Ron Howard takes command of Han Solo movie!

An interesting development has occurred over the last few days related to the Star Wars anthology film focused on Han Solo. Originally, the film was well underway on the road to production with directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord, writers Jon and Lawrence Kasdan and stars such as Alden Ehrenreich as the title character with a supporting cast including Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Joonas Suotamo, Michael Kenneth Williams and Phoebe Waller-Bridge but dissention between Miller and Lord and the production team has forced the directors to abandon the project leaving the film in a state of standstill.

It didn’t take long for Kathleen Kennedy and her team of producers to find a suitable replacement to pilot the film. Today, it has been confirmed that Academy Award winning director Ron Howard will assume command of the Han Solo origin story.

Ron Howard has certainly enjoyed a great deal of success throughout his career. His body of work as a filmmaker includes prestigious films such as Backdraft, Cocoon, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, Frost/Nixon, Rush; he certainly has the clout and the creative spirit to shape the origin story of the character who would become an important figure in the Star Wars universe. Personally, I think Kathleen Kennedy and the Star Wars production team missed out on an opportunity to hand the film to a director of color or a woman but I’m willing to give Ron Howard a chance with this project.

The Han Solo movie will arrive in theaters by May 25, 2018.

Review: The Mummy

I bet there was a time or two in your life when you and your family made an excursion to your local museum, paid the price of admission to get in, passed through the Ancient Egypt exhibit and saw an actual mummy in a sarcophagus encased in an airtight encasing. I’m also willing to wager, that while you were gawking at the decomposing dead person and his/her fancy-schmancy coffin, you were probably thinking “wow. A dead person. What fun!” in the most sarcastic manner while you were on looking.

This reboot of The Mummy is as exciting as looking at a mummy, in its coffin, gathering dust, in a glass case at a museum. Director Alex Kurtzman takes audiences on an expedition across three countries in the span of thousands of years centering on two individuals from different eras bound together by a sinister plot to bring the ultimate evil on Earth.

Tom Cruise is Nick Morton, the unsuspected and unfortunate fool who unearthed Princess Ahmenet, played by Sofia Boutella, a disgraced Egyptian princess who was eager to get into bed with the god of death in order to assume the mantle of Pharaoh in her time but she was stopped before her designs were set into motion. When Ahmenet is freed, she binds Morton to her with a curse in order for him to do her bidding and complete her plans.

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Image by Universal Pictures

If this movie were made maybe 30 years ago, it may have had a higher impact on audiences but this new mummy is so old-fashioned its practically dead on arrival, emphasis on dead!

Writers David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman did their hardest to incorporate some old-fashioned monster movie nostalgia in a modern-day setting to jumpstart what Russell Crowe’s Dr. Jekyll calls “A new world of gods and monsters” but with the clichés, flimsy characters, ridiculous plot holes and straining story, this “new world” in this “Dark Universe” looks very bleak.

I’m not exactly a fan of Tom Cruise as it is, but he certainly didn’t do any favors himself in this movie. He’s a reputable action star but he just doesn’t excite me as a leading man and his character is just so poorly constituted as well.

Some players never really had a chance to flex their chops in this movie themselves such as Courtney B. Vance, while others were left at the mercy of bad writing and execution like Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson and Marwan Kenzari. The only actor who actually held interest for me while watching this flop was Boutella.

Ben Seresin’s cinematography was mediocre, the editing of Paul and Gina Hirsch and Andrew Mondshein was all over the place, Bryan Tyler’s score was unspectacular, the visual effects were so cheesy, it hindered whatever appeal this film had going for it, I didn’t mind the production design courtesy of Jon Hutman and Dominic Waktins, and I especially liked the make-up applied to Boutella’s character.

To say that I was unimpressed by this film is an understatement. The Mummy was better off in its sarcophagus and left beneath the sands.

Movie of the Week: The Mummy

Ever hear the phrase “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned?” That should be the moral of this week’s featured film for this woman seeks to bring hell on earth! Princess Ahmenet was once destined for greatness until circumstances robbed her of her chance to achieve them and so she was buried deep beneath the sands of Egypt. Millennia later, her slumber was disturbed by an unsuspecting individual who will now play victim to her wrath upon the Earth and her wrath is practically biblical! Once a beautiful and powerful ruler-to-be, Princess Ahmenet is now The Mummy!

Director: Alex Kurtzman

Screenwriters: David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie and Dylan Kussman

Starring: Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe, Annabelle Wallis, Courtney B. Vance, Jake Johnson and Marwan Kenzari.

What am I expecting to see?: This movie is set to be quite the kickstarter for Universal Pictures as they unveil their new Dark Universe movie-monster franchise. Truth be told, I’m not holding my breath for something awesome with this remake of The Mummy, I happen to be familiar with the previous remake-turned-trilogy from 1999 and I’m not a Tom Cruise fan, but the fact that director Alex Kurtzman chose to reboot this franchise with a female Mummy fascinates me enough to give this a try. Best case-scenario: this movie will sell me on this new Dark Universe franchise.

Review: Wonder Woman

I’ve had a good reason to be hard on the efforts of the DC Extended Universe over the past few years; especially last year considering my thoughts on their previous two pictures: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad. This year, the producers of the DC Extended Universe look to turn the page on last year and seek to do so with their first superhero adventure starring Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.

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Image by Warner Bros. and DC Comics

The film opens with Gadot as Diana Prince who receives a parcel from a new friend that compels her to reminisce on her earlier years. From her upbringing on the island of Themiscyra, home to the Amazons, where she was raised by her mother Queen Hippolyta, trained by her aunt Antiope, and encountered a man named Steve Trevor, who would guide her to the world of man on a journey that would change her life and the world at large forever.

To reiterate: I’ve been hard on the DC Extended Universe and I had good reason to be so. Their previous films have compelled me to set the bar low on their films going forward and I had to go into Wonder Woman with a low set of expectations. That being said, I must be blunt: THIS. MOVIE. IS. GOOD!

I must give credit where credit is due. Producers Geoff Johns, Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Charles Roven, director Patty Jenkins and screenwriter Allan Heinberg crafted a solid origin story with coming-of-age themes that culminated in a very engaging, charming and the most entertaining DC movie to come out in years! I was satisfied with how they handled this movie; it wasn’t perfect but this was a great effort that really paid off!

I thought that the strength of this movie lied solely with Gadot’s performance meshed with Heinberg’s script and Jenkins’ execution. Wonder Woman is basically looking at the outside world with the perspective of childlike innocence, guided by a man who exposes her to the good and bad that a world at war has to offer someone who doesn’t exactly need to help.

If Gadot’s introduction in Batman v. Superman didn’t sell you on her ability to embody this iconic character, than this movie will most assuredly convince you! It was a treat watching her carry this movie and her on-screen chemistry with Chris Pine is splendid! Whether Diana is trying ice cream for the first time or feels concern or sympathy for the wounded soldiers on No Man’s Land, she just embodies the strength, compassion and innocence in this iconic character and she is relatable to audiences.

While I enjoyed watching this film, I only wish that the film could have done more with the supporting characters such as Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Saïd Taghmaoui, Ewen Bremmer, Eugene Brave Rock, Lucy Davis, Elena Anaya, Danny Huston and David Thewlis. I also hoped that the film would take more time to explore and examine Themiscyra, the Amazons and their cultures.

The cinematography of Matthew Jensen was solid, Rupert Gregson-Williams’ music was satisfactory, Martin Walsh’s editing was solid, the production design of Aline Bonetto was good, Lindy Hemming’s costumes were very good, the visual effects were to my liking and technically Wonder Woman was very well put-together to give this character the strength to stand on her own.

Wonder Woman clearly raised the bar for films coming from the DC Extended Universe because what separates this movie from the films that came before it: fun! This movie allowed itself to have its own natural fun and that allowed the audience to have fun watching it; this is leaps and bounds better than any DC film that came before it!

Movie of the Week: Wonder Woman

For too long, the fight against the forces of evil has been spearheaded by men. The greatest heroes who have fought for humanity against foes driven to bring hurt and pain to the innocent are great men, but still men. The time has come for a woman to rise against those who would do harm to those who cannot protect themselves. It is time. It is her time! The Princess of Themiscyra, with shield on one arm, a sword in her hand, and a mystic lasso at her hip will rise to bring an end to the war that will end all wars. Diana’s crusade for justice is only the beginning of a journey that will place her in a league of her own. This is the story of a new age of heroism. This is the tale of Wonder Woman.

Director: Patty Jenkins

Written by: Allan Heinberg

Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Elena Anaya, Lucy Davis, Florence Kasumba, Ewen Bremmer, and Saïd Taghmaoui.

What am I expecting to see?: The last three films produced from the DCEU have underwhelmed to say the least, especially the films that flew under Warner Bros. and DC Comics from last year, so Wonder Woman is going in with an advantage of a low-bar already set. In the limited time we’ve seen her in the role already, Gal Gadot has done enough to sell audiences on her as Wonder Woman and now that she has this feature film to elevate herself, I’m hoping that she has clout to seize this initiative of being a powerhouse film hero in her own right.

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Captain Jack Sparrow has led a very colorful life pilfering and plundering his way through the high seas and seedy ports around the world. There was a time when the world wanted to know what this practically peculiar privateer would do next after a grand adventure but now, it is evident that that time has washed away with the tides.

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Image by Disney

In the fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean saga, titled Dead Men Tell No Tales, Captain Jack has run afoul of some very harsh misfortune. Meaning, he’s broke, he hardly has a crew anymore and he still hasn’t managed to get his beloved Black Pearl out of that bottle from the last movie. To make matters worse, Jack’s reckless actions have awakened an army of ghosts, led by a Spanish pirate-hunter named Salazar, hell-bent on casting every buccaneer, marauder and freebooter to Davy Jones’ locker-or is it Will Turner’s locker since Davy Jones is dead and Will has replaced him? Who knows!

Anyway, Captain Jack’s only hope to save himself? He must ally with Henry Turner, the adult son of Will and Elizabeth, and the beautiful and headstrong woman of science Carina Smith to find the Trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact that will endow upon its holder total command of the seas.

When the end credits started rolling on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, someone tried to gauge my thoughts on the film and all I could tell them was: “Listen, I’m just thankful it’s over!” I want to let you know that this is not my official reflection of the film, but the franchise in general since this is supposed to be the final adventure of the series.

Officially, I found this movie drudgingly unnecessary and mildly mediocre. I will admit that it was nice seeing Captain Jack, Gibbs and Barbossa again and I was willing for this franchise to shanghai me aboard for one last adventure on the high seas but while I was watching this, it dawned on me that I just outgrew this franchise; the magic and the appeal had waned; also I found it convenient that this movie had ghost sharks because with this movie this franchise definitely jumped over them!

I thought this movie had continuity errors, had a lack of balance in the subplots between the characters, had twists that strained credulity and what’s more it had me asking why didn’t anyone come up with this “Trident” concept two movies ago? Why couldn’t they just leave the franchise with the ending from the third movie where everything was just full circle and tied everything together nicely rather than force this happy ending from this installment upon audiences? I just couldn’t comprehend why the producers of this movie couldn’t leave well enough alone?!

Johnny Depp is business as usual as Captain Jack Sparrow, Geoffrey Rush as a well-to-do Barbossa was okay, Kevin McNally, Martin Klebba, Stephen Graham were faces I didn’t mind seeing again and it was cool that they brought Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley back. As for the newcomers to the story Javier Bardem steps into the CGI-aided role of Salazar and even though he has a reputation of playing a damn good villain, I feel as though he phones it in due to poor writing courtesy of Jeff Nathanson. Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario and Golshifteh Farahani did alright as well. Even Sir Paul McCartney snuck aboard! That was a hoot for a minute.

Directors Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg’s efforts to try and put wind back into the sails of this franchise were wasted. Paul Cameron’s cinematography, Roger Barton and Leigh Folsom Boyd’s editing, Geoff Zanelli’s score, Nigel Phelps’ production design, Penny Rose’s costumes, the art direction, the visual effects; everything technical is just more of what you’ve seen before.

I for one hope that Dead Men Tell No Tales is the farewell voyage of the Pirates of the Caribbean saga even though it had some post-credits scene I didn’t bother to stick around to see! The era of Captain Jack has come and gone; he has the Pearl back and I pray that Disney will leave him be from this day forward!

Movie of the Week: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

The swashbuckling Disney franchise that set sail on the high seas 14 years ago will come to a close (finally)! Captain Jack Sparrow has lived an “exhilarating” life to say the least. One could call it a true Pirates Life but his greatest adventure before him draws back to the past when Captain Salazar leads an army of the dead across the seven seas on the hellbent mission to exterminate every able bodied man or woman who sails under pirate colors. Salazar, like many, bears a grudge against Captain Jack and our heroic and plucky pirate hero’s only salvation is a mythic artifact that could turn the tides of the ocean forever. Sailing into theaters this weekend is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

Directors: Espen Sandberg and Joachim Rønning

Writer: Jeff Nathanson

Staring: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Steven Graham, Kevin McNally, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario, Golshifteh Farahani, Sir Paul McCartney, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley

What am I expecting to see?: I honestly love the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and the kooky lead character of Captain Sparrow but this franchise needs to end in the worst way and I thank heavens that Dead Men Tell No Tales will end it! I hope this is entertaining, it brings the right amount of closure to this series and it ends on a high note. This is a great cast of actors and I don’t want to see any of their talents go to waste. I’ve been looking forward to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales for a while now and I hope it is everything that I ask for.