Paul Bettany

REVIEW: Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)

The story of a young Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) who joins a group of smugglers and thieves led by Beckett (Woody Harrelson) to take on an almost impossible heist for crime lord Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany).

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a prequel to the original Star Wars films, showing us how Han Solo became the Han Solo we know and love. Is this film needed? No. Is it a good film? I’s alright and its downfall is that it has the same problems that so many prequel films have no matter the genre. You know the characters who you’ve seen in films that are set later on survive this adventure and you know any characters you’re introduced to in this film who you haven’t seen before will either die, turn evil, ride off into the sunset or just generally not have a big role in this film. Sometimes it’s a combination of more than one of these potential outcomes. The new characters are mostly decent but aren’t particularly fleshed out or, in the case of Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), are suddenly given multiple different facets towards the end of the film that it feels a bit like whiplash.

Alden Ehrenreich does a great job as a younger version of Harrison Ford’s jaded Han Solo. This Han Solo is a guy who doesn’t really know where he fits in, he tries being good, he tries being bad and a lot of the time he’s just very lucky. Donald Glover is also very charismatic as a young Lando Calrissian and seeing how Han and Lando meet is great and the two of them bounce well of each other. Another great first meeting is Han and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) seeing the friendship grow between these two was wonderful and any of their interactions or the scenes that featured the two of them were the best. Chewbacca probably has the most well-developed and interesting character arc in this film to be honest.

The action and fight scenes are good with the heist on a train being a standout moment. However, the pacing of Solo: A Star Wars Story leaves much to be desired. The first thirty minutes or so is a bit of a slog, but it does pick up once Han meets Beckett and his crew. The first thirty minutes or so were also incredibly dark. I honestly found myself squinting at the screen a few times as it was difficult to make out characters reactions to events that were happening around them. While scenes that take place at night or on grimy planets will naturally be darker, it seemed like everything was so poorly lit that when something interesting did happen, it was hard to actually see it.

Solo: A Star Wars Story is a perfectly fine film. It’s mostly fun and the characters you’ve already met are great. There’s a few surprises in Solo: A Star Wars Story and a lot of references to the franchise as a whole (some of which are eyeroll-inducing and really aren’t needed). Overall, it’s a film that doesn’t add much to the Star Wars mythos but it’s a mostly fun adventure featuring some much-loved characters. 3/5.

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REVIEW: Iron Man 3 (2013)

Suffering from a series of panic attacks after the events of The Avengers, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) also must deal with the threat of the terrorist known as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

Shane Black takes over as director in Iron Man 3, and as cowriter as well, his influence is all over this film and that’s not a bad thing. It is funny while still pushing its characters to the edge. It introduces some interesting new characters such as Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) who you’re never really sure if you can trust, and Harley (Ty Simpkins) a boy who helps Tony out in his time of need and there’s some great dialogue between the two of them and JARVIS (Paul Bettany).

One of the great things about Iron Man 3, is that it allows its hero to suffer. Tony is not the same man after what he experienced in New York, he has nightmares and can’t stop making more and more of his suits of armour. He’s frightened of losing those he cares about, namely his girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his friends Rhodey (Don Cheadle) and Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau). Most of the time we spend with Tony during this film, he’s out of the suit and has to rely on his own wits and mechanical ability to save himself, never mind the rest of the world. The scenes of Tony making gadgets to take on the bad guys really reminds the audience just how smart and capable this guy is – after all, he’s the guy who built a miniaturised arc reactor in a cave with a box of scraps.

While Iron Man 3 is more of a serious film compared to Tony Stark’s previous outings, it’s not dark and gritty, instead it’s fun and witty while still showing a different side to these characters. The film speeds along with action sequences that use the Iron Man suits like we’ve not seen before and has some surprises too.

Ben Kingsley is brilliant in this as the villain of the piece. It’s not faithful to the comic books, and some people probably don’t like that, but personally I think this version of the Mandarin is genius. It turns the character on its head and puts a different face to terrorism to that we usually see in big Hollywood films.

Iron Man 3 is an entertaining adventure with some impressive action sequences and a whole lot of heart. If you weren’t a Tony Stark fan before this film, then I’m sure you will be by the time this film is finished. 4/5.

REVIEW: Journey’s End (2017)

Set in the trenches in Aisne in March 1918, the story focusses on C Company and it’s officers, led by the young Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin), as they wait for the German offensive they’ve been warned is imminent.

Journey’s End is a claustrophobic and tense film. The way it’s shot makes you feel like you’re in the trenches beside these young men. This is achieved by a lot of close ups and the fact you as the viewer only see as much as the characters do. Like them, you get no warning when there’s sniper fire or a barrage of bombs, you have the same information as the characters do and this increasingly racks up the tension.

The majority of the film is set in the trenches and in the officer’s dug out. The dynamics between the five officers, Stanhope, Osborne (Paul Bettany), Trotter (Stephen Graham), Hibbert (Tom Sturridge) and Raleigh (Asa Butterfield), switch between camaraderie to violence and anger as the pressures of their situations rest heavily on their shoulders. All actors give brilliant performances but Claflin was the standout. I’ve never thought he was a bad actor, but he never made much of an impact on me before, in Journey’s End he’s magnificent. The fear, anger and frustration was clear to see as he struggled to look out for his men when it seems like there’s no hope at all. He turns to drink to get him through but that in no way stops him being a good Captain, even as it’s clear to see his mental state is deteriorating.

While Journey’s End is a bleak film, there’s still moments of humour, most of them coming from the officer’s interactions with the cook Mason (Toby Jones). It’s often gallows humour but they are trying to make the most of their terrible situation. These moments of humour help flesh out all the characters as you get to see their personalities when they’re not just focused on what’s a few hundred metres across no man’s land.

Journey’s End is a powerful and gripping film. Everything comes together, the costume and set design, the simple yet haunting music, and the great performances, to make this a great war film. 4/5.

REVIEW: Margin Call (2011)

_1315510535Analyst Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto) discovers discrepancies in his company’s financial projections and realises that things are going to turn very bad, very quickly. Peter, with the help of his friend and colleague Seth Bregman (Penn Badgley) informs Will Emerson (Paul Bettany), an experienced market trader, and together they slowly move up the hierarchy of the bank during one night, trying to explain to the bosses what’s going to happen and if there’s actually any way to stop it.

For such a stuffy and possibly boring subject, Margin Call is gripping and that is down to a great script and brilliant acting. Jeremy Irons is the CEO who just wants his company to survive no matter the consequences while Kevin Spacey is the head trader who wants to be honest but is stuck in the business. Considering Margin Call is less than two hours long and the fact it’s set across one night, you get to grips with the characters pretty well by the end of the film.

Margin Call also manages to offer some humanity to those who caused or were a part of the financial crisis of 2008. In the media they are just “the Banks” and you forget that honest people who were just doing their jobs were a part of the businesses that made a mess for everyone. It really is a credit to the script and the cast that each actor is allowed their moment to shine.

Considering Margin Call is about the financial crisis, a topic that could be dense and boring, Margin Call is gripping, interesting and has some great performances. 5/5.

REVIEW: Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

dwV6BZ2When Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) want to protect the world with a peacekeeping program, things go awry when the program Ultron (James Spader), decides that the only way to protect the world is to destroy it and the Avengers must come together to stop it.

Age of Ultron is truly a global film (something that doesn’t always works but is admirable) as the action goes from America to Eastern Europe to Africa and Asia. It definitely makes Ultron feel more of a threat and he along with Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro Maximoff (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are a real adversary for the Avengers.

The action sequences are amazing and it’s always great to see the Avengers team, acting and fighting as a team. The moments where they help each other out whether it’s Thor (Chris Hemsworth) hitting Captain America’s (Chris Evans) shield with Mjolnir or Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) being the one to take the team to safety when they really need it – it’s a delight to watch.

Each character gets their moment to shine (and there’s a lot of characters) and Hawkeye especially gets to be the calm centre that helps keep everything together – a welcome change to the character being side-lined in the previous film. Also many characters get more of a backstory or at least a bigger look at their personalities and fears which is mostly thanks to Wanda Maximoff.

Both Wanda and Pietro (or Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver as they’re otherwise known) are great to watch. They are truly believable as twins who have only had each other to reply on and who have been hurt badly. Another new addition to the franchise is Vision (Paul Bettany) whose introduction is sort of beautiful and Vision then went on to steal every scene he was in.

Probably one of Age of Ultron’s biggest failings that it really feels like a stepping stone to future films, especially Infinity War. It’s still fun and exciting but there’s an air of expectation that the film doesn’t manage to fulfil. That being said, there’s still the humour and quite a few emotional hits – some are definitely surprising – so it isn’t all bad. One element I wasn’t over keen on was the romance hinted at between Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johannson), some may like it but it felt a bit forced and out of place to me.

Once again, every character has their time to shine, there’s some welcome additions to the cast and the action sequences are fantastic. The pacing is sometimes a little off but overall Avengers: Age of Ultron is a lot of fun. 4/5.


l will be posting a full-on spoiler review/word vomit with all my thoughts as a fangirl of many of these characters, and the MCU itself, later this week.