I've Got A Good Feeling About This
"You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon? It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs"
It's crazy to think we have a new Star Wars movie to enjoy when The Last Jedi was only just released in December but here we are with Solo: A Star Wars Story. The second anthology movie outwith the main saga following 2016's Rogue One, Solo is set prior to the events of A New Hope, and explores the early adventures of Han Solo and Chewbacca.
Directed by Ron Howard, who took over from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller who were reportedly fired due to "creative differences", Solo stars Alden Ehrenreich in the title role, alongside Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, and Paul Bettany.
As always, I've tried to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but if you don't want to know anything, then stop reading now and come back once you've seen the movie. Check out the trailer below:
We are quickly introduced to a young, street wise Han and his lover Qi'ra (Clarke) in the midst of a hussle on the shipbuilding world of Corellia. Whilst trying to escape Corellia to begin a new life together, Qi'ra is apprehended and Han vows to return for her one day. He escapes the planet by enlisting as a flight cadet in the Imperial Navy. Fast forward three years and Han is introduced to a group of bandits led by Beckett (Harrelson).
This sets Han on a path that sees him first encounter his long term allies Chewbacca & Lando Calrissian, set foot on the Millennium Falcon for the first time and we see the origins of the infamous "Kessel Run", first mentioned in A New Hope. Our group of misfit heroes come together to appease the ruthless crime lord Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany) who has a longstanding history with Beckett.
The new cast for the most part, all take to their roles brilliantly - Alden Ehrenreich is perfect in the role of Han, and is entirely believable as a younger version of the character that Harrison Ford first brought to life; he has the look, the charm and the most importantly, the cocky arrogance. Emilia Clarke is perfectly fine as Qi'ra, I think she is at her best in the films final act - but I think there is something quite wooden about her performance for the most part. Woody Harrelson does his best Woody Harrelson as Beckett and is great in the role but for me the standout performances were Donald Glover as Lando, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as his robot first mate L3-37. I think everyone knew before seeing the film that Glover would knock it out the park as Lando, and he does - much like Ehrenreich does as Han, Glover has all the characteristics to play Lando just as Billy Dee Williams did. There's talk of potentially seeing more of Donald Glover as Lando Calrissian, and I really hope we get to. Just as with K-2SO in Rogue One, there is a scene stealing droid that gets the majority of the movies laughs. L3-37 is Lando's first mate, and co-pilot of the falcon. Voiced by English actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge, L3-37 is at the centre of many of the films laugh out loud moments and proves yet again, that the droids are the heart of Star Wars movies.
Paul Bettany does an excellent job as the movies villain Dryden Vos. If you are going to cast an English actor to play a villain, then you cast Paul Bettany. He does such a good job of being both extremely charming, yet extremely terrifying at the same time. My only gripe is that he's such a massive, menacing screen presence but yet he doesn't get an awful lot of screen time.
As always with Star Wars movies, the score plays almost as big a part as any character and that is no exception here. John Powell is on hand here as the movies main composer, with long term Star Wars composer John Williams composing Han Solo's theme, (known as The Adventures of Han). There are call backs to older movies with versions of The Star Wars Main Theme and the Imperial March getting their chance to shine during some of the movies most thrilling moments. I'll forever marvel at the sight of the Falcon flying through space as the Star Wars fanfare plays.
The movies set piece moments all land as intended for me, and play out spectacularly on screen. The central heist of the movie, referred to as The Kessel Run works as both a standalone part of this movie, and also as a neat callback to A New Hope. Seeing the Falcon in it's original condition is also pretty cool. It is essentially a brand new ship in this movie, and looks rather different to how we're used to. However it is the train heist from earlier on in the movie (as referenced to in the trailer) that is the most impressive action sequence for me. It is an awesome sequence of events that looks awesome in the snowy setting. Han & Chewie's first meeting is also a fun little scene, although I was able to predict it happening before it actually played out on screen.
As with Rogue One, there isn't really too much moments of jeopardy in the movie, because we kind of already knew the outcome. We knew that Han, Chewie & Lando would all survive, we knew that Han would get his golden dice back from Qi'ra and we knew that the Falcon wouldn't get destroyed.
Overall, I really enjoyed Solo - it is fun filled ride of a movie, and whilst it may not be 100% necessary in the grand scheme of things, it serves as great introduction to Han Solo's backstory. Seeing some iconic moments play out on screen, left me with a major grin and I will never not get chills when I hear the Star Wars theme blasting out over the speakers. Finally, Solo is worth the admission fee for the cameo at the end alone - it will blow your mind, trust me.
Solo: A Star Wars Story gets 4 out of 5 from me
Deadpool 2: Dead Harder
The Merc With The Mouth is back. Following the rip roaring success of his first outing in 2016 a sequel was very quickly announced & a release date set. The post credit scene in Deadpool also told us that the sequel would feature Cable - the time travelling cybernetic soldier from the comic books. I absolutely loved the first movie and was extremely excited for the sequel. Following a hilarious marketing campaign, Deadpool 2 was released on 16 May, 2018.
Directing duties this time round go to David Leitch (John Wick, Atomic Blonde) from a script by the returning Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick who are joined by Ryan Reynolds. The movie stars Reynolds in the title role alongside Josh Brolin, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, T.J. Miller, Brianna Hildebrand, and Jack Kesy.
I've tried to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but if you don't want to know anything, then stop reading now. Check out the trailer below:
Deadpool 2 picks up a couple of years on following the events of Deadpool where Wade Wilson has been successfully working as Deadpool the mercenary to great effect. Then, a failed assassination attempt results in a tragedy for Wade that sets off a chain of events that see's Deapool become an X-Men trainee under the guidance of the returning Colossus. This leads him to an encounter with the troubled teen Russell (Julian Dennison) & subsequently Cable, the time travelling cybernetic soldier played by Josh Brolin. This in turn sets up various large scale action set pieces that lead towards a final show down, including one very impressive sequence in a high security prison. We also see the beginning of the X-Force team in this movie, which leads to one of the most unapologetic, hilarious montages I have seen play out on screen recently!
Ryan Reynolds is just as fantastic as this movie as he was in the first. He was born to play this character. The wit, the humour, the jokes & the constant fourth wall breaks never seem out of place at all and Reynolds is there at the centre of it all holding it together. Alongside him, the new cast; Zazie Beetz (Atlanta) as Domino, Josh Brolin (Avengers: Infinity War) as Cable and the hilarious Julian Dennison (Hunt For The Wilderpeople) as Russell all make a fantastic addition to the supporting cast and for me Domino & Russell really steal the show alongside Reynolds. If you have watched any of Atlanta on FX you would know that Zazie Beetz would just nail the role of Domino, and she does with aplomb. Julian Dennison brings his trademark New Zealand sense of humour that shot him to stardom in Hunt For The Wilderpeople - please watch that film, you wont regret it!
If I had to pick some flaws in it, they would only be minor. Location wise - it felt pretty similar to the first movie; action scenes taking place on a motorway and similar looking big grey open spaces. Also, there were one or two jokes that didn't quite land for me, including one involving dubstep that I thought felt quite dated - and this was used twice during the movie!
There is a hilarious sequence of post credit scenes that come shortly after the beginning of the credits, and they are absolutely worth staying around for. I won't spoil them for you, but Ryan Reynolds sure knows how to poke fun at himself!
Overall, I thought Deadpool 2 was great and everything you could have wanted from the sequel; bigger, badder, cruder, more violent & introducing new, interesting characters. However I did feel that it lacked the initial shock factor from the first movie, as you kind of knew what was coming & it didn't quite catch me off guard as it did in the first movie. That said, it's still a hell of a ride, and one I definitely recommend that you check out.
Deadpool 2 gets 4 out of 5 from me
My Tips For A Few Days In The City
We recently took a trip to Paris as part of my wife Kerry's 30th birthday celebrations. I'd never been there before and Kerry had only been to Disneyland and having visited other large cities like New York & Barcelona last year, it was something we were really looking forward to. In this post, I'm going to share some of the things we got up to, and my tips to make the most of a few days in the French capital.
Walk, Walk, Walk
Paris is a large & sprawling beautiful city, and much like New York it is entirely walk-able. Sure, it may take a couple of hours to get from one end to the other, but the architecture, the quirky neighbourhoods & the unique bars and coffee shops you will find along the way make it completely worth it. So if you have the time, I would suggest walking pretty much everywhere you can.
Obviously this is all weather dependent & the first couple of days, we found ourselves getting an Uber pretty much everywhere. While Uber is an extremely convenient way of getting around, the traffic in Paris can be such a nightmare, a 2-3km journey can take up to half an hour! If you are wanting to get somewhere quick, then the metro is the way to go. There are stops everywhere, and it is just as straight forward as it is in London & New York.
Head Up The Eiffel Tower (On A Sunny Day)
You don't need me to tell you that if you are visiting Paris for the first time that you need to go up the Eiffel tower. It is iconic and something I would definitely recommend. The architecture and level craftsmanship is absolutely stunning, and unlike anything I have ever seen in person.
My number one tip for going up the Eiffel Tower would be...try and make sure you go up on a sunny day! I had arranged tickets for a tour beforehand that gave us priority entry to the second floor as part of a group. Unfortunately on the day of our tour, which also happened to be Kerry's birthday, was absolutely miserable; freezing cold, pouring rain and rather windy. Since the tickets were already bought and the tour was booked we didn't really have a choice but to go along. Also, if you've booked a tour - make sure you are not late! I ended up misjudging the traffic which caused us to miss the start of our tour and in turn we ended up in a Spanish language group - not ideal, but at least we still got to skip the queues. It was all quite hilarious as the tour guide didn't realise that we couldn't understand him, and we just happily nodded along with the odd "Si".
If you decide to go up the tower, make sure you make your way to the very top. It makes for some spectacular views of the city - even on a rainy day!
Go On A Dinner Cruise
Get Up Early To Explore
Trying to get good photos of some of the more popular landmarks in Paris can be an absolute nightmare, especially with the amount of other tourists around.
On our final day in Paris, I decided to get up early (7am) and head out for a run. It was a great run through the city, along the bank of the Seine, through the Jardin des Tuileries and finally past the Louvre. Whilst the streets were packed with runners along the river, when I broke off through the tourist spots, I found that there was hardly anyone around. This was a great opportunity to take a quick break & snap a few photos and I was able to capture some stunning, unobstructed shots of the ferris wheel & the Louvre pyramid.
So my advice would be - if you really want that perfect shot, get up early and go and get it
Hunt Around For The Coolest Bars
There are loads of places to have a drink in Paris. However, a lot of them are quite generic looking restaurants/bars on street corners with similar looking menus. My main piece of advice for this is to do a bit of research beforehand and you can find all the coolest spots to visit.
Right next door to our hotel was a cocktail bar called Bisou which had no menu, and only made drinks based on what you like. So for example - you could tell the bartender that you liked bourbon, something sweet & smokey and then he would go off and make your drink. He would then let you try it, and then come back and explain what it was and how he came up with the idea - it was a really could place and I would definitely recommend checking it out of you are ever in Paris
There are places like that to be found everywhere. A five minute walk from our hotel took us to a bar called Wynwood that was a funky little spot. Serving up cocktails, craft beer and tacos. There were cool neon lighting, awesome artwork on the walls and even a Nintendo tucked away in the corner running Mario Kart! It was a shame that this place wasn't very busy whilst we were there as it was such a cool spot, one that I wish we'd discovered earlier in the holiday as I would have definitely paid it another visit.
You Don't Need To Eat Out All the Time
Have A Picnic In Champ De Mars
There are some beautiful parks all over Paris. One of these parks, Champ De Mars is the perfect place to have a relaxing picnic on a sunny day, underneath the stunning backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. Get along to a supermarket or a bakery, pick up some bread, meat, some beers or wine and spend a few hours chilling in the sun. That's what we did and it was the ideal way to wind down on our final day in the city.
So there you have it. My tips for getting the most out of Paris. Obviously there was so much more we could have taken in whilst we there; we didn't visit any museums, we didn't visit all the major tourist attractions, we didn't take in a show and we didn't eat out every night. But the reality is - Paris is a really expensive place, and coupled with the time factor, we couldn't realistically do everything. However, we did what we wanted to do, and I think that we had a great time.
Have you been to Paris? What did you get up to? Is there anything you would have done differently? Let me know in the comments below.
If like me, you've been sitting in the movie theatre until the credits finish rolling for the last 10 years, then the chances are you'll be excited for this movie.
Directed by the Russo Brothers, Joe & Anthony (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War), Avengers: Infinity War is the 19th entry Into the MCU and the third Avengers movie. Starring pretty much everyone who featured in the MCU so far including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira, Letitia Wright, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, and Chris Pratt, Infinity War sees The Avengers join forces with The Guardians of The Galaxy to face their biggest threat yet - Thanos, the mad titan.
I've tried to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but if you don't want to know anything, then stop reading now. Check out the trailer below:
The movie picks up almost immediately following the ending of Thor: Ragnarok with a shocking opening sequence that sets the stakes for the rest of the movie within the first ten minutes. We are given a brutal re-introduction to Thanos & meet his henchmen, known as the Children of Thanos for the first time. They are dispatched to Earth in search of more infinity stones as the movie shifts gear & begins to catch up with the rest of our heroes.
It is extremely fast paced as the movie jumps back and forth, caching up with different groups of heroes as they prepare for the arrival of Thanos. There are some fantastic scenes here, including some hilarious comic relief with Dr Strange, Tony Stark & Bruce Banner. There is even a sequence set in Edinburgh that features one of the best shots in the entire movie where a certain hero re-emerges from the shadows in the train station.
As teased in the trailer, Thor's introduction to The Guardians is as hilarious as you would expect & he is quickly dispatched on a side mission with Rocket & teenage Groot, while the rest of The Guardians set off in search of Thanos. As the movie progresses, the groups are slowly brought together across space & the stunning Wakanda. The home of T'Challa is just as stunning as it was when we were introduced to it in this year's Black Panther movie, and it serves as a hub for The Avengers as they prepare for the arrival of Thanos himself. As seen in the trailer there is a massive battle sequence set here that is an incredible spectacle and without one of the most spectacular sequences in the MCU to date. Many of the supporting cast from this years smash movie make an appearance here and standout Shuri gives even Bruce Banner & Tony Stark a run for their money in the brains department.
I went though just about every emotion imaginable watching this movie; I laughed, I gasped, I was shocked, I was excited & I felt sadness several times - there is one moment in particular between Tony Stark & Spider-Man that is bound to set off some tears.
The score plays an absolutely fantastic part in the overall movie too - I still get chills every time I hear the Avengers theme, I think it is starting to become just as iconic as Star Wars or Jurassic Park for me. There is even a slowed down, piano key version of it that plays over a devestating scene later in the movie.
As always, there is a post credit sequence, so be sure to stay until the very end to catch it. I did think it was a little disappointing, however we do see a couple of characters we haven't seen for a while now.
I loved Avengers: Infinity War. It was everything I was expecting & more. Sure it ends with a massive cliffhanger, but it makes the wait for the untitled Avengers 4 next year even more exciting. I think that it takes it's place at the top of my MCU rankings now and I cannot wait to watch it again.
Avengers: Infinity War gets 5 out of 5 from me