I was disappointed and somewhat annoyed by The Last Jedi, so like many others I suddenly felt cautious about a Star Wars movie the same way I’d felt cautious going to see Revenge of the Sith. This spin-off gives us an ‘early years’ snapshot of none other than Han Solo, which I’ll admit was an intriguing idea. Solo (a perfect Alden Ehrenreich) is from the off a likeable rogue who unwittingly gets signed up for the imperial infantry after getting separated from his love interest in the shape of Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke. However once amongst a rag tag group of soldiers he teams up with Woody Harrelson’s smuggler and also makes a new, hairy friend.
Directed by Ron Howard this is immediately entertaining and slickly made. It starts off energetically and barely lets up, with a sharp script that throws in several nods to the classic franchise as well as introducing us to a fun, twist filled caper. The banter between the characters is great, and I especially enjoyed the new droid L3, and how she’s a sort-of girlfriend to notorious womaniser Lando Calrissian! That train sequence is first rate also. However with a focus on smugglers and thieves and not so much the empire or any sort of rebellion, this has a different vibe than what we’ve seen before. The plot for what it is is simple though and the transporting of a valuable item from one group of people to another is only their to bring certain characters together. Yet the origins of the Millennium Falcon and some of Han’s boasted escapades (the kessel run?) was certainly fun to see play out.
A final twist proves overly confusing (unless you have indulged in any of the expanded universe), and Emilia Clarke is surprisingly bland. Thankfully then, this still nails it where it counts … adding its own flavour whilst managing to retain the feel of what a Star Wars movie should be.
I went into this with fairly low expectations. Even though a Terminator film had never completely let me down, with the weakest entry being Terminator 3, much of the early word on this wasn’t good. Add to this a trailer that seemed to show way too much … and I’ll admit I was nervous.
Luckily then the final movie is anything but a let down. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), the hero of the original movie is shown being sent back in time to 1984 to protect a young Sarah Connor, a supposedly naive waitress who is about to be hunted by an unstoppable killing machine. But twist alert! When Kyle arrives in the past, Sarah is already prepped for his arrival, and has her own personal Terminator bodyguard. You see, a new timeline has replaced what went before, and now the battle to destroy Skynet once and for all begins anew as our heroes embark on a time travelling quest that takes them to an alternate 2017 where Skynet is known as Genisys, a Windows-like operating system on the brink of going on-line.
I appreciated this new spin on the Terminator lore, and it worked brilliantly with respectful nods to the previous movies, whilst adding plenty of it’s own ideas. I loved getting to finally see the time machine used by Skynet to send the T-800 back, and nostalgia and some fan-service does this movie a real justice. The cast including Game Of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke, Die Hard 5’s Jai Courtney and Dawn of the Planet Of The Apes’ Jason Clarke all do a stellar job, and as a return to the franchise, ol’ Arnie is simply excellent – charismatic, funny and his aging status is well handled by the plot. The action may not compare favourably with Terminator 2 (it gets a bit nuts) and the effects work, whilst decent lacks that ground-breaking edge – but regardless this movie was exciting, imaginative and a lot of fun.. Emilia Clarke is well cast as Sarah Connor, bestowing the character with just the right balance of vulnerability and ballsy attitude. I also welcomed a small appearance by J.K. Simmons. The new twists on the time-lines also breathed life into a starting-to-get-tired concept, and overall for me … this was the best movie in the franchise since T2.
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