On Episode 328 of The Harold & Maudecast, hosts Sarah Mason and Jake review the movies SOLO and CARGO and checking in on Westeros, predictions for who will survive Game of Thrones.
Han Solo is finally getting his own origin story! Question is, did he really need one? SOLO, A STAR WARS STORY, was released on May 24th to lukewarm box office results, if you consider $115m lukewarm. Well Disney does. It appears SOLO may be the first victim of STAR WARS fatigue, as Disney continues to pump out spin-off films whether we want them or not.
We meet young Han (Alden Ehrenreich), the would-be pilot as he's escaping with his girlfriend Qi'ra (Emilia Clarke) from their home planet, under siege by the Empire. Spoiler alert! One of them gets left behind, but we'll see her again in the future after Han completes his training, does some soldiering for the Empire, meets Chewie and joins a misfit group of space outlaws led by Beckett (Woody Harrelson). After their big score heist goes terribly wrong, they face certain death at the hands of big boss Drydon Vos (Paul Bettany) unless the team can find a ship that can make the Kessel run in 12 parsecs....luckily part time dandy, full time card shark, Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover), has one.
SOLO is full of edge-of-your-seat action sequences including a intergalactic space train heist that invokes the spirit of Indiana Jones. Although Ehrenreich's name is a mouthful to say and he looks nothing like Harrison Ford, he's the right guy for the job. He pulls it off thanks to a wonderful supporting cast and a strategic script penned by the great Lawrence Kasdan (THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, SILVERADO) and his son Jonathan Kasdan (IN THE LAND OF WOMEN), the younger Kasdan clearly supplied the many satisfying albeit obscure easter eggs like a reference to the 1997 video game, “Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi. Director Ron Howard stepped in after Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (THE LEGO MOVIE) were fired for presumably being too silly? Regardless, it was the right choice as Howard's steady vision steered this film into maturity. Oh there's fun, and silliness, lots of crazy Lucas inspired creatures. But what makes this film enjoyable is the feeling that it's being produced by real filmmaking pros. You may not walk away thrilled as you were after THE FORCE AWAKENS, but don't forget that came after a long dry spell and the disasters that were Episodes 1, 2 and 3. Seek to be entertained in the spirit of Indiana Jones and get over Harrison Ford's absence and you'll dig this film as much as we did. Justice!
Review for CARGO, the Netflix original re-invention of the zombie genre starring Martin Friedman (Sherlock, THE HOBBIT) starts at 29:17.
In the outback of Australia, Andy (Friedman) and wife Kay (Susie Porter), with baby in tow, are struggling to stay alive in the new zombie stricken world. When tragedy strikes, it's up to Andy to find a family to take care of their baby girl before it's too late.
In some ways CARGO is your typical zombie story. It's got all the trappings of the genre, biting, walking dead, apocalyptic world, dangerous people who may kill you before the zombies do. Yet, it's far from the maddening crowd of Walking Dead and George Romero films. We don't know why or how the outbreak occurred but if you're lucky enough to have survived this far you're probably familiar with the government issued kit equipped with countdown bracelet and suicide tools. The film rests largely on the performance of Friedman, who delivers. Equally delightful is his young aboriginal companion, Thoomi (Simone Landers), who he must help in order to find refuge for his baby. The countdown/doomsday clock formula of the story combined with the baby, makes the stakes impossibly high for even a zombie movie. It is that urgency and the desperation of Andy that keep you engaged and nervous throughout. It's a tough film to watch -- not entirely tragic, yet sad and draining. Writer/Director team Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling (JUNGLE), stretch and breath life into this genre which seemed to be on it's way out. Justice!
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