Solo – A Star Wars Story

solo_a_star_wars_story_ver5I wouldn’t consider Cathryn or I Star Wars fanatics, but we usually get around to seeing the latest production. I was pleasantly surprised to see the film was directed by Ron Howard, and that Woody Harrelson was in it. The names of the leading actors didn’t ring any bells, but a couple looked familiar.

Solo is about Han Solo, not Hans Solo, the character made famous by Harrison Ford. The movie takes us back to destitute planet he grew up on, and eventually escaped. We get to see how me met Chewbacca, and how he came into possession of the Millenium Falcon – his supersonic spacecraft.

The movie is not part of the series, but gives us the usual dose of the familiar like rebellions and the empire. Its focus is on Solo and not The Force or the Jedi. As with past productions the creators have come up with exotic and creepy looking aliens who add color and a bit of humor to the film.

Alden Ehrenreich plays Solo, and although he’s no Ford, I thought he pulled it off well. Cathryn agreed when I mentioned he resembles a young DiCaprio. We both enjoyed the movie…she gave it a 9 and I a 7 out of 10.

Murder on the Orient Express

imagesI for one, can’t believe that Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express took forty years to bring back to the big screen. The scenery, costumes, and characters in this movie are as colorful as the actors who portray a list of suspects that reminded me of the game “Clue.”

The mustache on the Belgian Detective who investigates a murder on-board is almost as long as the train itself. His powers of observation and deduction take him from passenger to passenger, while he uncovers clues and lies.

The movie moved a bit slow in the middle, but the classic whodunit kept me guessing until the end. I’d seen the movie when I was a kid, but didn’t remember much of it. As entertaining as the flick was, Cathryn and I both give it a 7 out of 10.

Victoria & Abdul

imagesVictoria & Abdul is a (mostly) true story about the unusual friendship of Queen Victoria of England, and an Indian servant named Abdul, who becomes her teacher. It’s a good flick for the big screen, it captures the grandeur of places like Windsor Castle and the Taj Mahal.

The story is set at the turn of the century when India is part of the British Empire. The plot gives us a look at English pomp and pretentiousness first hand. Even the aging Queen admits that all the ridiculous celebrations are killing her. From bowel movements to boredom, Judy Dench gives us an inside look at what it’s like to be at the top of a monarchy.

Unlike other movies that focus on body counts or comic book superheros, Victoria & Abdul is mostly fun and good entertainment. Cathryn rates it an 8 and I a 7 out of 10.

Only The Brave

imagesIf you see this movie you’ll never think of wildfires in the same way again. Ever. We hear about these disasters all the time, but I’m sure most of us have no idea what the firefighters or hotshots who deal with these raging infernos do for a living.

Only The Brave gives us a firsthand look at the job these men do and how it affects their personal lives at home. Like Navy Seals, Hotshots are elite specialty units with the expertise that allows them to be dropped into the middle of out-of-control wildfires in the hope they can save thousands of acres of forest or in some cases, whole towns full of private homes.

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The Foreigner – Jackie Chan

imagesJackie Chan is no stranger to action films, but he is The Foreigner to serious thrillers. I’m not alone in thinking this is one of Chan’s best performances ever. Granted, many of his previous action films were serious, but they had a cheap feel to them, like the old martial arts movies where the voices didn’t match lip movements.

Although the story seems familiar – former military special forces guy seeks revenge for missing or murdered family member, it’s credibility is bolstered by Chan’s humble character. With the exception of one scene where he should have produced a few tears, Jackie’s acting was superb.

Former James Bond, Pierce Brosnan plays a believable bad guy who’s involved with the IRA. Jackie may be older and grayer, and his moves may have all been choreographed, but he’s still got the moves. Mr. Chan is still quick as lightning. The movie moves well and is loaded with lots of action. It’s great entertainment – Cathryn got so excited at one point she tried blocking the kung fu punches from her seat.

We both enjoyed the movie and give it a 9 out of 10.

 

American Made

imagesWith all the political crap that is going on in the United States I think the timing of this movie’s release is perfect. Reviews are all over the map on this one with Tom Cruise lovers and haters. I’m not sure why the latter would see the movie in the first place.

Cruise plays Barry Seal, a TWA pilot who is recruited by the CIA to help Americanize certain third-world countries in Central America. In the interest of democracy Seal plays errand boy between the U.S. government and Manuel Noriega, running money and guns into Nicaragua. To supplement his personal income he helps the Medellin Cartel export cocaine to the U.S.

While messing in political and government affairs in Nicaragua, the CIA turns a blind to Seal’s extra-curricular activities. Although the story material is dead serious, the movie is almost comical. The role is not typical for Cruise, but he personifies the true all-american.

If nothing else, the movie was highly entertaining. Anyone who follows politics will recognize the names of Escobar, Ollie North, Noriega, and certain  U.S. presidents.

Cathryn and I both enjoyed American Made. She gives it a 9 and I an 8 out of 10.