Solo: A Star Wars Story

In Hollywood there is no such phrase ‘too much of a good thing’. If said thing makes buckets of cash then the formula gets repeated until the well runs dry. The ‘Star Wars’ films are a great example. Spanning 8 films in the official saga and now 2 others in the ‘Star Wars universe’, the over-abundance of the franchise is plain to see. ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ continues the money-making machine. Whether the world really needed it is a moot point as the accompanying merchandising spin-offs will ensure it makes dollars despite what dour critics may say.

Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) is a cynical scoundrel flitting between one dodgy deal to the next. Part of a gang led by Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), Solo joins in any criminal deed going. When Beckett plans the ultimate heist, Solo is joined by shady opportunist Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and beastly Chewbacca. The motely-crew becomes caught between warring factions whilst attempting to steal huge loot in a world filled with galactic miscreants.

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ is a reasonable time-waster without being memorable. All the elements fans know and love are there with numerous nods to previous films. Ehrenreich and Glover successfully embody the well-known characters with roguish charm. The CGI is also amazing with the action sequences matching the dazzle seen elsewhere. Whilst the screenplay’s general familiarity is its main strength, it often becomes its weakness.

‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ suffers from not taking risks. This could be attributed to the strict producing of the Disney company or Ron Howard’s typical ‘safe pair of hands’ direction. Every story beat feels predictable with the villains not especially memorable. There isn’t much of a threat with the film suffering from most prequels in that audiences know the main characters survive to see future movies. Only the performances, CGI and action save it from being totally forgettable.

A middling entry in the Star Wars saga, ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ plays it safe for casual audiences and die-hard fans. It doesn’t add much to the overall series mythology and suffers from an air of pointlessness. As a slice of escapist entertainment it works but as a compelling entry in the saga it falters with the dark side of Hollywood greed just as deadly as any wayward Jedi mind-games.

Rating out of 10: 6

Deadpool 2

Since 1991, the Marvel comic anti-hero Deadpool has been a success. Offering frequently foul-mouthed monologues whilst battling a litany of villains, the character has found his own niche in the over-crowded superhero market. The 2016 ‘Deadpool’ film showed how popular he was with box offices flowing in rivers of dollars. Perhaps his unpredictable ways provide an antidote to the usual stoic heroism elsewhere. ‘Deadpool 2’ conjures another serving of subversive fun with Deadpool’s quips just as lethal as his fists.

Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is in a tight spot. Doing his best to save the world as the spandex wearing Deadpool, Wade’s current situation tests his mettle. Learning that Russell (Julian Dennison) has powerful supernatural abilities, Wade sets out to create a team for protection. That’s easier said than done when dangerous time-traveling mutant Cable (Josh Brolin) lands on his doorstep. Chaos swiftly follows as Wade dons the Deadpool outfit once again to fight for justice in his own peculiar fashion.

Deadpool fans should find much to enjoy in his latest caper. Whilst just as outrageously fun as its forebear, ‘Deadpool 2’ also charts new waters. Exploring the character’s amorality, the plot forces him to confront his choices. His teaming with Russell gives it an almost father/son relationship with Deadpool forming his own moral code as a consequence. That only scratches the surface of ‘Deadpool 2’s’ screenplay which has more depth than previously.

Although a darker entry, ‘Deadpool 2’ still has an abundance of high-octane action. All are spectacularly realised with the lashings of humour arriving thick and fast. Reynolds and his co-stars enter in the spirit of heightened reality with glee as the eye-popping cinematography succeeding in bringing the comic-book hero to life. Director David Leitch adds new beats to the formula and doesn’t rest on his laurels. He makes the most of the crazy situations with his eye for striking escapades clearly seen.

On a par with the first entry, ‘Deadpool 2’ delivers. Whilst the welcome mat used to greet the glut of superhero movies is looking pretty haggard, ‘Deadpool 2’ provides freshness amongst the crowd. The edgy escapism offers a good contrast to other safer heroes ensuring ‘Deadpool 3’ will likely burst onto screens soon.

Rating out of 10: 7