Reel Reviews: ‘Solo’ and ‘Adrift’

By on June 6, 2018

Two movies, one theme: solitude

Welcome back, director Ron Howard! I can’t think of a better pair of hands to put in charge of the origin story of one of Star Wars’ most well-loved characters, Han Solo.

We meet our young hero, this time played by Alden Ehrenreich (“Beautiful Creatures”), as he scrambles to escape an enslaved planet and free his true love (Emilia Clarke, “Game of Thrones”) from the grips of tyranny. He succeeds only to be siphoned into the Galactic Empire and escapes the death of a foot soldier by teaming up with a band of mercenaries/smugglers comprised of Beckett (Woody Harrelson), Val (Thandie Newton, “Westworld”), and a four-armed Ardennian named Rio Durant (voiced by Jon Favreau).

Solo also meets up with his Wookie counterpart, Chewbacca, and soon to become long-time frenemy Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover).

“Venom” better hurry up and get into theaters because my man crush on Tom Hardy is fading due to Glover’s rise to superstardom. He’s an awesome young Lando! I first spotted Glover in the TV Series “Community,” which he left to pursue a career as a rapper. I thought this was a huge mistake and waste of his talent. The rise of Childish Gambino proved me wrong, as the actor’s rapping alter ego has blown up the charts and sparked social debate. Anyway, I digress …

I think I understand why so many people are hating on this movie. They have a Jedi addiction. The Star Wars universe is more than just lightsabers, Yoda, and verse 7:477; and “Solo” is the raw personification of the struggle building between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. To those means, yes, “Solo” is less of a Star Wars story than any of the other movies, but at its core it is the beginning. The people will rise up and Han Solo will be there (time and time again)…for whatever means he deems necessary.

Also in theaters: ‘Adrift’

Up against the juggernaut franchises of Star Wars and Marvel, “Adrift” had little chance of storming the box office this weekend. But, this true story of survival from Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur (“Everest,” “The Oath”) came in at a respectable third place at the box office. The movie, though, is a considerable step back for the director known for captivating an audience with picturesque surroundings and impending danger.

“Adrift” tells the story of Tami Oldham (Shailene Woodley, “Divergent” and “The Fault in Our Stars”) who miraculously survived 41 days at sea in a damaged, powerless sailing yacht, which she captained with her fiancé, Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin, a.k.a. Finnick Odair in the Hunger Games franchise). The boat, Hazana, came up against a massive storm and was practically destroyed; Oldham fought for her life to survive, with the help of Sharp’s voice.

Although pocked with screenwriting tricks and obvious plot moving devices, the main problem with “Adrift” isn’t the story. It is the acting. From the outset, Woodley plays a character I could really care less about. The love affair between Oldham and Sharp metastasizes through weak flashbacks and a collection of Polaroid prints. Claflin does his best but is relegated mostly to eye candy.

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