Monday, 18 June 2018

Making Fun: The Story of Funko - Netflix review

Coming off the back of the fascinating Netflix series The Toys That Made Us, comes a documentary called Making Fun: The Story of Funko.
Where the TV series focused on the toys of our childhood such as Star Wars, He Man, Transformers, etc. the subject of this new film is the Funko company, a relative newcomer to the toy and collectable game but one of the genuine phenomenons of the last twenty years.
And phenomenon is really the only word to accurately describe the company that started out in Mike Becker's garage in Snohomish, Washington in 1998.
Even if one doesn't own a Funko Pop, it is impossible not to be aware of them. Just go into any HMV on the high street and there seems to be more space on the shelves dedicated to Funko than there is for vinyl records or CDs.
The film starts by looking at the origins of the company that was set up by a group of friends making "Wacky Wobbler" bobbleheads of Big Boy and how their designs, creativity and fun attitude to the business led to a dedicated fan base called Funko Fanatics or "Funatics" who would help grow the company into what it is today.
In 2005, Becker sold the company to Brian Mariotti who developed key licencing agreements with the likes of Star Wars, DC Comics and Marvel that would take Funko to the next level. Giving them Cate Blanchett to essentially print money with every new item.
In 2011, the company released their very first Funko Pop. These are the iconic toys that everyone will know with the unique shape with the Stewie from Family Guy over-sized head and anime style face.
According to the doc, some original fans were not too keen on the new design, having built their collections on the wacky wobblers but it brought them a whole new audience and the rest is history.
The rest of the documentary spends time with some of the fans talking about their collections, fandom and what the toys mean to them as they all gear up for Funko open their new headquarters and landmark store back in the hometown of the company, Everett Washington.
It is at this point the film feels less like a documentary and more like a marketing puff piece to showcase how great the company is.
It is nice to see people passionate about the toys and collecting but it never delves deeper into the darker world of collecting; such as watching people fight at a comic-con over a limited edition Pop, or the ones who would "flip" the toys i.e. buying them and then selling them online for a profit which is something that happens a lot.
Ultimately, while a sweet starter for 10 look at the company, it feels as empty as the inside of a Funko toy's head and lacks a killer edge to make it really Pop!

2 stars

Friday, 15 June 2018

Hereditary - review

From the very first shot that slowly tracks in to a model house only for it to seamlessly transitions into real life, it is clear that the audience is in the hands of a master of horror.
What is most shocking about Hereditary, and there are a LOT of shocking moments, is that this "master", Ari Aster, is a first-time writer/director. The film feels so assured, controlled and effortless in its slow build and execution that the only explanation can be that his parents made a pact with the devil and the ghost of Kubrick.
The theme of control looms large over the film. Aster is always in complete control over the story but he is the only one.
Just like the small scale models that Toni Collette's Annie makes are designed and controlled by her mood and desires, the central family are merely pawns in a wicked game and have no control of their own destiny.
It is clear from the outset that something is not right. Annie's mother, whose funeral opens the film, was obviously into some odd pastimes and hobbies but the exact nature of which is left to the audiences imaginations. A clever move on the part of Aster who knows that what the audience conjures in their imagination can be infinitely more terrifying than anything physically manifested on screen.
That is not to say that there aren't images and shots in the movie that will chill your blood to the bone and imprint themselves on your soul till the end of time.
There is one particular shot that will be discussed more than any in the film and rightly so. It is the cinematic equivalent of a "Retweet when you see it" meme on Twitter where you can feel the realisation slowly and surely trickle through the auditorium. It is proof of Aster's skill and mastery of score, lighting and camera placement all coming together to produce something truly terrifying.
While this is the scariest film of the year, before it dials up the Kill List-esque levels of "What. The. Actual. Fuck" in the third act, Hereditary is one of the best character studies of grief that you will ever see.
Drawing from horror classics such as Don't Look Now and The Babadook, the raw, emotional anguish is palpable and it is heartbreaking to see the family being torn apart by being unable to express that grief and pain. Instead it drives them further apart as dark secrets slowly emerge from the cupboards like a graveyard worth of skeletons.
A lot of credit must go to Toni Collette who is simply incredible as the mother who, similar to Essie Davis in The Babadook ,may be dealing with some mental health issues beyond grief. It is a performance that deserves awards attention and hopefully can break through the stigma of being in a "horror movie".
Like the roots of this family's twisted family tree, Hereditary slowly grabs a hold of you and the sense of creeping dread works its way up from the ground until you find yourself paralysed with fear. Indeed by the end of the film you will be so tense you'll need to double check for Rigor mortis.
Exiting the cinema in a complete daze, utterly shell-shocked by what one has just seen, don't lose your head. Just keep repeating "It's only a 5 star movie, it's only a 5 star movie, it's only a 5 star movie".

5 stars

Monday, 11 June 2018

Book Club - review

Just as you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, you shouldn't judge a film by its poster.
However this poster is a fairly accurate representation of the film in just how relevance and importance the actual "book" part of the book club has to the film. Can you make it out on the poster? It is there I promise you.
That might be harsh because for all I know most book groups might be a mere front for drinking copious amounts of wine and gossiping about men!
Beginning with a voiceover from Diane Keaton's character, it introduces the audience to the four main protagonists who formed a book club and have been meeting for forty years now.
There is the one who talks via narration (Keaton), the one who is sexually dominant (Fonda), the career minded lawyer (Bergen) and the meek, family oriented one (Steenburgen).
If that line up of characteristics sounds familiar, it does feel like a script for a potential sequel to Sex And The City set 30 years after the original that has been reworked to sell to a studio by including a rather tenuous link to a popular novel. Just like Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight then!
How tenuous you ask? Well at one point Fonda tells the group "50 million readers can be wrong" only for a minute later to have one of them reading the book with the back cover stating "Over 100 million copies sold" which shows how little the film cares about the book.
In the 2002 TV series The Book Group and 2007 film The Jane Austen Book Club, the plots of the books that were being read become part of the characters lives and influence the story.
Here beyond a few initial smutty jokes, there is very little in the way of plot references.
*Spoilers* There is only one post-coitus scene in the film which is not very progressive for a film about women reclaiming their sexual power*
Instead it is just a rather bland, formulaic, poorly written romantic comedy... just like Fifty Shades then!
(For those who are saying Fifty Shades wasn't a comedy, you clearly didn't see the film I saw)
If the filmmakers wanted to try to convince audiences that this movie was about a book group, they could have included at least one scene of them actually reviewing one of the books let alone all three of them.
The biggest difference between the Fifty Shades trilogy and Book Club is simply the sheer amount of talent attached to the material.
Between the top six names on the cast list are 5 Oscars, 11 nominations, 10 Golden Globes, 37 nominations, 4 BAFTAs, 9 nominations, 7 Emmys and 15 nominations.
Which begs the question? Why are they all starring in this?
At one point Bergen says of Steele's character "She should never have signed that contract!". The same could be said of all these great actors.
Much has been made of the argument that there are not many good roles out there for women of a certain age. Was this script all that was available?
Similar to choosing Fifty Shades of Grey for a book group, was there really no other options?
Particularly when this film was written and directed by a man.
It is an strange situation because European cinema has shown recently that there are great films out there for women such as Elle and Let The Sunshine In so why is America and the UK flagging behind. I say the UK because unless you are a Dame (Dench, Smith or Mirren) your options are still limited. And obviously there is the Streep exemption as well.
The women here still show a sparkle in the eye and have a joie de vivre. Keaton's subplot involves her two daughters believing she is over the hill and unable to look after herself but she learns to stand up to them and say she still has a life to live and leaves them to go enjoy it.
Here's hoping that Keaton, Fonda et all get the chance to have that big screen renaissance in real life too.

1 star

Friday, 8 June 2018

Secret Cinema : Blade Runner The Final Cut

"It's too bad she won't live. But then again who does?"

This past weekend I had the opportunity to truly discover what it was like to live within my all-time favourite film Blade Runner: The Final Cut thanks to Secret Cinema.

For those in on the secret, Secret Cinema have been THE company when it comes to Event Cinema, providing immersive, interactive experiences relating to a film that is screened at the end of the night. When it first began in 2007, it really was a secret in that the audience did not know what they were going to see until they got to the event.
It has grown and grown over the years to the point now where the film selections and productions have become so big that the "secret" is out in order to guarantee ticket sales and buy-in from the customers e.g. Back To The Future and The Empire Strikes Back.
But with an inflated price tag of £45-£115, equivalent to a concert or West End show, come inflated expectations.

Having signed up for a new life that was awaiting me on the off-world colony of Utopia, I, Henry Carradine, arrived at World Terminus with a group of my scavenger/dreamer friends to begin our journey. Albeit scavengers who had scavenged costumes off people who looked suspiciously like Rick Deckard and a cosmic Katy Perry.
Sadly the LAPD deemed us not worthy of travel and revoked our identity papers and placed us in a holding pen to watch the rich and powerful breeze by to their new lives.
It was within this pen that we learned of the resistance, a group sick of this world and the injustices they endured. But no longer. For tonight, they would execute Operation Blackout which would reset the clock and level the playing field for everyone.
If the blackout sounds familiar, the writers of Secret Cinema have cleverly tied in to the events that lead into Blade Runner 2049 with a blackout that erased all digital records allowing replicants to disappear without a trace and remove barriers of wealth and class to the rest.
I won't go into the plot too much further but once we were smuggled inside we were given missions and had the opportunity to interact with characters that many would recognise from the original film.
Other guests with different character types (detectives, entertainment models, replicants, etc) all had different mini-missions and there was the immediate temptation to return to try another story thread.
But don't worry if getting into character isn't really your thing or you reach a dead end because you are unable to locate Zhora within The Snake Pit and are refused entry to the dressing room area even when you claim to be from the Committee of Moral Abuses!
For there is so much to see and explore that you won't even care. You will be too busy trying to reattach your dropped jaw to the roof of your mouth.
The level of detail in the recreation of 2019 Los Angeles is simply astonishing. I spent the first twenty minutes just trying to take it all in. There is the noodle bar; check out the digital ad screens for Coca-Cola and Pan-Am; woah, was that Rachel that just walked past?; I wonder if I could buy an artificial owl from Abdul Ben Hassan?
The organisers (L.A.P.D. officers) make you seal your phone in a bag prior to entering the world so you are unable to take photos and share/spoil the experience for others. Part of you will wish that you could capture the memories forever (like Leon and his precious photos) but there is something refreshing about not being on your phone the whole time and being able to absorb and savour every little detail.
I had previously attended the Star Wars event but the quality of the acting and commitment to the characters from all the actors (and guests) was out of this world for Blade Runner and added to the whole experience.
Having gotten a tip from a Replicant singer, we made our way to The Snake Pit where the storyline reached its climax in a thrilling way which was completely in keeping with the universe.
Following that, there was just enough time to order some noodles before taking our seats for the main feature.
With so much energy and focus put into creating this interactive world, it is always a risk that the projection of the film may not be up to the same level. Especially as you are watching it in a converted warehouse and not a cinema auditorium.
However the projection is excellent both in terms of picture and audio. The only problem is that due to audiences enjoying the bars and food stalls for two hours previously, many of them need to visit the bathroom so there is a lot of movement but nothing that will ruin one's enjoyment.
I mentioned previously that Blade Runner is my favourite film of all-time and one of the reasons I love it so much is that I seem to notice something knew every time I see it.
This time it was just how childlike Roy Batty is at some moments, in keeping with the fact that his mind is really only four years old and testament to Hauer's performance.
The other reason is that every time I genuinely change my opinion on the central question of the film; Is Deckard a Replicant?
This time? I would say that he is human. My reasoning this time? Replicants are unable to empathise. This is the reason that they fail the Voight-Kampff test. In the film, Deckard gets very emotional every time that he "retires" a replicant. This leads me to think that he is human and Roy saves him at the end to save his humanity which he has rediscovered through Rachel.
Am I right? Ah, we will never know and part of me loves that mystery. Sorry Ridley.
Without a doubt, this is the greatest and most immersive event that Secret Cinema have put on and I applaud them for that. "You've done a man's job sir". It will be hard for them to top it but I look forward to seeing them try.
Philip K. Dick asked the question, "Do androids dream of electric sheep?". I don't know about androids but I know I will dream of my night in Los Angeles 2019 and unicorns for many a night to come.
So to sum up and paraphrase Batty's final speech...
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. I've watched a sea of people dancing under umbrellas in the Los Angeles acid rain. I watched Roy Batty take down a squad of Blade Runners without breaking a sweat. Without being able to take photos at Secret Cinema, all these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain..."

5 stars

Secret Cinema presents Blade Runner The Final Cut runs till 8th July and you can get tickets here.

Top 5 Tips

1) Bring your umbrella - You will get wet!
2) Take old photographs - Old memories are essential for bartering for information or entrance to secret areas
3) Don't bring cash - all bars and food stalls take contactless payment. Even if that means you will end up spending more than you planned!
4) Do dress up according to your character - Don't come straight from work in your normal outifit. You will get picked on by the actors as my friend discovered.
5) Once the film is over, make your way to The Snake Pit where you can dance the night away with replicants and blade runners side-by-side. Even if the music selection is not in keeping with the 2019 setting i.e. Beyonce, Outhere Brothers, etc.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - review

"That's how it starts with 'ooohs' and 'aaahhs' but later there's running and screaming"

Jurassic World breathed new life into an all-but-extinct franchise back in 2015, to the tune of over $1 billion dollars, prompting the "ooohs" and "aaahs".
Now Fallen Kingdom could cause the running and screaming from the franchise as it splits audiences like a T-Rex tearing through a lawyer on Isla Nublar.
While Jurassic World was a success, there were some that felt it was just rehashing the original story for a new audience. Similar to what Star Wars did with the Force Awakens.
Well if World is Force Awakens, then Fallen Kingdom is definitely The Last Jedi because it will divide the fans by destroying what has gone before (metaphorically and literally by blowing up the original island) and forging its own path, albeit for better or worse.
At first glance, this did not appear to be the case as the first trailer and the first hour of the film play out like a beat-for-beat retread of The Lost World.
Character with previous bad experiences in the park is summoned to an old man's mansion and asked to return to help save the dinosaurs. In this case it is Bryce Dallas Howard's Claire, who is re-introduced via a shot of her much maligned high heels, before pointedly switching to boots upon the island. There, like Malcolm did in the original, they team up with an ex and a couple of thinly sketched supporting characters to save the day but are hindered in their efforts by a bald hunter in khakis who may or may not have a hidden agenda.
In fact, Ted Levine's character seems to be dressed as the lead truck Nazi from Raiders of the Lost Ark and the whole first act has a Indy trying to recover the Ark from the Nazis-vibe with the team hiding on board a boat and dressing like the villains. Even Giachianno's score has a familiar theme to that other Spielberg classic.
Once they are off the island, following one of the most emotionally moving shots in the saga and indeed of the last few years of cinemagoing, J.A. Bayona is finally able to take the franchise in a new direction. Like a geneticist, creating a new hybrid of dinosaur perhaps.
Having made his name with The Orphanage, Bayona goes back to the well by setting the remainder of the film within a creepy mansion. This one also features a dark secret in the basement but unfortunately this is a surprise that was spoiled by the final trailer for the film.
To be honest, if you have seen that trailer, you have seen Fallen Kingdom as there are no real surprises left to be had.
At one point, Claire asks Owen (Chris Pratt), "Do you remember the first time you saw a dinosaur?"
For many of us, our idea of what a dinosaur is and looks like was from Jurassic Park and the incredible animatronics.
Sadly, the majority of the dinosaurs in this film are now CGI and they do lose some of that sense of wonder knowing they were created in a computer rather than a lab. Which is a huge shame given how well the effects from the original film still hold up.
The over-reliance on CGI dinosaurs and the 12A rating mean that Bayona's attempts to create a stalk n slash style horror mood in the third act lose some of their power and the end result is as toothless and neutered as a hand-reared velociraptor.

Mild spoilers coming after the scary dinosaur...

Please can we call time on the T-Rex suddenly appearing in shot to eat something/someone? Yes it is a shock for the audience but are we really expected to still believe that the dinosaur or character does not see or hear it coming?!

End of spoilers. Here is a happy dinosaur!

Anyway, the kid at the beginning of the first Jurassic Park said it best, "that's not scary, looks more like a six foot turkey". That's what Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom is, a giant turkey that is about to go extinct.

2 stars (would have been 1 star but for the Brachiosaurus shot)

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Ibiza - Netflix Originals review

One has to wonder if the Netflix office were tripping when they greenlit and funded this horrendous excuse for a film.
The signs are not good when the most detailed description of the plot on IMDB is "A young American woman and her two best friends seek out a hot DJ in Spain".
As evidenced by the above poster, the film is clearly aimed at trying to cash into the market that enjoyed Girls Trip, Rough Night, Bridesmaids and Sex And The City.
However Ibiza makes Sex And The City 2 look like Lawrence of Arabia.
Gillian Jacobs stars as Harper, a "young American woman" who works at a PR firm and is sent to Barcelona by her boss to close a deal because she is attractive and the clients will want to sleep with her. Her "two best friends" convince her to swap her business class ticket for three economy tickets (because you can just do that apparently) and join her in Spain. Cue hilarity!
These three friends seem to live in a giant open plan apartment in Manhattan even though one works in PR, one is a dental assistant and the other is freelance.
I would go into more detail about their characters but the opening scene where they discuss taking time off work is as deep as it gets.
Harper's defining characteristic is that she hasn't had sex in a long time. Leah (Phoebe Robinson) has "drug friends" who are into drugs and Nikki (Vanessa Bayer) is the ditzy & wacky as evidenced by the scene where she gets sunburnt.
They arrive in Barcelona and spend 5 minutes setting up a hotel room/blacklight/jizz gag that you can see coming a mile away (pun, intended).
The film then follows the two friends to the beach rather than following main character Harper to her business meeting so we can see if she is any good at her job or not. Up to this point we have only seen her getting hung up on by clients.
To cut a long story short (too late), the girls go out clubbing where Harper meets DJ Leo West (and yes I am having to refer back to IMdb for every single name because they are that unmemorable or hardly even mentioned in the film in the first place). Their meet-cute takes place because he notices that she has a dick drawn on her face. Yes, really.
Leo is played by Game of Thrones Richard Madden and he is using his own Scottish accent which makes it feel like he is playing a Calvin Harris-type superstar DJ (here we go) but if you were to close your eyes when watching (and you really should at times), you would believe that James McAvoy was starring in this stinker.
I know, I know, but if they are in Barcelona, "why is the film called Ibiza?" I hear you all cry out in horror.
Well, the film's second act takes place in Ibiza when Harper's awful friends convince her to fly to the party island to see Leo again at his next gig, thus jeopardising her final pitch meeting with the client which takes place the next day. The meeting is meant to take place in the evening so plenty time to catch an early morning flight back but anyone who has ever seen a movie will see where this is going to go.
I struggle to remember if this film with a majority of female lead characters even passes the Bechdel test because all they seem to talk about is having sex with men and how they seem to prioritise this over their careers.
Anyway they arrive in Ibiza... actually make that Croatia apparently because they did not actually film in Ibiza. This is possibly down to the fact that no one in the film can actually pronounce it correctly. Instead calling it "I-bee-za" the entire time.
Watching the film, one thinks that this could be the nadir of the entire production until you become that drunk crying in the bathroom when you realise that someone has managed to license David Bowie's Life On Mars to appear on the soundtrack.
Immediately following this, the girls ask a taxi driver to take them to the sunset which turns out to be on the opposite side of the island from the club and cue awkward journey back with crazy, stereotypical locals, drinking, drugs, sex, rock 'n' roll, etc.
Well, you can probably guess where the third act goes. She gets the man, has sex, misses her meeting but sends her friend, gets fired but somehow manages to score the client which leads her to setting up her own PR firm just like that. Who knew it was so easy?
So DJ Calvin Harris mark 2 phones and asks her to fly to Tokyo to see him but she declines saying she needs to focus on herself and her work. She can't be chasing around the world after him... only for her to change her mind and decide to go. Go female empowerment!
So what did we learn? What great journey did the characters go on? Did they learn that there is more to define them and their happiness than a man? Apparently not.
Ibiza is one bad trip and rather than going clubbing, this should be clubbed to death.

1 star

Friday, 25 May 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story - review

With another year to wait until we get another "Episode" Star Wars film, it is time for another "A Star Wars Story" film from Disney that plugs a gap in the cinema release schedule and the Expanded Universe backstory.
Just like Rogue One told the story of how the Rebels got the plans for the Death Star, this new film explores the backstory of the saga's most lovable rogue, Han Solo.
And just like Rogue One, this film is one that has had a route to the big screen even trickier than flying through an asteroid film.
Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (21 Jump Street, The LEGO Movie) were fired by producer Kathleen Kennedy after filming 90% of the movie with too comedic a tone. This led to Kennedy bringing in Ron Howard to complete the movie and shooting 70% of the film.
This leads us to a situation where you have 160% of a film and a battle between two creative styles. How did it affect the story and performances? How would it all gel together? It is enough for anyone to say "I've got a bad feeling about this".
Safe to say the odds were against the film but as a certain someone might say, "Never tell me the odds".
Why? Because on watching the final film, there is no real hint of any issues with production.
With Rogue One, there were the expectations delivered by the initial trailer that ultimately featured many scenes that were not in the final film.
Here, for any viewers unaware of the behind-the-scenes problems, you would never know there were any.
As a reviewer, that is how one must approach the film as well. One cannot review it wanting and hoping they were watching the Lord and Miller version. In a similar way to wondering what Edgar Wright's Ant-Man would have been like. They must give Ron Howard's film a fair old crack of the whip instead (wait, wrong Harrison Ford character reference).
And here we arrive at the main issue with Solo: A Star Wars Story.
The production problems were never the problem. The issue here is that the entire film feels redundant and unnecessary.
When Han Solo first appeared in the Star Wars universe, sitting in the cantina in Mos Eisley, you knew exactly who this character was. From his brash boasting to Obi-Wan and Luke, to the way he coldly and brutally dispatched Greedo by shooting first. This short introduction told the audience everything they needed to know to set up his character in the universe.
There was never any need to see how he became the man he was at the start of Episode IV.
Do we need to discover where he got his gun from? No.
Do we need to see how he won the Millennium Falcon from Lando? No, he told us in Empire Strikes Back.
Do we need to know how he got the name Han Solo? No.
Do we need to know how he met Chewbacca? No but it is a nice scene and one of the highlights of the film.
And we certainly don't need to see a back story to those bloody dice which only suddenly became important at the end of The Last Jedi. Well I hate to break it to you Leia, but they reminded Han of another woman!!!
That woman is Qi'ra played by Emilia Clarke who is cast in the now standard Star Wars role of lead female character who is white, short brown hair and in her late-twenties/mid-thirties (see Carrie Fisher, Natalie Portman, Daisy Ridley, Felicity Jones).
Han and Qi'ra wish to escape Corellia together but when she is forced to stay behind, Han promises to return to free her and travel the galaxy together on a ship.
This promise is what drives Solo for the majority of the story, joining forces with a crew led by Woody Harrelson to pull off a job to win a huge payoff. When this goes awry, they are indebted to Paul Bettany's gangster Dryden Vos and forced to plan and pull off a daring robbery via the infamous Kessel Run.
It is here Solo is reunited with his love Qi'Ra, now in Vos's employ, and meets the other loves of his life; Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian and the Millennium Falcon.
Donald Glover steals the show as the charasmatic owner of the Falcon, along with his droid co-pilot L3-37 (voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge), who similar to Dobby in the Harry Potter films, strives for equality for droids.
But what of Alden Ehrenreich? The man with one of the most unenviable jobs in movie history. How do you step into the boots of Harrison Ford and one of the most iconic characters in all of cinema? Would that it were so simple.
Thanfully he is, more or less, up to the task. He never tries to do a simple impression of Ford. Instead, building his own version that one can see becoming Ford's seminal take on roguish smuggler.
In fact when we first meet the young Solo, he is lightyears away from the man we all know and love. He is wide-eyed, a dreamer and like a puppy in love. He is more akin to a young Luke Skywalker dreaming of escaping life on Tatooine.
Over the course of the film, events slowly shape and mould him into a more recognisable version of the character to the point where you can see him becoming this guy...

While the characterisation is there, the overall plot feels very perfunctory as it carefully but unimaginatively joins the dots to get Solo from to Chewbacca to Lando to the Falcon to the Kessel Run, etc, etc.
This is the last time Lord and Miller will be mentioned but a Lord and Miller-led adventure where you weren't exactly sure where it was going to go and how it was going to play out could have been just what the story needed to feel fresh and relevant. Ron Howard's studio-mandated film is rather pedestrian, tried and tested route. If Howard took the standard 20 parsecs to do the Kessel Run, Lord & Miller could have done it in less than 12. Riskier but the payoff could have been bigger.
The Last Jedi proved that the saga could (and should) take risks but with Solo, instead of "great shot kid, that was one in a million" it left this reviewer colder than carbonite.

2 stars

NB: Please avoid the 3D print of the film which is incredibly dark and muddy