantastic debut as time travelling warrior Cable. With Sicario 2 still left in the bag this man promises to dominate the summer movie season.
Where the original told a love story Deadpool 2 is a film all about family, but don't be misled - it's still a strong 15 certificate. Leitch attempts to make Deadpool more than just a croc wearing, gun slinging killer; through the involvement of the X-men and girlfriend Vanessa Deadpool 2 has more heart than you would expect. Something tragic happens in the beginning of the film that leads Deadpool on a moral journey - but this plot device is overused and feels very out of place, it simply doesn't gel with the rest of the film. As this happens early on this affects the entire film and throws everything off balance making the structure feel far less focussed and pacy than the original. It's the Terminator 2 spoof story line that best works here and not the family drama elements.
Deadpool 2 proves that a large aspect of what made the original so fantastic was the surprise factor. All the elements from the original are in place but they seem far less exciting or refreshing as they once were. Reynolds dedication truly brings this character and his world to life but Deapool 2 is a lot messier and scattershot than you would have hoped. Domino and Cable are easy stand outs, as well as the new X-force, and if that means we see more of them the next time maybe a second sequel isn't so bad after all.
Melissa McCarthy may be one of the funniest women working in Hollywood today, however neither of her recent pics have lived up to the sky high comedic standard of Spy and Bridesmaids. Ben Falcone, real life husband of McCarthy, returns to direct Life of the Party following the offensively bad Tammy and mind-numbingly awful The Boss - but will he complete the hat trick of truly abysmal McCarthy comedies? Following her husband's abrupt request for divorce, middle aged mum Diane decides to enrol back in college to complete her Archeology degree.
Though it's neither profound nor memorable Life of the Party is a surprisingly hilarious college comedy that offers a glimpse of the more family friendly side of McCarthy. If you ask whether it is as bad as either Tammy or The Boss? The answer is most certainly no - in fact Life of the Party, though flawed, is a far better break for director Falcone. It definitely won't stand the test of time but for the most part Life of the Party is a pleasant couple of hours spent at the pictures.
Here we see Diane, a forty something mother who gave up everything to fulfil her mothering duties - following her abrupt divorce it's her time to do something for her own satisfaction and fulfilment. Through an almost Disney channel friendly tone Life of the Party proves McCarthy can be hilarious when not playing the foul-mouthed know it all for which many of her pictures are known best for. Diane is sweet and endearing and through her time at college learns to be a little more free spirited - less so in a raunchy, offensive way but more as an old dog with new tricks - ultimately Diane's character is way more empathetic than some of McCarthy's formidable predecessors.
This strange and unexpected family friendly tone is often the best but also worst part of the film. It feels as if Falcone begins to delve into the 15 certificate territory but suddenly pulls out at the last second with Life of the Party seeming to play it a little too safe. I'm certain this is a studio strategy as a 15 certificate could deter many young girls and their mothers from seeing this comedy flick, however too often it feels as if the jokes - though funny if not hilarious - sometimes rely heavily of conventional comedy beats such as slapstick or innuendo. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as ultimately it works, Life of the Party is worth a ticket however it's still not up to the standard of McCarthy's previous better 15 certificate comedies.
There is certainly more to comedy than sex gags and Life of the Party is one of the few McCarthy comedies to prove so. The lighter jokes exchanged for the ruder ones are admittedly very amusing however if the film were just a little more, dare I say it, riskier in its screenplay then perhaps Life of the Party would pack a little more of a punch than it does. At the end of the day Falcone has made a comedy that is light, disposable but also pleasant and harmless - with McCarthy back at the books Life of the Party is just about saved by the bell.
Life of the Party:
Amy Schumer, the Queen of Controversy, is best known for her raunchy style of comedy. Back in 2015 she made a breakthrough with her loosely self based comedy/drama Trainwreck alongside Bill Hader. Following her truly terrible mother/daughter buddy com Snatched last year, Schumer attempts another assault on Hollywood with body positive I Feel Pretty. Renne struggles with insecurity about her body and dreams of being "beautiful". After hitting her head against a cycling machine she wakes up believing she is the most gorgeous and confident girl in the world - enabling her to take on the world, making bold life choices and doing things she's only ever dreamed of.
Schumer's plus sized picture has its heart in the right place but over emphasises what it means to be of a bigger build. I Feel Pretty attempts to recreate the vibe of the frequently referenced 1988 classic Big, but lacks the cinema magic and the scriptwriting ability to do so. Sadly the writers give us no common ground between plus size and size zero - the film hints at portraying how bigger women are treated in society, yet here we see anyone with a fuller frame depicted as clumsy, frumpy, embarrassing and incapable - but at the other end of the spectrum skinny girls are presented as fashionable and glamorous but rude and spiteful.
I Feel Pretty feels like it should be a story of self confidence, telling us that true beauty is found from within - yet frustratingly this message is never truly delivered. The production team hammer home that bigger people are mistreated in society and use extreme and unrealistic social situations to illustrate so, resulting in negative plus sized propaganda, rather than a positive and empowering film about larger body confidence and fulfilment.
Whilst Schumer comically bashing her head on a cycling machine to give her self confidence is the device used to craft the film, both I Feel Pretty and Schumer can't help but seem a little too delusion. Renne's charming self assurance is nothing short of admirable but it doesn't seem right that she should have to bump her head to realise she is as a capable as any other girl.
I Feel Pretty would've been a roaring success if it abandoned this idea of self delusion and told the story of how one larger girl had the charm, charisma and confidence to work her way up in the world against a typically skinnier workplace. Promoting equality for all women in the makeup and fashion industry would have been a far better if not fantastic concept for Schumer to re-establish herself and prove that anyone of any size can do anything.
Ultimately Schumer's charm and bubbly personality are certainly endearing, however it isn't enough to lift this inaccurate and surprisingly not feel good film to any decent level. It feels empty - lacking any form of story development, and sorely misses a comedic tone that simply isn't there. I would be wrong in saying the film isn't well intentioned, however I Feel Pretty is really - ironically - rather shallow.
I Feel Pretty:
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.