Archive for Donald Glover

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On the shipbuilding world of Corellia, orphaned children are made to steal in order to survive. Han and his lover Qi’ra make an escape from the clutches of a local criminal gang. They bribe an Imperial officer with a stolen sample of coaxium, a powerful hyperspace fuel, in exchange for passage on an outgoing transport, but Qi’ra is apprehended by their pursuers before she can board. Han vows to return for her and joins the Imperial Navy as a flight cadet. When the recruiting officer asks for his family name, Han says he has no family, and is alone, so the recruiter gives him the surname “Solo” in his documents.

Three years later, Han has been expelled from the Imperial Flight Academy for insubordination. While serving as an infantryman during a battle on the planet Mimban, he encounters a gang of criminals posing as Imperial soldiers led by Tobias Beckett. He tries to blackmail them into taking him with them, but Beckett has him arrested for desertion and thrown into a pit to be fed to a beast – a Wookiee named Chewbacca. Able to understand Chewbacca’s language, Han persuades him to work together to escape their confinement. In need of extra hands, Beckett rescues them and enlists them in the gang’s plot to steal a shipment of coaxium on the planet Vandor-1. The plan goes awry when the Cloud Riders show up with their leader Enfys Nest, resulting in the deaths of two crew members, Rio Durant and Beckett’s wife, Val, and the destruction of the coaxium.

Beckett reveals he was ordered to steal the shipment for Dryden Vos, a high-ranking crime boss in the Crimson Dawn syndicate. Han and Chewbacca volunteer to help him steal another shipment to repay the debt. They travel to Vos’s yacht where Han finds Qi’ra, who has joined Crimson Dawn and become Vos’s top lieutenant. Han suggests a risky plan to steal unrefined coaxium from the mines on the planet Kessel; Vos approves but insists that Qi’ra accompany the team. She leads them to Lando Calrissian, an accomplished smuggler and pilot who she hopes will lend them his ship. Han challenges Lando to a game of sabacc, with the wager being Lando’s ship. Lando cheats to win but agrees to join the mission in exchange for a share of the profits.

The team boards his ship, the Millennium Falcon, and heads for Kessel. After reaching the planet and infiltrating the mine, Lando’s droid co-pilot L3-37 instigates a slave revolt. They use the confusion to steal a consignment of coaxium, but L3 is severely damaged and Lando is injured during the escape. With the help of L3’s navigational computer, freshly hotwired into the ship’s systems, Han pilots the ship along a dangerous route through an uncharted maelstrom to elude an Imperial blockade. The Falcon, badly damaged, lands on the planet Savareen to process the coaxium.

During a confrontation with Enfys, who has tracked the team from Vandor, Lando flees in the Falcon. Enfys explains to Han that she and her crew are not pirates, but rebels trying to prevent the syndicates and the Empire from gaining power. Han becomes sympathetic to their cause and tries to trick Vos, but Beckett has already alerted him to the double-cross. Vos sends his guards to kill Enfys, but the Cloud Riders overpower them instead, leaving Vos defenseless. Having anticipated Vos’s strategy, Han tries to take the coaxium, only for Beckett to betray Vos, escaping with it and taking Chewbacca hostage. Qi’ra kills Vos and sends Han after Beckett; once alone, she contacts Vos’s superior, Maul, to inform him of the mission’s failure and claim Vos’s position within the syndicate. She avoids telling him of Han’s involvement, instead blaming everything on Beckett.

Han catches up to Beckett and confronts him. Han shoots Beckett first before he can shoot him, and with his dying words Beckett tells Han he made the smart choice. Qi’ra leaves in Vos’ yacht, while Han and Chewbacca turn the coaxium over to Enfys. She offers Han a chance to join the rebellion against the Empire; when he declines, she gives him one vial of coaxium, enough to buy a ship of his own. Han and Chewbacca locate Lando and challenge him to a rematch in sabacc, once again wagering the Falcon. Han wins, having stolen the card Lando was keeping up his sleeve in order to cheat, and he and Chewbacca leave for Tatooine, where a “big-shot gangster” is putting together a smuggling operation.

REVIEW:

Han Solo has long been a fan favorite, but we have never really known much about him, how he partnered up with Chewbacca, won the Millennium Falcon, etc. Part of this mystery is what has made him such an endearing character, but there is also that part of all of us that wants to learn more about his past. This is what Solo: A Star Wars Story sets out to accomplish. Was the goal met?

What is this about?

With the emerging demand of hyperfuel and other resources, Han Solo finds himself in the middle of a heist alongside other criminals, where they meet the likes of Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian in an adventurous situation exposing the criminal underworld of the Star Wars saga.

What did I like?

Kessel run. In Star Wars, one of the first things out of Han Solo’s mouth is how he made the Kessel run in 12 parsecs. When we meet Lando Calrissian in Empire Strikes Back, he also alludes to it, if I’m not mistaken. For something that is such a major bragging point, one would think we’d have seen it. Hell, i had no idea what the Kessel run was until halfway through this film. I was thinking it was some kind of race, a la Cannonball Run, so I am very pleased to learn what this was and see it actually happen.

All hail, Khalessi. Every review of this film that i have heard and/or read is praising Donald Glover’s performance as Lando Calrissian, and with good reason. With Han, the jury seems to be split, though. I want to speak about Emilia Clarke. First off, Solo better back up off my future wife!!! Second, anyone that has seen an episode of Game of Thrones is more than aware of the acting chops this young actress has, but one thing that hasn’t really been put on display are her action chops. Sure, she starred in the last Terminator film, but who actually watched that? If she keeps making these blockbuster films, she is sure to be one Hollywood’s “it” girls. Some would say she is more deserving that most of the current crop.

Bring the fun. Surely by now, you have heard of the massive backlash against The Last Jedi and most of the cast and crew. If you haven’t, go look it up on YouTube, or google some of the insane things the rabid fan have said while hiding in their parents’  basement eating hot pockets and breathing heavily through their mouths. For me, I feel these films dubbed “the new trilogy” are too dark and serious. Somehow, the makers of this film remembered that the original films may have had some dark themes interspersed with exciting action, but there was also fun and levity in there as well, something these new films seem to forget.

What didn’t I like?

Language barrier. This whole time we’ve been under the impression that Han and Chewbacca just understood each other. Well, throw that assumption away because, according to this film, Han speaks Wookie. Now, i will give the film credit for introducing that aspect of their relationship because it explains how they got together in the first place. However, they way  they bring it up in their initial meeting and it is never mentioned or used again is what i didn’t like. No, we didn’t need to hear Han butchering the Wookie language (it is explained that he isn’t a Wookie linguist), but perhaps gradually show the growing relationship and understanding of the two, rather than two Wookie lines and bam, they can understand each other perfectly.

Cat scratch fever. I was just made aware as i was setting this review up that the character of Dryden Vos was originally to be played by Michael K. Williams, but was recast with Paul Bettany because of scheduling issues. My problem has nothing to do with Bettany nor does it involve some comparison of the two actors. My issue is with the look of the character. Had Williams been able to return to the set for reshoots, we’d have seen a true alien life form, much like we are used to seeing in this universe. Instead, we get Bettany who appears to have had a run in with a lion, tiger, or something along those lines. I guess if this was a last minute addition, i could understand it was a quick fix, but given all the money that this production has, surely something more imaginative could have been done. Unless this was a case of Bettany not wanting to sit in the make up chair for hours on end as I’m sure he has to do to play Vision in The Avengers films.

Low stakes. Through no fault of its own, this picture is flawed. How so? Well, no matter how perilous situation they were put it, we all know nothing is going to happen to Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian, as they appear in the holy trilogy. Much like every character in Rogue One was killed off because they weren’t in the actual films, we have the same scenario here. As much as I liked Lando’s droid L3 and the Emilia Clarke’s character Q’ira, we know what fate awaits them, whether it is in this film or beyond. This is a problem with prequels, you can’t really give the audience a heart attack because of a situation involving the main character because it is already known they survive.

Final verdict on Solo: A Star Wars Story? Something amazing is happening with the Star Wars franchise here in the last few years. We’ve had 4 films. The 2 that continue the main story have been well-received, but reaction has been average at best, most of that coming from The Force Awakens. The other 2 films, this and Rogue One, exist outside the main story, weren’t super hyped-up (personally, I was avoiding this film) and yet, they have been some of the best films in the franchise since the holy trilogy. I could list a laundry list of complaints about this film and end up typing all night, but instead the thing that is most important to know about this film is that is has everything we have come to love about the Star Wars franchise, action, comedy, romance, adventures in space, characters we wish we could be, aliens, etc. For that reason I say this is a must-see!

4 1/3 out of 5 stars

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Spider-Man: Homecoming

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Following the Battle of New York, Adrian Toomes and his salvage company are contracted to clean up the city, but their operation is taken over by the Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C.), a partnership between Tony Stark and the U.S. government. Enraged at being driven out of business, Toomes persuades his employees to keep the Chitauri technology they have already scavenged and use it to create and sell advanced weapons. Eight years later, Peter Parker is drafted into the Avengers by Stark to help with an internal dispute, but resumes his studies at the Midtown School of Science and Technology when Stark tells him he is not yet ready to become a full Avenger.

Parker quits his school’s academic decathlon team to spend more time focusing on his crime-fighting activities as Spider-Man. One night, after preventing criminals from robbing an ATM with their advanced weapons from Toomes, Parker returns to his Queens apartment where his best friend Ned discovers his secret identity. On another night, Parker comes across Toomes’ associates Jackson Brice / Shocker and Herman Schultz selling weapons to local criminal Aaron Davis. Parker nearly drowns intervening, and is rescued by Stark, who is monitoring the Spider-Man suit he gave Parker and warns him against involvement with the dangerous criminals. Toomes accidentally kills Brice with one of their weapons, and Schultz becomes the new Shocker.

Parker and Ned study a weapon left behind by Brice, removing its power core. When a tracking device on Schultz leads to Maryland, Parker rejoins the decathlon team and accompanies them to Washington, D.C. for their national tournament. Ned and Parker disable the tracker Stark implanted in the Spider-Man suit, and unlock its advanced features. Parker tries to stop Toomes from stealing weapons from a D.O.D.C. truck, but is overpowered and trapped inside the truck, causing him to miss the decathlon tournament. When he discovers that the power core is an unstable Chitauri grenade, Parker races to the Washington Monument where the core explodes and traps Ned and their friends in an elevator. Evading local authorities, Parker saves his friends, including his fellow classmate and crush Liz. Returning to New York City, Parker persuades Davis to reveal Toomes’ whereabouts. Aboard the Staten Island Ferry, Parker captures Toomes’ new buyer Mac Gargan, but Toomes escapes and a malfunctioning weapon tears the ferry in half. Stark helps Parker save the passengers before admonishing him for his recklessness and taking away his suit.

Parker returns to his high school life, and eventually asks Liz to go to the homecoming dance with him. On the night of the dance, Parker learns that Liz is Toomes’ daughter. Deducing Parker’s secret identity, Toomes threatens retaliation if he interferes with his plans. During the dance, Parker realizes Toomes is planning to hijack a D.O.D.C. plane transporting weapons from Avengers Tower to the team’s new headquarters. He dons his old homemade Spider-Man suit and races to Toomes’ lair. He is first ambushed by Schultz, but defeats him with the help of Ned. At the lair, Toomes destroys the building’s support beams and leaves Parker to die. Parker is able to escape the rubble and intercepts the plane, steering it to crash on the beach near Coney Island. He and Toomes engage in an open confrontation that ends with Parker saving Toomes’ life from his own unstable equipment, and leaving him for the police along with the plane’s cargo. After her father’s arrest, Liz moves away, and Parker declines an invitation from Stark to join the Avengers full time. Stark returns Parker’s suit, which he puts on at his apartment just as his Aunt May walks in.

In a mid-credits scene, an incarcerated Gargan approaches Toomes in prison. Gargan has heard that Toomes knows Spider-Man’s real identity, but Toomes denies this.

REVIEW:

With all the success Marvel has had with the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), they could not say they truly were a success story until there was a Spider-Man film under their wing. With Sony holding the rights to the character (not to mention the Fantastic Four) hostage, many were wondering if we would ever see the day when Spidey would grace the big screen in the MCU…then we saw Captain America: Civil War. Now, Spider-Man: Homecoming aims to take that character introduction and flesh out a third cinematic version of Peter Parker. Hey, at least this one is age-appropriate, right?

What is this about?

Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May, under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark, Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.

What did I like?

Fun. Audiences and critics have been noticing something in superhero films (and TV shows). A lack of fun! Think about how bright and vibrant Superman is and now think about what we were forced to sit through with Man of Steel. Somewhere along the way, our superheroes stopped being beacons of hope, and turned into examples of how to brood. Spider-Man has not been exempt from this curse. Toby Maguire’s version started out pretty good, but couldn’t keep it up. I never cared for Andrew Garfield or his take on the character, so I won’t waste time on him. Tom Holland brings a fresh take to Spider-Man in that we haven’t seen him as a high schooler, at least not an age appropriate high schooler. With that, the fun and innocence that Stan Lee intended for the character is front and center, as are the awkward moments of being a teenager. Again, this is what Stan Lee envision when he first created him, not some attitude having, puffy haired, British string bean who ruins the character of Peter Parker.

We know the story. Look, if you don’t know the origin of Spider-Man by now, either through comics, cartoons, Watchmojo.com, Wikipedia, or whatever, then chances are you either don’t care or just haven’t bothered to learn yourself something. With that said, I join the billions of fans who saw this and noticed the absence of Uncle Ben’s murder. As a matter of fact, it isn’t even mentioned! We are more than aware than Ben gets shot and its Peter’s fault, but in the last 5 Spider-Man movies, we have either seen this happen or been privy to a bevy of flashbacks so that we can relive the scene ad naseum. Thank goodness the 6th time they got it right and didn’t include anything about the murder…though I do hope in future films we get something on what happened. I’m mostly curious as to who they’ll cast as Uncle Ben to pair with Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May

Cap must’ve needed the money. One of the best cameos in the picture is Captain America doing PSAs. While I was laughing when Cap showed up in these videos, I couldn’t help but wonder why he was doing them. Did the government make him? Is he just being a good guy and attempting to help the youth? Just some thoughts that popped in my head. I’m sure that I am just overanalyzing and  these were nothing more than a funny thing to include in the film.

What didn’t I like?

Homage or ripoff? About halfway through the picture, there is a scene where Spider-Man has to use all of his strength to hold two halves of a dissected boat together. As I was sitting there watching him strain, I couldn’t help but recall the train sequence in Spider-Man 2 when Toby Maguire is called on to use all of his strength to stop the train. Many people have noticed this comparison and now I must ask…is this an homage or a ripoff? I see it more as an homage, personally. The scene in question is from what is arguably the best Spider-Man film to date, so why wouldn’t you bring something from that great film into this new version? Also, if it was a ripoff, I think we’d have a seen something involving the subway, I’m sure.

What a shock! Shocker is one of my favorite in Spider-Man’s rogues gallery. I can’t tell you why, but I have this affinity for him. Maybe it’s the Texas connection?!? At any rate, I was over the hills with excitement when I heard the announcement he was going to be in this film. Then I saw him and my jaw dropped. This is not Shocker. He doesn’t even really don the costume, save for the sleeves on his jacket. How is it we can get nearly every detail right with superheroes, but for the villains they just seem to wear similar colors to their comic counterparts. I wonder why that is!

A change will do you good. My first introduction to the Vulture was as an elderly gentlemen who was running part of the criminal organizations in NYC. Obviously, there are some differences between that idea and the one we see on the screen. Most importantly, the family man version of the character remained intact. So, why would I not like the change in history? Well, just this week, some promotional photos were released for Deadpool 2, specifically images of the mutant, Domino. I bring this up because she’s quite the curvy wonder in the pics, it is the sudden realization that she is now to be played by an actress of color…complete with afro and some weird face that causes her to look like a dog. What is the reason for this change? No real reason, they just wanted someone of ethnicity to play a character who has plae white skin.

Final verdict on Spider-Man:Homecoming? This is the superhero film we’ve all been clamoring for. It has action, humor, sci-fi, crime, and even a love story. What is there to not like? While Marvel and Sony are sure to fight over who gets credit here, really it is the fans and moviegoers that win. Do  I recommend  this? Emphatically yes! The cons are few and the pros are many. Go check it out!

5 out of 5 stars

 

The To Do List

Posted in Comedy, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza), from Boise, Idaho, is an overachieving and socially awkward teenager who graduates as the valedictorian of her high school in the summer of 1993. Brandy is revealed to be the polar opposite of her older sister, Amber, who makes fun of her for being a virgin. After the ceremony, her two best friends, Wendy (Sarah Steele) and Fiona (Alia Shawkat), take Brandy to a party and she gets drunk for the first time. At the party, Brandy almost has sex with a college boy named Rusty Waters, but she doesn’t know how so he backs off. At this point she decides to learn all about sex over the summer and so she can be experienced enough to go with Rusty.

Rusty works as a lifeguard at the local pool, where Brandy gets hired to as well, along with her study-buddy Cameron Mitchell (Johnny Simmons). As the newbie, she is hazed by her slacker boss, Willy, and her other coworkers, and given unpleasant jobs including fishing a turd out of the pool. Based on the Baby Ruth joke from the film Caddyshack she is confident it is only a candy bar, and picks up the turd and takes a bite, only to find out it was a real turd. At the end of the way, she pushes Willy into the pool for revenge and finds out he can’t swim, so she agrees to teach him if he knocks off the hazing, which he does.

She gets advice from her sister, Amber (Rachel Bilson), her mother (Connie Britton)and father (Clark Gregg), a judge and devout conservative and makes a list of sexual acts to learn about and perform. As the summer progresses, Brandy has several sexual encounters with Cameron and other boys, whilst trying to catch the eye of Rusty. Cameron begins to fall for Brandy and is hurt when he discovers her list, and that he was just part of her “mission”. Meanwhile, Willy catches Brandy, Wendy, Fiona, and other boys messing around in the pool after-hours so she is sent home where she is confronted by Cameron over the list. He refuses to speak to Brandy again.

Later, when Wendy and Fiona come over so they can all watch Beaches, they discover Brandy’s list and see who she experimented with. They get upset because Brandy was hooking up with their ex-boyfriends behind their backs and also refuse to speak to her. Brandy finally gets close Rusty when they vandalize on a more upscale pool, but it leads to Willy being forced to fire Brandy.

Brandy finally calls and asks out Rusty, and they drive in his Volkswagen Vanagon to a popular make-out spot to get it on. The sex is very short, disappointing Brandy. When she sees her father and mother in the Dodge Caravan next to them, apparently having sex, she becomes dismayed that sex isn’t what she thought it would be. Brandy demands Rusty take her home.

Meanwhile, Willy goes to the Klark house to warn Brandy about something and is met at the door by Amber, who immediately seduces him. When Rusty gets Brandy home, a jealous Cameron is there to meet him with a sucker-punch, and they fight until Brandy breaks it up. She compliments each one out on their good qualities, then apologizes sincerely to Cameron for what she did and offers her own view of sex.

Afterwards, she seeks out Wendy and Fiona to apologize to them. She sings “Wind Beneath My Wings” under Wendy’s window, and the two girls eventually join in, back together again as friends. Brandy meets up with Willy at the pool, who offers her his job if she comes back next summer as he had decided to quit and chase the Grateful Dead before Jerry Garcia dies.

Brandy and Cameron meet again at Georgetown University where they both are studying. Cameron confesses he had sex once sometime after the whole to do list with an unnamed girl but Brandy tells him that she doesn’t care. They have sex in her dorm room and Brandy finally achieves orgasm, the last thing on her list, right before her father walks in on them.

REVIEW:

Remember those sex comedies we all grew up on and enjoyed? It seems as if they were all centered on the male perspective. Enter The To Do List, a sex comedy that spins the genre on its ear and offers some new things for the audience to enjoy. This is a film that slipped under the radar, somehow, probably because there aren’t any A list stars in the cast.

What is this about?

In this racy ensemble comedy, sexually inexperienced high school graduate Brandy Klark comes up with a list of erotic activities she’d like to work her way through before heading off to college in the fall.

What did I like?

Plaza. Ever since I first saw her in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, I’ve been intrigued by her dry wit. Since then she has gone on to bigger and better things and now is starring in her own film. What I like about this character she plays is that she isn’t trying to have sex as a way to impress her friends, but because she wants to do it. Not only that, but the way she goes about it, with a scholarly approach, even looking things up in the encyclopedia.

Summer of ’93. I was loving the fact that this was set in the 90s after graduation. The music, styles, and pop culture references that were on display for us to see. More importantly, though, is the fact that this wasn’t shoved down our throats. Usually in films of this nature that are set in times gone by, these references take over the film more than the actual plot.

Pool. A good potion of this film takes place at the pool, where Plaza gets a summer job. She gets hazed by her coworkers, including a rather gross scene involving her eating something (you have to watch to know what I’m talking about). There are a couple of little boys running around that terrorizing the girls at the pool, specifically Plaza’s friends. Watch what they do to them in the pool!

What didn’t I like?

Plaza. At a point during the film, Plaza is talking Bill Hader’s character and they get on the topic of why she has isn’t well liked. It is discovered that she comes off as a bitch. Truth be told, this is how she comes off in nearly every character she plays. The same shtick can only go so far.

Support. The supporting cast is great, let’s get that out of the way. However, I think that some of them, such as Rachel Bilson and Alia Shawkhat, could have been used a bit more. Bilson is the big sister and although it is more than obvious that they aren’t necessarily close, it just seems that she should have been more a part of the list and schooling her little sister. Shawkhat is an actress that has always impressed me and I wish she would get more roles. This is one of those that would have been a time for her to shine as one of the best friends, but she doesn’t get anything special to do but just be there. The only spark she has is when she gets asked out at the drive through by the guy Plaza has mostly been using for her list (and has a huge crush in her).

Stop the raunch. The amount of raunchiness in the film rivals that of some of the greatest sex comedies of all time, but after the dénouement, we get no more raunch. The final scenes, at least to me, felt a bit out of place. If this was a John Hughes film, it would have been perfect, but since this isn’t, then not so much. At least the ending sort of brought it back, but I still wasn’t happy with the tone change.

As I said in the opening, not many people saw The To Do List. I would wager that you haven’t even heard of it, but now hopefully you’ll want to track it down and watch. I had a great time watching this and hope that you will as well. Do I recommend it? Yes, very highly! So, check it out!

4 1/4 out of 5 stars