Posts Tagged ‘Donald Glover’

Origins of an Intergalactic Smuggler

Solo: a Star Wars Story

Director: Ron Howard

Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Paul Bettany, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Erin Kellyman, Jon Favreau, Linda Hunt

I have to confess I am a huge Star Wars fan. Ever since the first trilogy I saw when I was a kid, I have been hooked.

Well, when rumours circulated in the film trade press that there was going to be an origins story for Han Solo – it certainly piqued my curiosity. The casting was superb. The boyish charm of Alden Ehrenreich last seen in Warren Beatty’s Rules Don’t Apply is perfectly cast as the Young Han Solo, a role made famous by the Hollywood star Harrison Ford.

With steady direction by Ron Howard, Solo: A Star Wars Story is a brilliant prequel recommended especially for fans of the original trilogy, extracting elements out of The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi.

To add to the continuity, Donald Glover plays the young gambler Lando Calrissian last seen on the Bespin Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back and played back then by Billy Dee Williams. Glover is superb as the young Lando, a carefree gambler who gambles the millennium falcon in a space contest with the equally adventurous Han Solo.

Solo: A Star Wars Story also features Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson as the smuggler Tobais Beckett who teams up with Han Solo on a raid on an icy planet to steal some explosive mineral for the nefarious Dryden Vos, wonderfully played by British star Paul Bettany.

Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke plays the intergalactic femme fatale Qi’ra who facilitates between Han Solo and his enemy Vos. As Beckett advises Han solo in the cutthroat world of smuggling and intergalactic piracy, trust no one.

Westworld star Thandie Newton briefly appears as Beckett’s love interest Val, a fearless fellow smuggler.

The magnificent scenes in the film belong to those between Lando and Han, which establishes a friendship based on rivalry and pure competitiveness as each recognize a rogue quality in each other. Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover are cleverly cast as these two iconic space heroes.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is an entertaining hyperspace glimpse into the origins of an infamous intergalactic Smuggler as possibly one of George Lucas’s best loved characters, the charming risk taker pilot Han Solo which both Ford and now Ehrenreich captured so perfectly onscreen.

With stunning production design and beautiful cinematography, Solo: A Star Wars Story gets a film rating of 8 out of 10.

Highly recommended viewing for fans that love Star Wars films and fondly remember the original trilogy which shaped their love for sci-fi.

 

 

Rejuvenated Web Slinger

Spiderman Homecoming

Director: Jon Watts

Cast: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Donald Glover, Bokeem Woodbine, Tyne Daly, Logan Marshall-Green, Jennifer Connelly, Laura Harrier, Angourie Rice, Zendaya

Young British star Tom Holland, who was riveting as Naomi Watt’s son Lucas in director J. A. Bayona’s The Impossible, takes on the iconic superhero role of Spiderman in the Sony Marvel reboot of the webslinger franchise in the captivating Spiderman Homecoming directed by Jon Watts.

Since Marvel entered into a rights partnership agreement to use the Sony copyrighted superhero in Captain America: Civil War when audiences first caught a brief glimpse of Tom Holland as the new Spiderman it was inevitable that he would get a film of his own.

Spiderman Homecoming is thoroughly entertaining augmented by Holland’s spunky performance as the brash young Peter Parker who is struggling to complete High School while also being mentored by Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jnr. The young Spidey has allusions of grandeur of being inducted into the Avengers army but Tony Stark is rather letting him prove his worth first.

In a poignant moment, Stark says to Peter Parker, if you are nothing without this suit then the suit will mean nothing. In other words, the clothes do not maketh the man.

Parker, played with humour and courage by Holland soon proves his worth and apparent screen appeal when while revealing his alter ego to his best friend also has to contend with an evil villain Vulture wonderfully played by Oscar nominee Michael Keaton (Birdman) and his protective aunt May, whom he loves dearly played by another Oscar winner Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny).

While all this parental authority weighs down on the young webslinger he soon finds his own feet as he saves his science group from a diabolical end in the Washington monument whilst on a school trip to Washington D. C. The Washington monument and the action packed ferry sequences are two of the best in Spider Homecoming, both scenes being awash with symbolic American patriotism.

The irony is that Tom Holland is British is not lost on a more erudite viewer of pop culture.

Spider Homecoming has with some great cameo’s including Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Bokeem Woodbine of Fargo TV series fame as Herman Schultz, Vulture’s evil sidekick known as Shocker 2. Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus) plays the ill-advised first evil sidekick Shock 1.

Parker’s love interest is high school crush Liz played by Laura Harrier which allows for the narrative to set up an interesting twist towards the end and will definitely satisfy any lack of diversity disclaimers.

Audiences should forget Tobey Maguire as Spiderman in the Sam Raimi Trilogy or the ill-fated Amazing Spiderman films starring Andrew Garfield. Tom Holland presents a revitalized savvy young superhero which will ensure the franchise’s continued survival in the cluttered Marvel universe as he will next be appearing in the anticipated The Avengers: Infinity War.

You never too old to watch Spiderman.

Spiderman Homecoming is blissfully entertaining and gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10.

 

Man from Mars

The Martian

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Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Sean Bean, Kristen Wiig, Michael Pena, Donald Glover

Oscar winner Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting) takes the lead role in director Ridley Scott’s visually stunning adaptation of the Andy Weir novel, The Martian as he stars as Mark Watney, an astronaut who after a sandstorm on Mars gets stranded on the red planet by his fellow crew members who abandon him unknowingly to head back to earth.

The crew members include Captain Melissa Lewis played by Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Beth Johanssen played by Kate Mara, Chris Beck played by Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Rick Martinez played by Michael Pena (Antman, American Hustle) and Norwegian actor Aksel Hennie (Hercules) as Alex Vogel.

Meanwhile back at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, NASA headquarters, Director Teddy Sanders played by Jeff Daniels channeling his role in Aaron Sorkin’s TV Series, The Newsroom, announces that Watney is dead. Back on Mars, Watney is alive and has to figure out a way to survive on a planet with minimal oxygen and no sustainable ecosystem to grow his own food supply, an obvious metaphor for the dwindling food supply on planet Earth. Watch out for a superb supporting role by Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) as Vincent Kapoor who firmly believes in finding Watney and bring him back to Earth.

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Luckily Watkins is a trained botanist so with ingenuity and a lot of dry humour, he manages to harvest a small crop of potatoes inside the Mars man-made habitat. This is where Damon really inhabits the role of a lone space colonizer, the only man left on Mars who has to survive and adapt to his hostile and surreal environment, ironically while listening to 70’s disco music. Best line in the film is:

“Neil Armstrong, eat your heart out!”

As the team at NASA scramble to figure out a way to rescue Watney after receiving an encrypted message from him letting them know he is still alive, Watney has to use all his own resources to remain resilient until a rescue mission, however precarious is assembled. Whilst the astrophysics of the rescue mission, will go over the head of most viewers, what makes The Martian such an enlightening cinematic experience are the stunning almost ethereal visual effects, held together by an Oscar worthy performance by Matt Damon as he contemplates that he could perish on this desolate and largely uninhabitable planet, if the rescue mission fails.

The rest of the cast are largely viewed in supporting roles, including Chastain as the steely Captain of the Hermes space craft, they support Damon’s character both psychologically, emotionally and spiritually as Watney gradually learns that back on Earth he is becoming a symbol of a lone survivor who if he manages to return home safely will definitely have a legendary tale to tell.

With breathtaking cinematography by Dariusz Wolski and production design by Arthur Max, The Martian is definitely in the same league as Alphonso Cuaron’s 2013 Oscar winner Gravity and humanizes space travel without delving to deeply into the philosophical elements of the infinite universe as done in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey or more recently Christopher Nolan’s visually compelling but laden Interstellar which oddly enough also featured Jessica Chastain and Matt Damon.

With a running time of 141 minutes, The Martian is a superbly told adventure story about one man’s fight to survive and his resilient desire to return to Earth, brilliantly acted by Matt Damon and beautifully directed by Oscar nominee Ridley Scott (Alien, Prometheus, Blade Runner, Gladiator).

Highly recommended viewing especially in a cinema. Do not wait for The Martian to come on TV as the visual and sound effects will certainly be lost.

Swamp Country Debauchery

Magic Mike XXL

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Director: Gregory Jacobs

Cast: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Amber Heard, Adam Rodriguez, Andie MacDowell, Jada Pinkett Smith, Donald Glover, Elizabeth Banks

The much anticipated sequel to the sleeper hit Magic Mike about male entertainers in Tampa, Florida does not disappoint.

Magic Mike XXL assembles the same cast as the original minus Matthew McConnaughey and Alex Pettyfer but cleverly casts some new stars including Andie MacDowell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sex, Lies and Videotape) as the original Southern Belle, Nancy and more significantly a vibrant Jada Pinkett Smith (Collateral) as Rome, the notorious and zany new MC.

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Audiences should not expect much storyline in XXL but who cares the dancing is phenomenal and Channing Tatum really takes the main role of Magic Mike to extremes with superb dance moves and a wit to match. Tatum has really grown as an actor after being cast opposite Mark Ruffalo in the underrated yet bizarre male wrestling saga Foxcatcher and with the help of director Steven Soderbergh has matured as an onscreen performer after roles in Haywire, Magic Mike and Side Effects.

The crazy male entertainer troupe make their way from Tampa in Southern Florida all the way up through Savannah, Georgia to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in a journey described by one drag performer resembling Divine as Swamp Country Debauchery.

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In Magic Mike, the emphasis was more on the drug lifestyle associated with male stripping, but in Magic Mike XXL, Oceans Twelve and Oceans Thirteen director Gregory Jacobs cleverly lightens the tone and shifts focus to the actual art and performance of Male entertainment as the team including a gorgeous Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart) and Joe Manganiello compete at the illustrious Stripper Convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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The end sequence is brilliant with some superb dance moves along with sufficient eye candy to keep all the females happy, both on and off screen.

Magic Mike XXL is more in the tradition of Step Up, with strippers and should not be viewed to seriously but enjoyed like a fine sojourn below the Mason-Dixon line. Recommended viewing for those that enjoy a brash, sexy and diverse film with lots of magical moments.

Watch out for an unrecognizable Amber Heard (The Rum Diary) as Zoe who befriends Magic Mike at a beach party in Jacksonville, Florida.

 

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