Thursday, May 31, 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story and Short Takes on Deadpool 2

                                    Anti-Hero Hall of Famers

                                                      Reviews by Ken Burke
                       Solo: A Star Wars Story (Ron Howard)                    

“Executive Summary” (no spoilers): This is another prequel to the middle trilogy of the Star Wars stories, focused on the younger Han Solo, how he managed to hustle his way with theft and bargaining off his miserable home planet (intending to escape with his likewise-criminal lover but she’s captured in the process) only to later be dismissed from the Imperial Flight Academy for his non-conformist attitudes, leading to the misery of infantry warfare in service to the Empire until he comes upon a criminal group headed by Tobias Beckett who gets Han thrown into a prison where he’s supposed to be killed by the vicious Wookie, Chewbacca.  Instead, they form a partnership, escape, join Beckett’s crew in an attempt to steal a cargo of valuable hyperspace fuel for the powerful Crimson Dawn syndicate.  However, that plan goes awry (in some marvelously choreographed action), leading our desperate crew to attempt another theft of the precious coaxium fuel, this time from the heavily-guarded mines on Kessel with Han, Chewbacca, Beckett, Lando Calrissian (owner of the speedy spaceship, the Millennium Falcon, recruited for this dangerous task, along with Lando’s caustic droid, L3-37, who seems to be a special companion to him [if you get my drift]), and Han’s re-emerged love, Qi’ra, who’s now in league with the Crimson Dawn thugs off on this dangerous adventure.  What occurs after that would too easily get us into spoiler-territory (except you know Han, Chewie, Lando, and the … Falcon survive into additional stories in this canon, along with Han’s bragging about his conquest of the Kessel Run) so I’ll leave you to seeing it for yourself or plowing ahead if you like into the details below of this constantly-evolving, quite-surprising-at-times storyline.  Critical and box-office response to Solo … so far hasn’t been as fully up to expectations as you’d imagine, but this is still an action-packed (although dimly-lit much of the time) movie with a lot of satisfying connections and references to the rest of the Star Wars canon for the many fans of this franchise who should be pleased with this addition. 

Here’s the trailer:  (Use the full screen button in the image’s lower right to enlarge it; activate that same button on the full screen’s lower right or your “esc” keyboard key to return to normal size.)

If you can abide plot spoilers read on, but as this blog’s intended for those who’ve seen the film—or want to save some bucks—to help any of you who want to learn more details yet avoid important plot-reveals I’ll identify any give-away sentences/sentence-clusters like this: 
⇒The first and last words will be noted with arrows and red.⇐ OK, now continue on if you prefer.

What Happens: Occurring about a dozen years prior to the events of Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope (George Lucas, 1977), this current backstory on the earlier years of Han Solo (Alden Ehrenreich) begins on his home planet, Corellia, an outpost of criminal syndicates actively in operation despite the imposition of Imperial rule (as seen in events set just a few years prior in … Episode III—Revenge of the Sith [Lucas, 2005]).  Han and his lover, Qi’ra (Emilia Clarke), are among the many family-less-outcasts exchanging thievery for sustenance, yet hoping desperately to find a means of escape to other realms of the galaxy, which for Han includes pilot training at the Imperial Flight Academy.  Opportunity arises when they steal some of the precious fuel, coaxium, used to power spaceships’ hyperdrives, then use it as a bribe to gain access to an off-world-transport but with Han the only escapee as the authorities grab Qi’ra.  Despite his intention to someday get his own ship in order to return for her, we find Han 3 years later in the Imperial Infantry in battle on some miserable planet after having been kicked out of the Academy for insubordination.  During a battle he comes to realize that a supposed-officer, Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), is actually part of a criminal gang which Han’s willing to join to get out of his current predicament but his threat to expose Beckett in order to force his hand backfires when Beckett tells the troops Han’s a deserter (in Empire procedures it doesn’t take much more than accusations—without evidence—to bring about barely-questioned-top-down-results [sound familiar to a more current government trying to emulate this one from “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away”?]) so Han’s soon in a cell with his leg chained to another prisoner, the huge Wookie, Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo).  After Chewie’s initial attempts to kill Han, they instead form an alliance (Han speaks Wookie a bit, even as Chewie understands English) leading to their escape, then the grudging-reconnection with Beckett.

 Han’s new boss takes them to the tall, triangular yacht of Dryden Vos (Paul Bettany), a higher-up in the Crimson Dawn syndicate—Han’s shocked to find Qi’ra there, but in debt to Vos—where they agree to an intricately-planned-heist of a shipment of coaxium from a freight train, a plan they almost pull off until the arrival of Cloud Rider pirates led by Enfys Nest (Erin Kellyman).  In the ensuing struggle the pirates are driven off but a couple of Beckett’s crew are killed (including his wife, Val [Thandie Newton]), then Han has to cut loose the coaxium freight car to fall to its destruction in order to save Beckett and Chewie.  To atone for this botched heist Han convinces Vos to support another coaxium theft, this one from the mines of Kessel (with failure this time bringing death for all) so he, Chewie, Beckett—accompanied by Qi’ra (at Vos’ demand, to oversee the fuel will be brought to him)—first try to get Lando Calrissian’s (Donald Glover) Millennium Falcon ship due to its speed and navigational superiority (from Lando’s L3-37 droid [voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge], seemingly also Lando’s lover although we don’t get any further details on that [PG-13, you know]).  After Han loses a game of sabacc to Lando (who cheats) the crafty shipowner offers them use of the vehicle (with him as pilot) in return for a cut of the profits.  Using a ploy of Han and Chewie as prisoners being delivered to this slave-labor-mine, our protagonists carry out a scheme to grab a dozen canisters of coaxium in a chaotic scene where L3-37 sparks a droid and slave revolt, leading to “her” being badly damaged in the firefight as our thieves barely escape, then have to face down an Imperial Star Destroyer and its TIE fighters which Han provides a daring escape from via the scary Kessel Run, using L3’s circuits implanted into the … Falcon's computer.

 Yet, they have little time to celebrate once they reach their next destination, the planet where the coaxium is processed, because disgusted-by-recent-events-Lando flies off in the … Falcon before the pirates arrive again (having implanted a homing beacon earlier on the … Falcon in order to track it, a trick which will be used again in … A New Hope along with other sly references to events from that movie and others connected to it), revealing they’re all survivors of various Crimson Dawn or Empire attacks, intending to sell this valuable fuel in order to help finance the growing Rebellion.  Han’s sympathetic to their cause, intends to trick Vos with fake-fuel-replicas but Vos is tipped off by Beckett (who warned Han earlier never to trust anyone) who leaves with the actual cargo (and Chewie as a hostage), leaving us with the assumption (because she’s ordered by Vos) that Qi’ra will kill Han, but she kills Vos instead, sends Han to overtake Beckett, but then she reaffirms her true allegiance by contacting the leader of Crimson Dawn, the vicious (formerly Darth) Maul (no, he didn’t die [more on that later] in … Episode I—The Phantom Menace [Lucas, 1999; a mention rather than a review in our February 11, 2012 postingas always with our early work, please be tolerant as you plow through my absurdly-overly-wordy-layout, desperately in need of more photos]).  Han catches and kills Beckett, gives most of the fuel to the rebels, keeps just enough to buy his way into another sabacc game with Lando, cheats the cheater to take possession of the … Falcon, then he and Chewie blast off for Tatooine where they hear a major gangster’s now looking for smugglers.⇐
So What? Certainly one of the aspects of this current Star Wars-timeline-connected-movie that makes it more appealing than Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Gareth Edwards, 2016; review in our January 4, 2017 posting) is the stronger association with elements of the canonical movies of this series (beginning at the narrative-chronological-point of … The Phantom Menace, going through … Episode VIII—The Last Jedi [Rian Johnson, 2017; review in our December 22, 2017 posting]) where Rogue … showed us how members of the Rebel Alliance managed to send the blueprints for the Death Star to Princess/Senator Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) which kicked off the action of … A New Hope  but then the principal characters died so we knew we’d see no more of them whereas in Solo … we get a cluster of familiar faces from the official trilogies—Han, Chewie, Lando—as well as depictions of how Han met Chewie, how he made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, how he won the Millennium Falcon from Lando—so this stand-alone-story is a lot more interwoven with what we know from the official trilogies (with the follow-up to … The Last Jedi still to come in late 2019), making it more resonant with what we already know  ⇒(including both Beckett and Han are separately going to Tatooine to work with Jabba the Hutt, as well as the big-screen-return of Darth Maul [Ray Park], whom we had good reason to believe was dead after being light-saber-sliced-in-half by Obi-Wan Kenobi [Ewan McGregor] in … Phantom Menace.Given Maul’s surprise appearance we [at least those of us not saturated in Star Wars minutia**] might need to understand how he’s even alive, although his unexpected-connection to Qi’ra will probably be explored in a Solo … sequel as will the fate of shifting-allegiance-Beckett.)⇐   As to when the events of Solo … occur within the official Star Wars timeline, here’s an explanation that implies it happens maybe 14 years before the events of … A New Hope, but if Han were 29 then (by some previous accounting) he’d only be about 15 here which is clearly younger than depicted by Ehrenreich (age 28) so let’s just say Han’s about 20 in Solo ... which would make him a bit older than reported in these sources as well as when we'll meet him again as Harrison Ford at that Mos Eisley Cantina (Ford was 35***).

*For Star Wars fans such as myself who, nevertheless, don’t attempt to keep current on all the manifestations of these characters in comics, graphic novels, more traditional novels, animated TV series, etc., it’s very confusing why Maul’s even in this story given that seeming-termination, but, as you can read here, in tales not part of the 8 primary stories so far on the big screen he survived into the timeline that Solo … occupies. (I guess if you’re strong enough with the Force simply losing your lower torso’s not enough to kill you, which might be related in an oblique manner to the absurd scenes of Deadpool growing his nether-regions/legs back as noted in the review farther below [although his situation definitely has nothing to do with the Force, even if his character someday might stumble into the Lucas galaxy within Disney’s empire if it absorbs Fox's films later this year.)

**Even if you attempt to address what’s followed from the original movies begun under Lucas’ supervision since 1977 you’ll find you can’t reconcile all of it because the presentations in various formats don’t coalesce; for example, I read a good number of the sanctioned novels about the adventures of Luke, Leia, Han, etc. after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI—The Return of the Jedi (Richard Marquand, 1983)—with the deaths of the Emperor and Darth Vader, the fall of the Empire—but although the various struggles the champions of the once-again-Republic (Leia even becomes the elected leader of the galaxy for a time) have in containing remnants of the previous Empire antagonists could have occurred prior to the ongoing-on-screen-tragedies shown in …Episode VII—The Force Awakens (J.J. Abrams, 2015; review in our December 31, 2015 posting) when Luke temporarily withdraws from the scene, there’s no way to reconcile those novels detailing the 3 children of Leia and Han, none of whom are their son, the misguided-Sith-reviver Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), whose fate is still set to be resolved when the 3rd official trilogy concludes in 2019.

***No matter how appealing Ehrenreich is for some of us in this role, we'll find he's not so convincing for others.  Now, if you’d like a detailed Star Wars chronology here's an abbreviated one or you can totally lose yourself in this one (also found—more or less—in another format here).

Bottom Line Final Comments: While I enjoyed the overall experience of Solo …, I must admit much of that pleasure comes from the reappearance of a good many original Star Wars characters operating in manners we’ve already come to know in that ancient, distant galaxy (which I don’t think we’ve ever known how “long ago” these stories took place so I hope the whole thing hasn’t exploded into cosmic dust by now), even though we have no encounters with Jedi knights, light sabers, a pair of very familiar droids, anyone from the Skywalker family, or previously-explored-planets, any of which might have been welcome but would have pushed this storyline even further into the direct evolution of the official tales, which this one doesn’t need any further help from in standing alone as a compelling addition to the Lucas-originated-narrative-cluster which has made such a significant impact at the worldwide box-office.*  However, Solo …’s now accused of underperforming** even though it raked in about $103 million in domestic (U.S.-Canada) receipts during its Memorial Day weekend debut (along with another $65 million in international sales), which just shows how high the expectations are for this franchise.  (Some estimates put the production budget at $250-300 million, including reshoots after Howard took over as director from Phil Lord and Christopher Miller in response to the always-invoked “creative differences” problem, so that could be another factor in what’s being decried by some as a “disappointing” audience response so far [although attendees' CinemaScore is a solid A-, with mainly the accountants disappointed], surely not helped by continuing interest in Deadpool 2 [David Leitch; review below] adding another $54 million to its worldwide $497.6 million accumulation after 2 weeks, along with Avengers: Infinity War [Anthony and Joe Russo; review in our May 3, 2018 posting] taking in about $22.5 million at #3 on the past-weekend-list resulting in a worldwide total of around $1.9 billion during its 5-week-run.)

*According to this site, as of January 2018 the Lucas-spawned-Star Wars-franchise is the #2 all-time-most-financially-flush for worldwide movie income (behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so Disney’s doing “marvel”ously well overall no matter how much Solo … makes) while another site notes the Star Wars series as #3 domestically behind the MCU and Pixar presentations (any way you look at it, then, Disney’s reaped enormous returns on their purchases of all these entities)

**Here’s a quick tally of some reasons this highly-anticipated-prequel'd falloff could be happening.

 Even if the critical—and international box-office—response has been more tepid so far toward Solo … than expected (given its pedigree or compared to the huge success of … The Force Awakens, the critics at Rotten Tomatoes offered onl70% positive reviews, those at Metacritic were close with a 62% average score) I still think it’s an entertaining movie offering a very satisfying return to the Star Wars stories (even for viewers not saturated with the additional narrative paths offered in print and various forms of video, including games) in its use of so many familiar items from what we’ve known already, as recounted in rapid-fire-fashion in the 2nd entry for this movie in the Related Links section far below.  In addition to the ones noted there (and in others of my references above) I also noticed the parallel death of a master by an apprentice when Qi’ra kills Vos instead of Han, as done previously (on screen, although years later in timeline chronology) by Kylo Ren in … The Last Jedi, with the demise of Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) done in hopes Rey (Daisy Ridley) would join Ren in their use of the Force to command the galaxy (also a bit reminiscent of soon-to-be-Emperor/Supreme Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious [Ian McDiarmid]) encouraging young Anakin Skywalker [Hayden Christensen] to kill previous Sith Lord/Count Dooku [Christopher Lee] in … Revenge of the Sith to allow Anakin’s move into the Dark Side apprentice role, just as Dooku replaced Darth Maul after the latter’s supposed death in … The Phantom Menace).  There’s even a bit of an overlap with The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974) when Han is given the surname “Solo” as he checks in to fly from Corellia because he “doesn’t have any people” (despite later noting his father was a builder who worked on the Millennium Falcon-class of spaceships) just as young Vito Andolini was renamed “Corleone” simply because the Ellis Island immigration clerk made a sloppy-admittance-decision based on the boy’s birthplace (maybe I’m thinking of that just because this is also the annual Godfather-trilogy-and-spaghetti-week for me and my wonderful wife, Nina, where I finallybrieflyrelieve her of cooking duties as we indulge in our embrace of a very different sort of gangster than what we’ve found in Han Solo).

 Admittedly, all of this immersion in Star Wars nostalgia (including active battle scenes, shooting down of various pursuing enemies, a risky escape with the … Falcon flying sideways before a fast leap into hyperspace, another cantina scene, etc.) keeps Solo … from standing on its own as a terrifically-realized-result of its individual merits (as were … Episodes IV and V [… The Empire Strikes Back; Irvin Kershner, 1980]), both of which offer memorable aspects of Han’s slightly-older exploits, but except for the unnecessarily-dark-tonality of many of the scenes in about the first 2/3 of … Solo (an odd departure in lighting from most of its predecessors, especially the 2 just noted) I found quite a bit to like about it, while realizing it can’t break much new ground given what we already know of what happens with these main characters as they approach the events of … A New Hope and beyond.  However, I’ll also admit I wasn’t all that enchanted with … A New Hope the first time I saw it, naively expecting some sort of a Flash Gordon-type-story, but a 2nd viewing (with many since then) completely erased that opinion so maybe someday even the current Solo … naysayers will find more to like about it, especially if we get a prequel-sequel or 2 giving us more about Han’s early encounters with Jabba the Hutt plus the fates of Qi’ra and Beckett as we assume they’re gone by the time Han meets Luke and Obi-Wan.*  While we’re awaiting the content of more Star Wars stories, though, I’ll leave this topic with my usual finishing device of a Musical Metaphor, this one being “The Joker” from the Steve Miller Band (on their 1973 album of the same name) at, a live performance in Chicago (seemingly in 2007, with the song ending at about 4:45 of this 6:00 video, allowing you to witness the enthusiastic energy of an audience hoping for an encore just as many viewers continue to anticipate the return of beloved Star Wars characters [even when we have to settle for Ehrenreich doing a reasonable approximation of Harrison Ford, Glover effectively channeling a younger Billy Dee Williams, and the ever-effective-appearance of 190-year-old Chewbacca—his age in … Solo—who always looks the same whether the actor under the fur is Suotamo or Peter Mayhew in the earlier releases]) as I see Han as easily being “the space cowboy [… or] the gangster of love […] a sinner [who’s easily ready to break any rules—including shooting first when the circumstances require it but who, at heart] sure don’t want to hurt no one [except where hanging on to the Millennium Falcon is concerned].”

*However, here’s a couple of guys exploring various aspects—positive and negative—about Solo …, a 33-min. dialogue recommended to me by Two Guys-long-time-contributor (and fellow Texan, for whatever that may be worth) Richard Parker so let’s see what you think about what they think.
(yet another overly-long attempt at the concept of) SHORT TAKES
(please note that spoilers also appear here)
                                 Deadpool 2 (David Leitch)
Even though he’s apparently indestructible Deadpool attempts suicide in remorse over the death of his lover, Vanessa, due to the work-related-violence that follows him everywhere.  Helped by X-Man buddy, Colossus, he wants to reignite his criminal-cleansing-agenda but in his attempt at helping a troubled teenage mutant his situation grows ever more complicated.
Here’s the trailer:

(Please note this isn’t a Red Band trailer but it contains some of what makes this movie R-rated so be aware of that; given 20th Century Fox seems to be following Red Band’s lead in its Deadpool 2 promos I didn’t find any PG-sanitized-versions so this one has the same blunt language inclusions as above but gives you some additional clips from the movie if that’s all you choose to watch of it.)

       Before reading any further, I’ll ask you to refer to the plot spoilers warning far above.

 Why, you might ask, would I consign this superhero movie to the briefer (but not by much, if you’re familiar with my run-on-tendencies) realm of Short Takes despite its solid box-office-numbers (as noted above, $497.6 million worldwide currently) and general critical acceptance (a hefty 83% pack of positive reviews at RT, a decent enough 66% average score at MC [not exactly something to brag about but their responses often end up at about this level overall])?  The short answer is twofold: (1) I’m much more interested in the extended-Star Wars-story (including prequels such as Solo …), (2) despite a good number of assurances Deadpool 2 is an ongoing laughfest (such as in the review by my local critical-heavy-hitter, Mick LaSalle, of the San Francisco Chronicle: In the original movie, Deadpool was obnoxious, crueler and more mentally ill than arch, but ‘Deadpool 2’ smooths out some of his rough edges. Director David Leitch introduces a lighter tone, and the story completes the effect […] This time, it’s possible to root for ‘Deadpool’ without wanting to take a bath afterward) I found the approach here to become much more tedious than hilarious, although I wouldn’t go as far as another SF Bay Area critic, Daniel Barnes, who absolutely detested it (“The only significant difference between this film and the three-hour turd soup of Avengers: Infinity War is Reynold's incessant fourth-wall-breaking, which makes it easier for him to deliver an endless stream of lazy non-jokes.“).  My opinion comes in about midway between them, acknowledging that if I had been aware of even half of the hundreds of Easter Eggs and references noted in the 2nd entry for this title in the Related Links section of this posting (not too much farther below at this point, so hang in there) I might have found a greater level of overall-enjoyment within Deadpool 2.

 However, with nothing but my viewing of the previous Deadpool (Tim Miller, 2016; another 3-star-review in our February 23, 2016 posting) and its somewhat-related-X-Men-adventures (you can find my reviews of some of those in our Summary of Two Guys Reviews, also in the Related Links section, but I’ll leave that hunting to your level of curiosity, given that I’m not all that interested in reviving my encounters with those overstuffed experiences).  I do appreciate the strategy of snarky humor in these Deadpool stories (calling out the cinematic overkill of superhero stories from DC/WB, Marvel/Disney, and the remaining Marvel holdings at 21st Century Fox [X-Men] and Sony [Spider-Man], although the entire Marvel package may some day belong to Disney if they’re successful in buying the Fox film holdings, now depending upon a counter-strategy from Comcast [with their empire also containing NBC and Universal, so this should be quite the corporate-cage-match]), but after an hour or so of this postmodern-metaness it just gets a little tiresome, especially if you’re not attuned to all of the pop-culture-references packed into this script.

 As for the script itself, we find Wade Wilson/Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds)—a mutant with amazing powers of regeneration leaving him on the verge of immortal—lamenting how his relentless pursuit of bad guys resulted in a counterattack killing his lover, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), so he attempts suicide with a massive fuel explosion which leaves him as a pile of unconnected body parts (but with his brain still functioning), seemingly put back together against his will by Colossus (voiced by Stefan Kapičić, motion-capture by him and Andre Tricoteux)a Russian organic-metal-strongman—who tries to get his foul-mouthed-buddy (this movie easily earns its R-rating on dialogue alone, although the many killings and battle scenes aren’t all that graphic—at least compared to what you’d expect from a Quentin Tarantino tale) back into action as a member of the X-Men (aided by another returning character from the previous Deadpool, Negasonic Teenage Warhead [Brianna Hildebrand] and her lesbian-linkup, Yukio [Shioli Kutsuna]), but their attempt to end the standoff at a Mutant Rehabilitation Center between the staff authorities and another teenager, Russell Collins/Firefist (Julian Dennison), ends up with both the kid and our wayward protagonist (hard to call him a hero with his cynical-enough-attitude to make even the Dark Knight look like the more-jovial-Batman of the 1960s) fitted with neutralizing collars canceling out their superpowers, then hauled off to a brutal detention center where Wilson escapes due to the sudden appearance from the future of Cable (Josh Brolin), time-traveled to our present to terminate (get the reference?) Collins because the kid is fated to kill his abusive “Reeducation” headmaster (Eddie Marsan), then become a vicious murderer who'll eventually include Cable’s wife and daughter among his victims.

 Compressing this plot a bit (in intended-Short Takes-fashion), Firefist teams up with massive-mutant Juggernaut (voice and motion-capture by Reynolds), out to kill the headmaster, with Deadpool now leading a group he’s called the X-Force—Cable, Colossus, and Domino (Zazie Beetz), a woman whose superpower is extraordinary luck—attempting to convince Collins to restrain his killer instincts.  Colossus, Negasonic, and Yukio subdue Juggernaut, but Cable fires at Firefist anyway so Deadpool (wearing a power-restricting-collar as a sign of good faith in his negotiations) takes the bullet, dies, then meets Vanessa in the afterlife, but she says it’s not yet time for him to expire so he’s sucked back into the action.  We then learn Cable used up the last bit of his time-travel-device to return to the start of this plot’s final confrontation in order to put a metal Skee-Ball token (an anniversary-memento from life with Vanessa, harking back to the earlier movie) over Deadpool’s heart that stops the bullet (so he’s alive after all), leading to Firefist standing down when he sees Wilson would have died for him; Cable says he’s happy enough his family will live peacefully in the future so he’s OK staying in our time to fight crime in Deadpool's X-Force.⇐

 Although part of the X-Men quadrant of the Marvel universe (but not yet the Marvel Cinematic Universe, currently the property of Disney), Deadpool is a even more different take on outlier-superheroes than what you’d find in the Guardians of the Galaxy stories (James Gunn, 2014 and 2017; review of the 1st one in our August 7, 2014 posting) because this latter group’s intended to be exaggeratedly-humorous as such unique beings go but Deadpool’s often an affront to what the whole concept of a superhero’s always been about given his foul language, willingness to shoot first (or slice, as the case may be, using his skill with the two swords he carries on his back, although his regenerative powers are his true salvation as shown in one scene where he deflects a Cable bullet with his blade but then is riddled with many others), use of any tactic available to defeat an enemy, all the while making snitty comments about everything around him along with innumerable pop-culture-remarks.  There’s also the problem situation (as the scriptwriters could probably have cared less) about continuity with the X-Men movies (given Deadpool’s ongoing-interconnection with them) as the mutant characters he’s coexisting with are the younger versions of the older ones first established in the earlier-released-Patrick Stewart/Ian McKellen-episodes, so the X-Men actors available for this movie’s brief scene (hiding from Deadpool) are obviously the ones available even though the timelines (as best I marginally attempt to understand them) don’t match.  Another plot hole is Deadpool surviving his entire body being dismembered then somehow put back together in the early scene yet when Juggernaut rips him apart he has to regrow his lower half (inconsistent but allows for some snarky comments from other characters when he’s plodding around on baby legs).

 In the post-credits-scene (you know you have to wait for them), though, Deadpool cleans up some previous timeline problems with the use of Cable’s now-repaired-time-travel-device to prevent Vanessa’s death (along with that of Peter [Rob Delaney] the non-superpowered-member of the first X-Force [all deceased from a tragic miscalculation during a parachute drop] so he could join the new version of X-Force), kill off the earlier version of Deadpool (also played by Reynolds) from X-Men Origins: Wolverine (Gavin Hood, 2009), as well as ironically kill Reynolds the actor before he can commit to the Green Lantern movie (Martin Campbell, 2011—with me being one of the few in the universe who actually enjoyed that attempt to embody DC’s Hal Jordan up on the big screen).*

*Feel free to watch this 5:52 video about other unanswered Deadpool 2 questions, including whether any of the other original deceased X-Force folks mentioned just above (one of whom is played by Brad Pitt in a quick, cocky cameo) were saved from their previous fate by Wade’s time-travel-manipulations.  Whatever your reaction to this movie, though, I guess you can take consolation from its end credits assurance it provided 15,000 jobs (doubtful any of them were coal miners, though; you need to get to work on that long-unfulfilled-campaign-promise, Mr. President).

 Well, that’s enough about Deadpool 2 (especially for a [misnamed] Short Takes entry), which a good number of you may enjoy considerably more consistently than I did (this caustic-superhero-shtick got old for me even the first time around) so I’ll just sign off on it with the Musical Metaphor of Country Joe McDonald’s famous combo of “The ‘Fuck’ Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die-Rag” (from the 1967 I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die album) at hTXw (a solo performance by Joe without his Fish band, from the Woodstock documentary [Michael Wadleigh, 1970; review in our October 22, 2015 posting, one of my very few 5-star-decisionsas well as, I think, my only review of a film in DVD formatmaybe influenced by the nostalgia of finally getting to the site of the 3-day-concert but 40 years after the original event]) as Joe’s naughty revision of the original “Fish Cheer,” the absurdist anti-establishment tone of the song, and the extra multi-image-footage at the end of the clip which shows support for the festival’s counterculture attendees, including the nude swimmers, all seem to be appropriate for the tone of Deadpool 2 even though this movie carries no such sociopolitical messages, just a lot of sarcasm about the very genre it’s so successfully a part of (an attitude my older generation refers to as “laughing all the way to the bank”).  Also, because various notable U.S. sociocultural events have occurred in the 2-week-haitus since my last posting I’ll continue with one more inclusion from Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix’s version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in reference to the National Football League’s recent decision to fine teams (by extension, players) who refuse to stand for the singing of this national anthem prior to games (of on-field violence, with continued concern about concussion impairments), with the understanding Hendrix certainly wasn’t being patriotic in his rendition of aggressive-riffing on “the bombs bursting in air” part clearly echoing the anti-war-sentiment of the time in regard to those massive airstrikes by U.S. forces during the Vietnam War.  Maybe players from teams who don’t care for this new NFL policy yet also reject the alternative of simply staying in the locker room during the anthem can get Hendrix’s version to be played as a bit of a compromise.

Photo by Nina Kindblad, although not representative of what her iPhone camera's capable of, but there
was a clear glass barrier right in front of our
($100!) seats; I'm using it anyway because of the Graceland
album cover projected behind Paul Simon with its "grand" significance explored in the paragraph below.
 On a more personal level, another event during my recent vacation (assuming retired folks can actually take vacations) from ongoing Two Guys in the Dark work activities (not sure you can call it “work” if you’ve never been paid for it) was attending Paul Simon’s “Homeward Bound” farewell tour on May 25, 2018 at the Oakland CA Oracle Arena (home of my beloved basketballers, the Golden State Warriors, whose crucial Game 6 win in that same arena the next night allowed them to go on to Western Conference victory a couple of days ago, now to face the Cleveland Cavaliers for the NBA title) held special meaning for Nina and me because we met at Simon’s “Graceland” tour in February, 1987 in Berkeley CA, with our own career now stretching back those 31 years (28 of them married—to each other, no linguistic games here) with no retirement from that status intended by us.  (Simon’s likely not fully retired either, with additional recordings and benefit concerts sure to come, just no more extended tours like the one he’s on throughout this summer [remaining dates are listed here, including several in Europe]).  While he played a good number of his hits (only a few from the Simon & Garfunkel days, however) along with some songs I’m not that familiar with (I’ve long been a fan of his music, having had the marvelous opportunity to see Paul and “Arty” all alone way back in 1967 along with Paul backed by various bands a few times since then, but I’ve bought only a few of his more recent albums, preferring his seminal 1960s-‘80s work) one that he didn’t do (maybe he will at other venues) has never been an identified “our song” for Nina and me but easily could be, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (from the 1970 album of the same name), due to the ongoing emotional support we’ve always tried to offer to each other when either of us has been “weary, feeling small […] when darkness comes And pain is all around” (especially as we both get older, with hormone-fueled-emotional-pain subsiding even as inevitable-physical-pain increases)

  In recognition of all that, here’s an S & G live version of that song from the 25th Anniversary Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concert at NYC’s Madison Square Garden, October 2009 with Garfunkel joining Simon for one of their infrequent post-1970-reunions offering all of us something of considerably more substance in these tumultuous times than the calculated-nostalgia of Solo … or the raucous-humor of Deadpool 2, indicating my determined hope that “when times get rough And friends just can’t be found” something somehow will come forth for all of us to say “Your time has come to shine.”  So, take heart, dear friends from all over the globe and shine brightly until we meet again.
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
We encourage you to visit the summary of Two Guys reviews for our past posts.*  Overall notations for this blog—including Internet formatting craziness beyond our control—may be found at our Two Guys in the Dark homepage If you’d like to Like us on Facebook please visit our Facebook page. We appreciate your support whenever and however you can offer it!

*A Google software glitch causes every Two Guys posting prior to August 26, 2016 to have an inaccurate (dead) link to this Summary page; from then forward, though, this link is accurate.

Here’s more information about Solo: A Star Wars Story: (18:43 video on Easter Eggs, cameos, and references in this movie [if the narrator’s English accent is a bit thick for you, don’t forget you can activate closed-captions on the lower-right of the video screen—either way you’ll also get a short clothing ad at about 11 min. in])

Here’s more information about Deadpool 2: (13:45 video noting the hundreds of Easter Eggs, references, and cameos in this movie [same guy, same accent, no ad this time])

Please note that to Post a Comment below about our reviews you need to have either a Google account (which you can easily get at if you need to sign up) or other sign-in identification from the pull-down menu below before you preview or post.

If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my email address of if you truly have too much time on your hands you might want to explore some even-longer-and-more-obtuse-than-my-film-reviews—if that even seems possible—academic articles about various cinematic topics at my website,, which could really give you something to talk to me about.)

By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile. Ken

P.S.  Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.  But wherever the rest of my body may be my heart’s always with my longtime-companion, lover, and wife, Nina Kindblad, so here’s our favorite shared song—Neil Young’s "Harvest Moon"
—from the performance we saw at the Desert Trip concerts in Indio, CA on October 15, 2016 (as a full moon was rising over the stadium) because “I’m still in love with you,” my dearest, a never-changing-reality even as the moon waxes and wanes over the months/years to come.
Finally, for the data-oriented among you, Google stats say over the past month (which they seem 
to measure from right now back 30 days) the total unique hits at this site were 6,075 (still way short of our best but climbing again) below is a snapshot of where and by what means those responses have come from within the previous week (with rare entries from Vietnam and Jordan, spanning the Asian continent, so we’re very glad to have you with us and hope you'll keep returning for more):


  1. Have to say that I enjoyed your Paul Simon and earlier Simon and Garfunkle memories as much as or maybe more than either of these marginal “sci-fi sequels”. It has become increasingly difficult to define these stories as science fiction anymore; it seems they are just live action comic book fantasies. Clearly Disney has degraded the Star Wars franchise through questionable releases of marginal material and their acceptance of sloppy production values. I had some hope Ron Howard could inject enough Apollo 13 to make Solo fresh again; I guess the film was too far gone when he was called up to save the day. Deadpool was not much better but at least they did not have to hide their cgi behind dim lighting.

  2. Hi rj, Sorry I’ve been so long in getting your comment published and replying to it but there was some kind of glitch so I wasn’t even notified you’d sent it in. In the future, I’ll go into my Blogspot mailbox once a week to make sure I’m aware of any submitted comments. I agree neither of these are truly sic-fi, I catalogue them as part of the Fantasy genre that ranges (for me, at least) everywhere from Snow White to Superman because there's only so much you can be asked to believe in true sci-fi. Glad you enjoyed the S&G inclusion; they're one of my favorite acts of all time; as noted, saw them together in 1967, then Simon 6 times since then, once on a double bill with Brian Wilson, once on a double bill with Bob Dylan. What a masterful songwriter and performer. Ken