Solo – A Star Wars Story

solo

Solo, a beverage and a man. A man who was given his iconic name not through simply being Han Solo, but because an Imperial bureaucrat lacked imagination. Solo, the delicious Norwegian soda, was famously the drink that only did one thing: satisfy your thirst. Solo, a Star Wars story, does not satisfy. Solo, the heist/adventure movie, manages a soft “meh.” This angered me more than I expected as I left the cinema. I’m usually not one to care that much. What struck me constantly during the film was how little I cared for anything. Let’s try to find out why, shall we?

Han Solo is the quintessential rogue character. What satisfies me about his character will not be the same thing that does it for you. My main concern is what can his origin story even be when the ending must birth the character we all hold so dear? The task seems impossible.

This review contains all the spoilers

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Ready Player One

posterReading the novel by Ernest Cline felt a bit like watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory – not necessarily in a bad way, but more in the way that I wasn’t exactly sure who the book is written for. The book is, at first glance, for young and old geeks who like geeky things and aren’t opposed to a bit of pulp in their fiction. That’s definitely me! But at the end of the book, I didn’t really feel anything, and it had not felt like an adventure. Maybe I’m just not of a “good enough” nerd, you might say. If you do feel inclined to say that, maybe the book’s for you.

The film, on the other hand, does away with a lot of the American Psycho-esque listing of esoteric knowledge and keeps the story grounded much more in reality, both in the reality of the characters and the reality of, well, actual reality.

Some spoilers below.

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Thor: Ragnarok

thorragnarokWhen choosing which movie to see last weekend there wasn’t really a debate. Above the cinema, and on every other bus in town, was the drab and unsettling poster for Justice League, DC’s Avengers, their first full line-up movie. I think it’s safe to say I’ve been more lenient to the DC movies than most of the reviewers I follow, but I still had absolutely no desire to see another DC outing.

The alternative was Thor: Ragnarok, the follow up to Thor: The Dark World, which is arguably near the bottom of Marvel’s film hierarchy, and God knows which number it holds in Marvels cinematic universe timeline. I should have Marvel fatigue, but I happily paid to visit this franchise yet again, knowing exactly what I was going to get, instead of giving DC the benefit of the doubt.

Setting aside the why and the how of my Marvel-tolerance, can Thor: Ragnarok be a better sequel than the first?

The review below contains mild spoilers

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Blade Runner 2049

bladerunnerCan the Uncanny Valley ever be overcome? The line between a computer simulation or robot, and a real person seems like a great chasm today, but once we get closer and closer, will the line blur, or will we become hyper-sensitive to the minute differences? Will we ever need to have a debate over a “grown” human’s rights? Are they the same as a robot? A fleshy version of Commander Data? Can an automaton have a soul if it passes an emotional Turing Test? Is it different if it bleeds? Do tests even really mean anything when we’re looking for a soul? We could sit here and have ourselves a podcast’s worth of questions, but let’s talk about the movie instead. Is it a good movie?

Blade Runner officer “K” (Ryan Gosling) goes out to a protein farm outside Los Angeles and “retires” one of the old replicant models. The replicant was hiding a secret so powerful it might “end the world” as officer K’s superior, Lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright) explains it. It is up to K to unravel the mystery.

This review contains SPOILERS

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword review

arthurThere are some stories that we will never stop telling. The recent round of these stories, be it fairytales, legends or classic books, seem to lean towards the “darker and grittier” aesthetic. A lot of people complain that this is unnecessary; that it leaves the characters one dimensional, and makes the ridiculous aspects of fantasy worlds all the more obvious and harder to swallow. But there are good things to say about this “genre” of remake. For one, it occacionally looks totally badass. It also, when done right, allows otherwise “silly” aspects of stories to be reworked, which can be a good stepping stone to more nuanced versions of those stories.

The gritty remake of King Arthur was King Arthur (2004) with Clive Owen as the legendary king. It did not add much to the Arthurian legend, and only stands out in my mind due to the uproar over Keira Knightly’s photoshopped bosom on the poster. It’s a bit of an odd relic today, full of actors who would become better known later, for better or worse.

Guy Ritchie’s take on the well-known story is full of grittiness – silent screams, washed out colours, deep drumming music. In the hands of any other director it might have come out as “Batman in the 12th century”, but Ritchie has his own aesthetic, one that clashes head first into the dark fantasy version of Camelot. If you don’t like Guy Ritchie, you won’t like this film. It has all his hallmarks: parallell story, hard to follow narrators, hand held running, slow-motion, and cheeky banter. But does it lean too much in either direction? Would the story have been better served if it layed on more dark grit, or more lock stock?

Spoilers ahead.

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Kongens Nei – The King’s No

kongensneiIt might be strange for Americans, who fought a war to get rid of a king, to learn that Norwegians voted one in after gaining their independence peacefully. Since 1905, when Norway left the union with Sweden, our kings have been a source of pride, patriotism and fondness. This is useful in that we can all hate on our politicians as much as we like. During the Second World War King Haakon VII was used by many as a symbol of resistance against the Nazi occupation.

The King’s No is perhaps the story that cemented this sentiment in the Norwegian people. It adds as much action and epic patriotism as it can, without sacrificing too much history on the alter of Hollywood. The result is something between a History Channel reenactment (with a budget) and a biographical look into a foreign prince who became a democratically elected king.

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