Jun 262018
two reels

Clark Kent (Jerry O’Connell) is worried about his relationship with Lois Lane (Rebecca Romijn), and vise versa, as his secret identity is getting in the way. Meanwhile, Lex Luther (Rainn Willson) has discovered a strange object hurtling toward Earth and he speculates that this may be his way to get back at Superman. The object crashes into the sea, and releases Doomsday. The rest of the Justice League (Rosario Dawson, Nathan Fillion, Christopher Gorham, Matt Lanter, Shemar Moore, Nyambi Nyambi, Jason O’Mara) take on Doomsday, but it will be up to Superman to deal with the monster in the end.

Why did they choose this story to animate? The Death of Superman is known as one of the worst stories in comics history. It was a cheap, sleazy cash grab. The story was barely a story: Big troll shows up and punches Superman to death; the end. Doomsday is one of the dullest DC villains. He has no personality and even a bland design. The only plus, and this is certainly not clearly a good thing, is that at the time it was first published, people actually thought that DC might kill off Superman for good. Sounds silly, but I remember this. But we know now that he’s just going to pop back up, so in a story where Superman dying is all that there is, the fact that we know that he doesn’t leaves us with nothing.

Ah, but there’s more. They already did it. In 2007, DC animation produced Superman/Doomsday, which is based on The Death of Superman comic. If that wasn’t enough, Superman was killed at the end of the live action Batman v Superman after fighting Doomsday, and came back in Justice League. So, it’s been done to death…

Yet here we go again, and it’s about as good as it could have been, which isn’t that good. The animation is a few steps up from Superman/Doomsday, though a few steps down from what we’d expect in a theatrical release. The voice talent is solid, with O’Connell, Romijn, and Fillion (in a long cameo) as standouts, giving their characters the emotion needed for a story so low on plot. And the dialog isn’t embarrassing.

Since the main plot is just one never-ending battle (so long… so very long), the video is filled out with the relationship tension between Lois and Clark. This might have worked in 1950 or 1960, but we are fifty years too late to do a “Gosh, Clark has a secret” story. We all know his secret. We’ve all know how Lois will react. You can’t build tension when everyone watching knows everything that’s going to happen. (Sure, they might assume a couple five-year-olds don’t yet know about them, but if that’s the target, then maybe cut the vulgarities).

Much like the recent Justice League film, The Death of Superman brings home how silly the Justice League is as an organization, or how pointless any superhero not named Superman is. All of them combined are but a bug next to the blue boy scout. That fact makes the first part of the overly long fight even worse as the rest of the League apparently are the worst strategists in history.

It ends as the comics did, which means there’s a part 2 coming next year: Reign of the Supermen. And they’ve set it up to play out just like the comics, which I’ve been told repeatedly by Superman fans is probably the second worst Superman story…after this one.

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Jun 192018
  June 19, 2018

de-havillandHer stage role in A Midsummer Night’s Dream led to the movie of the same name, and by the same director, and that led her to a contract with Warner Bros. Her later conflict with the studio resulted in a court case that gave all actors more freedom.

Her most frequent co-star was Errol Flynn. They worked together in eight films: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Captain Blood (1935), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), Dodge City (1939), Four’s a Crowd (1938), The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), Santa Fe Trail (1940), and They Died with Their Boots On (1941), and appeared separately in a ninth film, Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943).

She was frequently directed by Michael Curtiz, who she hated as a tyrant, though she admitted that he was a great director who know how to tell stories.

Two of her most acclaimed films don’t make my list. The Heiress gets by on one memorable speech, but the rest is slow and unengaging; it contains one of the worst performances in the golden age of film as Montgomery Clift searches for an accent. As for The Snake Pit, the music is bombastic and it is edited like a ‘50s exploitation thriller. It is one of those films that got credit for its social effect; it was responsible for improvements in the US mental health system. It was more important than great.

First, a dishonorable mention for her weak silly performance as Melanie in the atrocious Gone with the Wind (full review here).

And an honorable mention for The Dark Mirror, where de Havilland gives one of her best performances as a pair of twins, one evil. It gets a bit silly and becomes far too predictable, but it has a nice Noir style.

#8 – Light in the Piazza (1962) — A surprising good film they’d never make today. Olivia de Havilland plays the mother of a girl whose brain injury keeps her as a mental ten-year-old. Now beautiful and in her twenties, she catches the eye of a rich and suave Italian who is attracted to her love of life. de havilland wins on acting, but Yvette Mimieux and George Hamilton steal the picture based on pure charisma. This is a thoughtful and romantic film.

#7 – The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936) — The least of the major British-in-colonial-India adventure films, mainly due to the weak romance (poor Olivia de Havilland gets stuck with the worst role of her career). It is also bizarrely historically inaccurate (they didn’t even get the guns right, much less the reason for the charge) and the production was so vile it caused animal welfare laws to be passed. But Errol Flynn is charming, the combat exciting, and it all looks spectacular. [Also on the Errol Flynn list]

#6 – Four’s a Crowd (1938) — Errol Flynn is a charming cad who runs positive PR for the worst people and de Havilland is the spoiled and silly daughter of one of those terrible people. It’s a romantic comedy that also includes Rosalind Russell and Flynn & de Havilland’s frequent co-star, Patric Knowles. [Also on the Errol Flynn list]

#5 – My Cousin Rachel (1952) — A gothic love story and mystery. Is de Havilland a murderess or is Philip just a fool? Well, Philip is certainly a fool in any case. Richard Burton seems too old for the part of a naive youth (Burton never appeared young), but is still compelling. de Havilland is stunning, and I can believe Philip falling instantly for her.

#4 – It’s Love I’m After (1937) — An unfairly forgotten farce, with Leslie Howard as a ham actor in a tempestuous relationship with Bette Davis’s equally over-the-top actress. (It was their third collaboration). Olivia de Havilland, looking like a teenager, plays a girl obsessed by Howard’s Basil Underwood. Both Howard and Davis are naturals at playing hams.

#3 – The Great Garrick (1937) — One of the best comedies of ’37, in which a band of French actors attempt to humiliate the English star David Garrick by pretending to be all of the workers and guests at a country inn, but things become complicated when an unconnected woman (Olivia de Havilland) stumbles into their performance. The supporting cast, including Edward Everett Horton, are as good as the leads.

#2 – Captain Blood (1935) — The first of the de Havilland/Flynn films and the first true Swashbuckler of the Sound era. Errol Flynn is a physician forced into piracy and she’s the governor’s daughter. (Full Critique) [Also on the Errol Flynn list and Basil Rathbone list]

#1 – The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) — The greatest classic Swashbuckler and one of the Best films ever made. It is beautifully shot, with a wonderful score and a strong supporting cast, including de Havilland. It is here that Errol Flynn became an icon. (Full Critique) [Also on the Errol Flynn list and Basil Rathbone list]


Back to all Best Films By The Great Actors Lists

Jun 142018
  June 14, 2018

Music can make or break a movie. This was unknown in the late 1920s when talkies began; it was assumed audiences wouldn’t accept music without an onscreen source. But they learned, and film became better for it. I wanted to take a look at my favorite film composers (and simply figure out who are my favorites).

I’m saying “favorite” instead of “best” because I don’t feel I have the qualifications to say the latter. I’m reasonably knowledgeable on film and feel confident in making qualitative statements on the art form, but I haven’t studied music and don’t know the language nor the nuances. I can say how a piece of music affects the plot or emotion of a film, but I don’t want to limit this discussion to how well a score worked in a film, so “favorite” it is.

I started going the standard route and making a top 10, but my list grew to more than ten, and I found myself comparing composers I’d rather separate—particularly when the 3 fighting for the top spot were each from a different era. So, I ended up with a top 6 list (six seemed like a nice number) for each of the Golden, Silver, and Modern ages.

The Golden Age
The Silver Age
The Modern Age


My Favorite Golden Age Composers

The Golden Age of Film Composition roughly equates to the Golden Age of Hollywood, running from the very late 1920s to 1960. It was a time when studios controlled filmmaking and composers worked on a weekly salary, rattling off scores on an assembly line, without any ownership of their work. It was also a time when these composers were assured of work, had studios and musicians on hand to work with as well as other composers to bounce things off of. And since the studio owned all, composers could take a melody from one work and insert it into another, giving it their own spin, or six composers could all work simultaneously on a score. This meant that low budget films could have amazing scores that aren’t possible today.

The studios rejected modern (for the 1930s) symphonic music trends, as well as pop music (except in musicals), instead bringing back a more romantic orchestral style.

Another way to define The Golden Age would be as the era of Max Steiner. No one really knew what to do with music when the talkies began—notice how many films didn’t have any. Producers thought audiences wouldn’t accept music without a source, and besides, if there’s dialog, what do you need music for? It was Max Steiner who answered that question with his score to King Kong. Music could mirror, magnify, or simply create the emotion needed for a scene.

Honorable mentions go to Dimitri Tiomkin (High Noon) and Miklós Rózsa (The Thief of Bagdad), the two members of the Golden Age pantheon of film composers who didn’t make my top 6.

My Top 6:

Max Steiner

(The Big Sleep, Adventures Of Don Juan, King Kong)
A child prodigy and grandson of Richard Strauss, Steiner was conducting by age twelve, and composing by fifteen. His career took off in London, but WWI forced him to move to the US where he was a successful conductor of Broadway shows before moving to Hollywood in ’29 and setting the course of film music for the next thirty years. Some later critics have derided him, the Father of Film Music, for sticking with the rules, but then, they were his own rules.


Franz Waxman

(The Bride of Frankenstein, The Philadelphia Story, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde)
Classically trained, but also skilled in pop music, Waxman worked as an orchestrator in the German film industry until he was attacked by Nazis due to his Jewish heritage. James Whale knew of his work in Germany and brought him in to score The Bride of Frankenstein. For a time he was the head of Universal’s music department, but he gave that up to focus on composition.


Bernard Herrmann

(The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, North by North West, The Day the Earth Stood Still)
Herrmann was know for being brilliant, having an economic style, and being a pain in the ass. He hated title songs for movies, so wouldn’t do them. He was known to belittle his colleagues and was disliked by several of the other composers on my list. He made his name as a conductor and composer on radio, where he worked with Orson Welles and it was Welles who pulled him into Hollywood. Later he worked with Hitchcock, creating some of the most honored scores ever, and greatly enhancing the films. In the late ‘50s and ‘60s he composed a series of memorable works for science fiction and fantasy films, but after he fell out of favor, both due to his refusal to change with the times and his abrasive personality.


Alfred Newman

(The Mark of Zorro, The Prisoner of Zenda, Airport)
Another child prodigy, Newman’s best known work now is the 20th Century Fox Fanfare (you know, how Star Wars starts…). Growing up in a time when everyone wasn’t insane about keeping children wrapped in cotton, Newman was a paid classical pianist at twelve, on the vaudeville circuit when he was thirteen, and an orchestra conductor at fifteen. He worked with the best of the best on Broadway, and accompanied Irving Berlin to Hollywood in 1930, where he became the Godfather of Film Music. He is almost the anti-Herrmann, as he was known to be polite and generous, with the ability to change his style to fit the occasion, and was respected and held in awe by those who worked under him. For decades, his was the last word in film music (even over Steiner).


Hans J. Salter & Frank Skinner

(The Wolf Man, The Son of Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon)
Skinner was a swing-band composer from the Midwest while Salter was a classically trained Austrian who’d come to California to escape the Nazi’s, and they meshed perfectly. The team collaborated on dozens of films while under contract with Universal pictures, who then reused their melodies in many other films (later Mummy and Sherlock Holms movies simply repeat their earlier scores). It is difficult to say how much of Universal’s music of the ’30s and ’40s they were responsible for as they went uncreditied–and when credited, the credits are often wrong, naming only one or the other–but several hundred is a good guess. They were the backbone of Universals music department and wrote for all genres (Salter was proudest of his work in musicals), but it is their work in 1930s/40s monster movies for which they are best remembered now. Each was later nominated for Academy Awards, but that work wasn’t as innovative as their incredible earlier works.


Erich Wolfgang Korngold

(The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk, Captain Blood)
Yes, yet another child prodigy—Mahler declared him a genius at age 9, he composed a ballet at 11, and his operas were in production by the time he was 18. He was an acclaimed classical composer. When asked to compose for film, he was excited by the prospect, as it was a new form, yet romantic like his opera work. Famously, Robin Hood saved his life as the job caused him to get on a train right before the Nazis came. Korngold was a different level for film scoring and changed how film scoring was seen—people now accepted it as art. He worked differently than most film composers, without synchronizing points; he simply watched the film and composed. No one has ever done it better. He is the inspiration for the best modern film composers (John Williams has stated that his Star Wars scores were directly influenced by Korngold).



My Favorite Silver Age Composers

The idea of a “Silver Age” of film music can be considered a marketing gimmick. The term was apparently first used by a CD house as a way of grouping ‘60s and ‘70s scores in sales brochures, but it is a useful distinction. The Golden Age was defined by a style of romanticism and by creation under strict control by the studios. The Silver Age, then, was when composers broke free of studio control (as well as support) and when jazz became a major factor. Scores tended to either be influenced by pop jazz or be written for the sweeping dramas that were popular at the time. If the Golden Age was the era of Max Steiner, then the Silver Age was the era of Henry Mancini. It faded out when John Williams became the most prominent figure.

Honorable mention goes to Earnest Gold (Exodus), who could never repeat that success.

My Top 6:

Neal Hefti

(Barefoot in the Park, How to Murder Your Wife, The Odd Couple)
It doesn’t get more Silver Age than Hefti. His background was not in classical music, but as a swing and jazz trumpeter. He played with Woody Herman and wrote the arrangements for Count Basie, before leading his own big band. He wrote both for film and television, always with a light, springy flair. His most significant impact on pop culture was the theme to The Odd Couple—that played non-stop for the entire ‘70s—and the theme to the TV show, Batman. (Note: Hefti has a version of The Odd Couple theme with lyrics… Avoid it).


Maurice Jarre

(Lawrence of Arabia, The Man Who Would Be King, Lion of the Desert)
Jarre trained at the Conservatoire de Paris; he was an orchestral composer, though strangely turned to synthesizers in his later years. It was his early work that defines him. He continued well into the Modern Age, but in the end it is all about one movie, and really, one theme. He’s the man who wrote the notes that will describe T.E. Lawrence for eternity, and that’s not a bad legacy.


Akira Ifukube

(Godzilla, The Three Treasures, Children of Hiroshima)
Radiation exposure forced him to abandon physical labor and become a composer. Brought up around the traditional music of Japan, Ifukube merged this style with Western classical music. He was mainly interested in creating orchestral works, but he took on work in the film world and had a particular flair for marches. While he composed for 250 movies, in the West he is almost exclusively known for his Godzilla scores.


Henry Mancini

(The Pink Panther, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, A Shot in the Dark)
That he played with the Glenn Miller Orchestra should surprise no one. That he learned film composing under the care of Hans J. Salter & Frank Skinner (check out the Golden Age above) as part of Universal’s in-house team is far less obvious. He supposedly had a good deal of input on the score for The Creature From the Black Lagoon. But his swing/jazz side re-emerged while writing pop songs and teaming with Blake Edwards on a series of comedies.


John Barry

(Zulu, Goldfinger, Body Heat)
Barry is the man who put James Bond to music. He was a jazz trumpeter who picked up work as an arranger, and later composer. The Bond folks brought him in to fix the main theme (for legal reasons he is credited as the orchestrator on that song), and then a year later to step in for a pop musician who it turned out couldn’t read music. After that, the next eleven Bond films were his. His style was a blend of classical—particularly Russian classical—and jazz.


Elmer Bernstein

(The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape, The Ten Commandments)
Bernstein arranged music for Glenn Miller before starting a career as a concert pianist, a career that was cut short by a call from Hollywood. However, the House Un-American Activities Committee derailed that for a few years until he was hired to score The Man With the Golden Arm, and ushered in the Silver Age. His twisting jazz was a revelation to the film world and made him much in demand. He was equally at home with large orchestras and epic themes, finding inspiration from Aaron Copland (who had championed him at a young age). His Western scores feel strongly of Copland. He in turn became an inspiration for Horner, Goldsmith and Williams of the Modern Age.


My Favorite Modern Age Composers

The Modern Age of Film Composition can be sloppy to define and it often simply means “after the studio system died,” but that leaves a lot of different styles, and a whole lot of time. I’m using the notion of a Silver Age, in which case, the Modern Age began in the late ‘70s. It was a time when jazzy scores were going out of style, and while a bit of electronica and rock were edging in. But mainly it was the return to the bold and thematic symphonic works that had marked the Golden Age. I connect it to the emergence of the tentpole popcorn film. The pivotal scores were not written for dramas, or war films, or religious epics as had been previously the case, but for science fiction and fantasy films. It is the age of John Williams.

I fear at times that the Modern Age has ended, and we don’t know it yet (Williams is no spring chicken) and the new age is one of pure bombast, with Han Zimmer as the new icon… And no one wants that.

Honorable mention: James Horner (Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan).
My Top 6:

Danny Elfman

(Batman, Nightbreed, Sleepy Hollow)
While the Modern Age composers tend to have classical training, Elfman is different. While expressing an interest in the earlier film composers, he came from a rock and ska band. He only wrote for film because his brother directed a low budget picture, but that lead to Tim Burton asking him to compose the score for Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure—the start of a long and successful collaboration. His scores feel one part Korngold, one part Silver Age Herrmann, and one part pop.


Alan Silvestri

(Back to the Future, The Abyss, The Avengers)
Silvestri is a prime example of the Modern Age, and follows in the footsteps of Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams, though he doesn’t go as strongly for the personal themes the way the others do, and so, is a touch less memorable. He is best known for his work on Robert Zemekis films, writing the scores for 16 of them.


Christopher Young

(Hellraiser, Hush, The Glass House)
Young was a jazz drummer before discovering the film scores of Bernard Herrmann. He created a “heavy” sound that he uses in many of his soundtracks. He primarily works on horror films. While effective, his works are not always memorable, blending together. His standout is his amazing work on Hellraiser.


Basil Poledouris

(Conan The Barbarian, Starship Troopers, Flesh & Blood)
The master of orchestral power, Poledouris took his inspiration from the Golden Age’s Miklós Rózsa. While he worked repeatedly with Paul Verhoeven, his defining collaboration was with writer/director John Millus (who was never accused of being subtle, or sane). Poldeouris’s brawny style fit Millus’s he-man sensibilities, resulting in his masterpiece, the score to Conan, which I judge as the finest score of the ‘80s, and arguably of the Modern Age. Unfortunately Poledouris couldn’t retain that level—there simply weren’t enough epic films. Imagine what he could have done with The Lord of the Rings.


Jerry Goldsmith

(Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Mummy, Patton)
Jerry Goldsmith started deep in the Silver Age—his soundtracks for the Flint films are filled with playful pop jazz that fits next to Hefti and Mancini. He had no problem diverging from the norm, such as with his score for Planet of the Apes and Alien. But in the end I had to place him on the Modern list as his best known score, that for Star Trek: The Motion Picture, is, after Williams’s Star Wars score, the work that most exemplifies the era. He started composing and arranging for CBS radio, and then Television, before turning to film in 1957.


John Williams

(Jurrassic Park, Star Wars, Superman)
As the defining composer of the Modern Age, Williams did it right, by training with the major figures of the earlier ages. As an orchestrator, he worked with the Golden Age’s Waxman, Herrmann, and Newman. As a studio pianist, he performed under the Silver Age’s Bernstein and Mancini. Skilled in Jazz, his earlier work leans toward the Silver Age, but he burst out with compositions that called back to the romanticism of the Golden Age. His style is a reflection of Korngold, while his philosophy his pure Steiner.

Jun 082018
one reel

A nun commits suicide at an abbey known for evil activities. The Vatican sends mystery-solving Father Burke (Demian Bichir) and clairvoyant Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) to investigate. The nuns of the abbey are all weird, some paranoid and abrasive and some ghostly and evil. Their only help comes from Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), a local who found the body of the nun. As soon as they arrive, a non-stop sting of random ghostly/demonic events occur, the sort that would lead anyone to get the hell out of Dodge immediately, but they stick around so that more random ghostly/demonic things can happen.

The Conjuring films, based on the writings of a pair of sleazy conmen who lied about “demonic activity,” were extremely successful, so New Line Cinema has made and is making a string of sequels and prequels, jettisoning the claim that any of this is true. The Nun is the latest, taking a minor evil from The Conjuring 2 and Annabelle: Creation and giving it a back-story. And you end up with what you’d expect from a cash-grab film in a lucrative franchise. It’s got a decent budget and a skilled cast and crew. The sets are great and they’re obviously using good equipment. And either these are great actors or director Corin Hardy knows how to milk the best from mediocre ones.

But with all that good stuff, we’re still stuck with a film that had no reason to be made. They didn’t have a story to tell. So they came up with a vague foundation, and then filled in most of the runtime with “evil stuff happens.” There’s no reason for any specific thing. The priest gets attacked early on and buried in a coffin. Why? Why not just kill him if you can dig a grave, drag a guy in, and fill in the dirt? Blood flows on the stairs, just because. Visions occur (so many visions), but except for one dealing with Mary, none of them matter. Some ghost nuns want to talk while other ghost nuns very much don’t. Why? There’s no way to tell if something is dangerous because anything can happen. I wonder if any of this stuff was scripted before they started shooting, or if they just came in each day and said, “Hey, what can the makeup people and set dressers do that will look cool or at least scary?” But it isn’t scary because it is so random. Horror needs a structure, and something approaching rules.

Also, if you are going to steal your big moment, steal from something better than a Tales From the Crypt movie.

They had everything they needed to make a first class horror film, except a story and a theme, and it turns out those are important.

Jun 032018
three reels

In order to earn enough money to rescue Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), the girl he left behind, Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) teams up with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and they join a gang of bandits led by Beckett (Woody Harrelson). When the job goes south, they are forced to take on a more dangerous heist for mob boss Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), this time with the aid of Qi’ra, who now works for Vos, and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover).

By the time I post this, the world has formed its opinion on Solo: A Star Wars Story, and that opinion is “Meh,” Which is too bad as it deserves better. Not a lot better, but better. It is a fun actioner, with plenty of scenes of mayhem and explosions and shootouts, putting it far ahead of any recent Bond film. And it doesn’t make any big mistakes. It has far fewer flaws than most of the previous franchise films. Specifically, the acting is solid, which is something that a majority of Star Wars films can’t claim.

Still, it is hard to get passed how unnecessary the film is. It exists to answer questions I wasn’t interested in having answered or specifically wanted to remain unanswered. Where did Han and Chewbacca meet? Where did Han get his trademark gun? What was the Kessel run like? How did the card game that got him the Milenum Falcon play out? How did Han get his last name (I didn’t even know that was a question I wasn’t interested in until it was answered). If you were curious about any of these, then Solo is intended for you. I was not curious.

But then the Star Wars franchise is filled with films that are either unnecessary or damage previous films, or both. Only the original and The Last Jedi seem to avoid this, and I wouldn’t bet money on The Last Jedi. And Solo does little damage to the world, and only a bit more of Han (reducing his mystique and screwing with his arc in the first trilogy), and as this film is so easy to ignore, those end up having little effect, so we’re back at it being unnecessary.

But I get the “Meh” response. Solo avoids the lows of previous installments, but also never hits the highs. They’ll be no compulsion to fast forward through sections once Solo is available for home release—the way I assume everyone who still watches it does with The Phantom Menace—but also less of a drive to watch it at all. The words that keep coming to mind are “fine” and “satisfactory.” So, call it “Meh +.”

The basic story of a failed heist leading to a bigger heist and people and groups not being what they originally appeared is a workable foundation for a film. It isn’t novel, but is the stuff of a good old fashioned western. The characters aren’t terribly strong or interesting, but they aren’t (with the exception of an android that suffered under the rewrites) annoying either. Vos is a nasty villain, exactly the kind of part Bettany eats up, and Lando is goofy in a good way. My only complaint with the movie they made is that it is too dark. Gritty does not equal low light. Perhaps when they run the conversions for Blu-Ray someone will turn up the brightness a tad.

Of course the real problem is that this isn’t the movie they should have made. If Disney had to make a Han Solo movie, it should have been a comedy, and apparently that was the plan when Phil Lord and Chris Miller were directing. Han and space pirates lend themselves to comedy and you could have had a memorable film that found its own place in the Star Wars franchise. But executives got scared, and brought in workman director Ron Howard to make a safer film. It doesn’t look like much is left of the Lord/Miller take, except a few jokes (too few) here and there that are the best part of the movie. The failure of Solo is in imagination. Solo is a good movie and better than most action films, but it isn’t special. It takes no risks. It sits comfortably within the Star Wars canon, bringing in nothing new. Star Wars (A New Hope to you kids) was fresh and exciting. Solo is pleasant and predictable. It was tailor-made for the fanboys who were upset that The Last Jedi wasn’t exactly what they imagined when they were six. You should never give the fans what they want, and more often than not, they will decide they didn’t really want it after all.