Monday, 18 June 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story Review

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Release Date: 24th May 2018 - Australia

Production Companies
Lucasfilm Ltd.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Australia

Genre: Sci-Fi

Rating: M

Runtime: 135 minutes

Budget: $250,000,000

Box Office Gross: $339,545,087 (Worldwide) (This figure may change as new editions earn more money and increase the overall value of the box office gross)

Plot Summary
Following the adventures of a young Han Solo and his faithful companion Chewbacca as they travel in a galaxy far, far away.

Alden Ehrenreich - Han Solo
Joonas Suotamo - Chewbacca
Donald Glover - Lando Calrissian
Emilia Clarke - Qi’ra
Woody Harrelson - Beckett
Paul Bettany - Dryden Vos
Thandie Newton - Val
Phoebe Waller-Bridge - L3-37
Jon Favreau - Rio Durant (Voice)
Linda Hunt - Lady Proxima (Voice)
Ian Kenny - Rebolt
John Tuin - Korso 
Warwick Davis - Weazel
Charlotte Louise - Margo
Sema-Tawi Smart - Chanteuse
Clint Howard - Ralakili
Dee Tails - Quay Tolsite
Attila Vajda - Sagwa
Anthony Daniels - Tak (Cameo)
Kiran Shah - Karjj
Lily Newmark - Lexi
Samantha Colley - Ottilie
Dave Chapman - Rio Durant & Lady
Proxima Lead Peformer
Katy Kartwheel - Rio Durant Performer
Harley Durst - Moloch Performer
Andrew Jack - Moloch (Voice)
Ray Park - Maul (Cameo)
Sam Witwer - Maul (Voice) (Cameo)

Director - Ron Howard
Based on Characters - George Lucas
Producer - Lawrence Kasdan 
Screenplay/Co-Producer - Jonathan Kasdan
Executive Producers - Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Jason D. McGatlin
Producer/Unit Production Manager - Simon Emanuel
Producers - Kathleen Kennedy and Allison Shearmur
Co-Producers - Will Allegra and John Swartz
Co-Producer/Visual Effects Supervisor - Rob Bredow
Co-Producer/Unit Production Manager - Susan Towner
Production Designer - Neil Lamont
Costume Designers - David Crossman and Glyn Dillon
Creature and Special Make-up Effects Creative Supervisor -
Neal Scanlan
Make-up Designer - Amanda Knight
Director of Photography - Bradford Young
Second Unit Director/Action Designer/Stunt Coordinator -
Bradley James Allan
Action Designer - Christopher Clark Cowan
Stunt Coordinators - Mark Ginther and
Steve Griffin
Stunt Coordinator/Performer - Roy Taylor
Special Effects Supervisor - Dominic Tuohy
Animation Supervisor: ILM - Matt Shumway
Film Editor - Pietro Scalia
Score Composer and Adapter - John Powell
Han Solo Theme and Original Star Wars - John Williams

Fans are worried that this new anthology film may be an unnecessary addition to the STAR WARS lore after a behind-the-scenes drama which began with the original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller being fired by the producer, allowing the production to fall into the hands of a more capable Ron Howard who re-shot the picture in 75%. Even the controversy from THE LAST JEDI (click here) has left some loyal fans befuddled and concerned about the future of the franchise. SOLO wasn’t much of a box office success partly because of this disinterest, though the film wasn’t a total failure for both Disney and Lucasfilm, they need to re-think their strategies before they can go up against another hugely successful movie and this may have been the first time in the series however.

Having read much of Han Solo’s original backstory from only one book of the non-canon Expanded Universe as well as learned its few facts. This feature unravels much of the character’s backstory and some bits that were already explored from the novel are changed for the better, like Han saving Chewbacca’s life and Han making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs and so forth. I liked the script-writing father and son duo Lawrence & Jon Kasdan for adapting the story of the notorious smuggler than came to be Han Solo, though I’m a little disappointed how there are a few discrepancies in the story-line that would seriously hurt the movie.

Alden Ehrenreich has outdone himself in portraying a young Han Solo and though he isn't trying to emulate Harrison Ford's older impression and doesn't have his rugged good looks or his improvisation. He has done the integrity that he needs to be his own role and that's what you get paid for being the titular character he really likes. Donald Glover is perfect as the smooth-talking, charismatic Lando Calrissian since he took over the character from Billy Dee Williams. I haven't watched any of the Game of Thrones series, not because I'm unfamiliar with the actress Emilia Clarke since she hasn’t had the privilege to portray Sarah Connor in TERMINATOR: GENISYS. Quite frankly, she's doing much better than her previous role but otherwise did okay. Other particular actors that have standout roles include Woody Harrelson as Han's mentor Beckett and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Lando's sassy droid companion L3-37.

That being said, SOLO is a feel good science-fiction movie, not the best but near-perfect to everyone's opinion. While this standalone feature does very little to contribute to the franchise, I am really satisfied how it has turned out. Longtime fans and cinema-goers would definitely watch this movie in order to check their expectations of it.

Star rating: (7/10) Good Movie

Monday, 28 May 2018

Singin' in the Rain Review

Singin' in the Rain

Release Date: 25th December 1952 - Australia

Production Companies
Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Loew's Inc (produced by)

Genre: Musical

Rating: G

Runtime: 99 minutes

Budget: $2,500,000

Box Office Gross: $13,979,088 

Plot Summary
Silents are giving way to Talkies - and a hoofer-turned-matinee-idol is caught in that bumpy transition, as well as his buddy, prospective ladylove and shrewish co-star.

Gene Kelly - Don Lockwood
Debbie Reynolds - Kathy Selden
Donald O'Connor - Cosmo Brown
Jean Hagen - Lina Lamont
Millard Mitchell - R.F. Simpson
Douglas Fowley - Roscoe Dexter
Rita Moreno - Zelda Zanders
Cyd Charisse - Dancer
King Donovan - Rod (Uncredited)
Judy Landon - Olga Mara (Uncredited)
Kathleen Freeman - Phoebe Dinsmore (Uncredited)
Madge Blake - Dora Bailey (Uncredited)

Directors - Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen
Story/Screenplay - Betty Comden and Adolph Green
Producer/Songs: Lyrics - Arthur Freed
Art Directors - Randall Duell and Cedric Gibbons
Director of Photography - Harold
Film Editor - Adrienne Fazan
Songs: Music - Nacho Herb Brown
Musical Director - Lennie Hayton


1953 Academy Awards
Best Supporting Actress - Jean Hagen (Nominated)
Best Music: Score of a Musical Picture - Lennie Hayton (Nominated)

When SINGIN' IN THE RAIN was released in 1952, it was Gene Kelly's finest hour in one of his best musical performances in cinema history. It didn't even get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture and was a mild showcase until in later years when it was finally recognised as a movie classic. However, I was able to watch the film for the second time and revisited it for the late Debbie Reynolds who passed away two years earlier before I was to complete this review. A triumphant musical comedy from Kelly, co-director Stanley Donen and producer Arthur Freed who have much in common in handling this film the way Kelly and Freed did it with Vincente Minnelli in the Oscar-winning AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (click here). It reminiscences back to the golden years when movies have transitioned into the sound era and were now called the ‘talkies’ back then. 

This would explain how much the producer has been through this experience where he had his roots as a lyricist co-writing songs for earlier musicals at MGM that he later borrowed for SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN as a homage of that period. Kelly’s enthusiasm has combined with Donen’s co-supervision and Freed’s experience of that era made this movie as an all-singing and all-dancing extravaganza. There are bits of slapstick comedy and the sequences are based in firm routine as Kelly sang and choreographed most of them including the famous number that everyone is humming for a tune.

The cast was full of natural talent including the players such as the aforementioned Kelly who is the standout actor of the movie than a highly-coordinated dancer and prolific director he was. The young actress Reynolds was doing a fine performance as the loveable sweetheart Kathy Selden and Donald O’Connor brings the joy and laughter into his character role of Don Lockwood. Jean Hagen is more interesting as she plays the vain and self-centered actress Lina Lamont as her bad Brooklyn accent is not suited for any of the ‘talkie’ pictures. 

There is so much singing and dancing that would live up to this kind of picture, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN is a golden oldie and a must-see feature for all and it will attract a new generation of musical-goers. I’ll look forward in seeing more classic musicals and I intend to review a few in the near future.

Star rating: (10/10) Best Movie Ever

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Ready Player One Review

Ready Player One

Release Date: 29th March 2018 - Australia 

Production Companies
Warner Bros. Pictures
Village Roadshow Pictures
Amblin Entertainment
Amblin Partners
De Line Pictures

Roadshow Distribution 

Genre: Sci-Fi

Rating: M

Runtime: 140 minutes

Budget: $175,000,000

Box Office Gross: $576,892,094 (Worldwide) (This figure may change as new editions earn more money and increase the overall value of the box office gross)

Plot Summary
In 2045, a teenager enters a treasure hunt inside a virtual reality universe called OASIS after its creator dies and the fortune that he leaves behind is the grand prize. 

Tye Sheridan - Parzival/Wade
Olivia Cooke - Art3mins/Samantha
Ben Mendelsohn - Sorrento
Mark Rylance - Anorak/Halliday
Simon Pegg - Odgen Morror
T.J. Miller - I-R0k
Lena Waithe - Aech/Helen
Philip Zhao - Sho
Win Morisaki - Daito
Hannah John-Kamen - F'Nale Zandor
Ralph Ineson - Rick
Susan Lynch - Alice
Clare Higgins - Mrs. Gilmore
Laurence Spellman - Lame Tattoo Guy (Reb)
Perdita Weeks - Kira

Producer/Director - Steven Spielberg
Based on Novel/Screenplay - Ernest Cline
Screenplay - Zak Penn
Executive Producers - Bruce Berman and Christopher DeFaria
Executive Producer/Production Manager - Daniel Lupi
Executive Producer/First Assistant Director - Adam Somner
Producers - Donald De Line, Dan Farah and Kristie Macosko Krieger
Co-Producer/Visual Effects Producer - Jennifer Meislohn
Production Designer - Adam Stockhausen
Costume Designer - Kasia Walicka-Maimone
Cinematography - Janusz Kaminski
Second Unit Director/Stunt Coordinator - Gary Powell
Special Effects Supervisor - Neil Corbould
Special Effects Co-Supervisor - Keith Dawson
Visual Effects Supervisors:
ILM - Roger Guyett and
Grady Cofer 
Visual Effects Supervisor: Digital Domain - Matthew E. Butler
Associate Visual Effects Supervisor: ILM - Daniele Bigi
Animation Supervisor - Kim Ooi
Animation Supervisor: ILM - David Shirk
Film Editors - Sarah Broshar and Michael Kahn
Music - Alan Silvestri

READY PLAYER ONE has every fanboy’s dream of having each of their favourite works of popular culture blend with a dystopian setting and elements of a virtual online role-playing game into a huge crossover. I’m surprised that Steven Spielberg is still the world’s most legendary filmmaker and he hasn’t slowed down despite his advanced age. He is slowly regaining his balance at helming what is to become his biggest sci-fi movie ever. The visuals were amazing and so does the brisk pace but the huge surprise for us is the endless list of pop cultural references of films, music, literature and video games. I liked how the movie has contained so much that includes THE IRON GIANT to HALO as each had come from a variety of nostalgia, even Spielberg lend a few self-references of film series like BACK TO THE FUTURE and JURASSIC PARK. However, the lack of character development prevents this feature from escalating into this year’s best film list. This particular flaw didn’t stop the movie from being lauded by critics as having improvements to the story-line which are not used in the original book.

The actors had some unique talent when being in a star-studded cast and their acting has been ranged from decent to terrific. Actors like Ben Mendehlson and Mark Rylance are no exceptions when they were truly capable on their own performances. Tye Sheridan remains the best of these performers and somehow he just went from being Cyclops of X-MEN to a non-superhero role of the main protagonist in a sci-fi film. 

Spielberg isn’t ready to retire just yet and READY PLAYER ONE is his new captivating masterpiece. It's not so much a good feature but actually worth-seeing and therefore is semi-decent. Many pop-cultural fans are excited to see the film again and so am I, you may have to wait until in the near future when the film comes out on Blu-ray, DVD and net-stream. 

Star rating: (7/10) Good Movie

Thursday, 17 May 2018

In Memory of Margot Kidder (1948-2018)

Margot Kidder (1948-2018)

The actress Margot Kidder has passed away in her sleep on May 14th 2018 at the age of 69. She was notable for her portrayal as Lois Lane in the original film series of 'Superman' and we always remember as the one and only actress who is capable of playing this sassy female character.

In her 20s, she started her acting career in television before venturing in cinematic roles. In 1978, she became famous as the ace reporter of the Daily Planet in 'Superman' opposite Christopher Reeve. Kidder and Reeve were largely unknown for these two leading characters and according to what she said in a 2004 interview that she and Reeve were like brother and sister and displayed both in affection and animosity for each other. Still, it would have been interesting for these two actors to have actually being wed as opposed to an on-screen chemistry that they’re having and this would have surprised all the moviegoers. She reprises the role again in three more movies before ending it with 'Superman IV: The Quest for Peace'. Other of her film roles include ‘Sisters’, ‘The Great Waldo Pepper’, ‘The Amityville Horror’, ‘Trenchcoat’, ‘Heartaches’, etc.

Over the years, Margot has appeared on television for smaller roles, guest appearances and voice-overs in shows include ‘Captain Planet’, ‘Phantom 2040’, ‘Smallville’ and ‘The Haunted Hour’. Unfortunately, she had some troubled experiences including her mental breakdown in 1996 which affected her acting career as it was slowly declining. It's a slight cruel world to miss such an actress whom despite her shortcomings, is really good at portraying some strong-willed female characters. She will be deeply missed and there’s no other actress who could portray Lois Lane better than Margot can.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Avengers: Infinity War Review

Avengers: Infinity War

Release Date: 25th April 2018 - Australia

Production Companies
Marvel Studios
Marvel Entertainment

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Australia

Genre: Action

Rating: M

Runtime: 149 minutes

Budget: $400,000,000

Box Office Gross: $1,167,710,610 (Worldwide) (This figure may change as new editions earn more money and increase the overall value of the box office gross)

Plot Summary
The Avengers and their super hero allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts and end to the universe.

Chris Evans - Steve Rogers/Captain America
Robert Downey, Jr. - Tony Stark/Iron Man
Mark Ruffalo - Bruce Banner/Hulk
Chris Hemsworth - Thor
Chris Pratt - Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Josh Brolin - Thanos
Scarlett Johansson - Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Don Cheadle - Lt. James Rhodes/War Machine
Benedict Cumberbatch - Doctor Strange
Tom Holland - Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Chadwick Boseman - T'Challa/Black Panther
Benedict Wong - Wong
Zoe Saldana - Gamora
Karen Gillan - Nebula
Tom Hiddleston - Loki
Paul Bettany - Vision
Elizabeth Olsen - Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Anthony Mackie - Sam Wilson/The Falcon
Sebastian Stan - Bucky Barnes/
Winter Solider 
Idris Elba - Hemdall
Danai Gurira - Okoye
Vin Diesel - Groot (Voice)
Bradley Cooper - Rocket Raccoon (Voice)
Gwyneth Paltrow - Pepper Potts
Dave Bastille - Drax the Destroyer
Pom Klementieff - Mantis
Peter Dinklage - Eitri
Benicio del Toro - The Collector
William Hurt - Secetary of State 
Thaddeus Ross
Letitia Wright - Shuri
Sean Gunn - On-Set Rocket
Terry Notary - Cull Obisidian/On-Set Groot
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor - Ebony Maw
Carrie Coon - Proxima Midnight
Michael James Shaw - Corvus Glaive
Winston Duke - M’Baku
Florence Kasumba - Ayo
Kerry Condon - Voice of Friday (Voice)
Monique Ganderton - On-Set Proxima Midnight
Jacob Batalon - Ned
Tiffany Espensen - Cindy
Isabella Amara - Sally
Ethan Dizon - Tiny
Ariana Greenblatt - Young Gamora
Ameenah Kaplan - Gamora's Mother
Ross Marquand - Red Skull 
Samuel L. Jackson - Nick Fury (Uncredited)
Cobie Smulders - Maria (Uncredited) 

Directors - Anthony & Joe Russo
Based on Comic Book Series "The Avengers"/Groot Creator/Executive Producer - Stan Lee
Based on Comic Book Series "The Avengers"/
Captain America and Groot Creator - Jack Kirby
Star-Lord/Mantis Creator - Steve Englehart 
Star-Lord Creator - Steve Gan
Gamora and Drax Creator - Jim Starlin

Groot Creator - Larry Lieber
Rocket Raccoon Creators - Bill Mantlo and 
Keith Giffen
Mantis Creator - Don Heck 
Screenplay - Christopher Markus and 
Stephen McFeely
Executive Producers - Louis D'Esposito, 
Jon Favreau, Michael Grillo, James Gunn 
and Trinh Tran
Producer - Kevin Feige
Co-Producer - Mitchell Bell
Production Designer - Charles Wood 
Costume Designer - Judianna Makovsky
Director of Photography - Trent Opaloch
Stunt Coordinator - Vic Armstrong
Fight/Stunt Coordinator - Sam Hargrave
Special Effects Supervisor - Patrick Edward White
Visual Effects Supervisors - Jeff Caprogeco, 
Dan DeLeeuw, Varun Hadkar, Laurie Pellard, 
Doug Spilatro
Visual Effects Supervisors: Weta Digital - Matt Aitken 
and Charlie Tait
Visual Effects Supervisor: ILM - Russell Earl
Animation Supervisor - Ben Wiggs
Animation Supervisor: ILM - Kevin Martel
Motion Capture/Movement Choreographer - Terry Notary 
Editors - Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schimdt
Music - Alan Silvestri

When THOR: RAGNAROK (click here) came out with acclaim in 2017 and so did BLACK PANTHER (click here) in the following year, both these films have strengthened the box office records while outperforming most features from Hollywood that aren’t even part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The hype has been getting larger and the wait is over for the new released film of AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR which the ongoing public have all been enthusiastic about. Better than AGE OF ULTRON (click here), it is the most dark and unexpected movie of the franchise that contains an melancholic cliff-hanger copied off from the same scenario as THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (click here). This ending is very heart-wrenching and it may shock and surprise everyone who isn’t a Marvel fan. 

INFINITY WAR has a deep emotional impact of the story-line and is heavily rewarded with action sequences and splendid visuals. Additions to the movie were the additional heroes that just crossed over from previous stand-alone films of MCU such as Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy, etc (with exception of a few like Ant-Man, The Wasp and Captain Marvel who all have forthcoming movies before they are yet to appear in the second part of the feature). All this in a huge movie with an excessive running time of 149 mins and it is even bigger than the first instalment of THE AVENGERS.

The actors are back in the large ensemble cast as the main and supporting characters for this largely structured and big-budgeted crossover. Josh Brolin is one of these actors and he now has a chance to portray the known villain Thanos at last after having been introduced to the character in a fewer early Marvel movies. Brolin gives all that he’s got to make the infamous Mad Titan look like a complex character with such extreme motives. This achieved in creating a more constantly threatening antagonist than MCU has envisioned on Killmonger and Loki. The music score was outstandingly perfect with the continuing collaborations of Alan Silvestri who was brought back to compose the third instalment of THE AVENGERS.

INFINITY WAR is a thrilling edge-of-a-seat experience and possibly the best movie of MCU that we come this far in hopes of seeing it. I recommend you watch the first two AVENGERS films before you can decide on which film you plan to see, if it'll be this one.

Star rating: (10/10) Best Movie Ever

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

In Memory of Verne Troyer (1969-2018)

Verne Troyer (1969-2018)

Verne Troyer, the diminutive actor known for his role as Mini-Me, the pint-sized clone of Dr. Evil in the ‘Austin Powers’ franchise has passed away at the age of 49 on April 21st 2018. He was considered as one of the shortest men in the world due to his condition of cartilage-hair hypolasia that resulted of him being 2 ft 8 inches (81 cm) tall. 

Troyer had started out his film career as a stunt double with some minor comedic roles in several films during the mid and late 1990s including ‘Baby’s Day Out’, ‘Dunston Checks In’, ‘Jingle All the Way’, ‘Men in Black’, etc. The small actor was approached by film director Jay Roach whom they had a discussion in portraying the character of Mini-Me in ‘Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me’  before filming could begin. Mike Myers, the film’s leading actor and his co-star was impressed with Troyer’s performance that he rewrote the script to add more screen time for Mini-Me and remove the character’s death. Three years later, Troyer reprises his role in ‘Austin Powers in Goldmember’ and joined with Myers again for ‘The Love Guru’

After his large success in the ‘Austin Powers’ franchise as Mini-Me, Troyer had portraying supporting and minor characters in several films including the goblin Griphook in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stoneand Percy in Terry Gilliam’s surrealistic movie ‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’. 

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

In Memory of R. Lee Ermey (1944-2018)

R. Lee Ermey (1944-2018)

Hello everyone, it’s been a while since I've done a news update on my blog. I’ve got sad news to tell you that R. Lee Ermey, a former U.S. marine and actor known for his iconic performance of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and his distinctive, commanding voice as the leader of the plastic army men Sarge in the ‘Toy Story’ series has died from complications of pneumonia at the age of 74 on April 15th 2018. 

He was born Ronald Lee Ermey in Kansas and served in eleven years in the Marine Corps before spending fourteen months in Vietnam and then in Okinawa, Japan where he was promoted to staff sergeant. Ermey’s first appearance in film was in ‘The Boys in Company C’ and in the following year, he was in a uncredited role of a helicopter pilot in Francis Ford Coppola’s war epic ‘Apocalypse Now’ while working as a technical advisor on set. Ermey was originally brought on as a technical consultant on ‘Full Metal Jacket’ where he convinced Stanley Kubrick through an instructional tape to cast him as the profane, sadistic drill instructor, even allowing him to ad-lib 50% percent of his dialogue in the film. This resulted his performance being worthy and acclaimed in the film and has earned Ermey an Golden Globe nomination as Best Supporting Actor. 

Ermey was usually typecast in roles of authority figures in such films as ‘Mississippi Burning’, ‘Se7en’, ‘On Deadly Ground’, ‘Toy Soliders’, ‘Prefontaine’, ‘Fletch Lives’ and ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. Emery even lent his voice talents as Sarge in the animated feature ‘Toy Storyas well as it’s two sequels and his television appearances in ‘The Simpsons’, ‘Family Guy’, ‘SpongeBob Squarepants’, ‘Miami Vice’, ‘Kim Possible’, ‘Scrubs’, ‘The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy’, etc. In addition to that, he also hosted two documentary series on the History Channel and a reality show on the Outdoor Channel in America.

Thank you for your service, R. Lee Emery and may you rest in peace, sir!