SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (theatrical release) Solo: A Star Wars Story gives the backstory to fan favorite character Han Solo who is currently based on the planet of Corellia and is desperately trying to escape from the crime syndicate he’s involved in. He’s essentially committing crimes for others in return for survival and protection. He’s looking for a way off the planet and can easily hot wire any space vessel that can get him and girlfriend Qi’ra out of any situation. Their latest attempt at escaping goes wrong separating both of them for an indeterminate time. Han promises to one day make it back to Corellia to be with Qi’ra. The story jumps forward three years and finds Han as a soldier in battle. It’s here where he meets up with criminal smugglers Tobias Beckett, his wife Val, and future co-pilot Chewbacca. Han concocts a scheme to join them on their heist mission aboard a train winding through the snowy mountains. It’s one of the best sequences in the whole movie. They eventually find themselves on another mission to transport coaxium fuel canisters. Han considers himself the fastest pilot in the galaxy, but what he needs is the fastest ship. That just happens to be the trusty Millennium Falcon currently owned by unlawful gambler Lando Calrissian who’s not about to hand over the keys to his precious Falcon. -Starring: Alden Ehrenreich, Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Thandie Newton, Paul Bettany -It’s best to go into Solo: A Star Wars Story with the right expectations. Director Ron Howard keeps this the lightest, minimalistic movie in the canon. The overall approach is that of a space western meets James Bond movie. It’s a character driven piece instead of a galactic space opera full of special effects and epic battles between good and evil with light sabers. -Unlike the new trilogy or Rogue One, Solo works the hardest at trying to buy the audience into introducing a variety of new creatures and characters. The end result is a mixed bag with a few characters leaving a strong impression, while others like the main villain, are wholly forgettable. -The movie works best when we have our returning characters like Han, Chewie, and Lando all back in the same scenes. I got a kick out of how the writers play out the budding friendship between Han and Chewie and how Lando plays into all of this. -Fans should know going in that this isn’t the Han Solo we have come to expect yet. He’s still growing into the quintessential bad boy image Harrison Ford gave him. Alden Ehrenreich successfully makes the character his own without relying on Harrison Ford impressions. He’s at his best when he gets to be arrogant and cocky flashing that winning smile of his. -Donald Glover was the standout in the film as Lando Calrissian. It feels effortless for him to inhabit this character and capture Billy Dee Williams’ tone without impersonation. My only qualm is that we don’t get enough Lando in this film, as it’s far too long before he appears on screen. Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Solo has a few winning performances but is playing it too safe given the character and franchise’s history. RATING: 3.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS QUEER EYE (streaming TV pick) Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was a huge hit for Bravo and ran for five seasons from 2003-2007. The show has been rebooted as Queer Eye for Netflix with a new Fab Five: Antoni (food and wine), Tan (fashion), Karamo (culture), Bobby (design), and Jonathan (grooming). If the original show was focused on tolerance, this new iteration is focused on fighting for acceptance and understanding each other on all sides. Each episode finds the five fab surprising their clients with a full life makeover with their looks, spaces, relationships, and most of all, their attitude about themselves. It’s not just straight men this time around, as the Fab Five also makeover a gay man helping him come out to his stepmother. -The first season is eight episodes all streaming on Netflix. -If you’re looking for a binge-worthy, feel good show that you can just lay on the couch and get caught up in a marathon than this is the show for you. -Our culture may have changed, and yet the new episodes seem fresh and needed in our pop culture scene. The world seems to feel more and more divided every day, and this show helps break down stereotypes their clients may have toward gay men, or vice versa with how the Fab Five may feel toward Trump supporters, ultra-conservatives, or the police force. A few episodes have truthful and open discussions in order to accept others beliefs and backgrounds. -Don’t be surprised if you are laughing at the beginning during the introduction scenes and then crying by the end due to the power the Fab Five have on their clients. It’s quite moving to see the clients have a newfound sense of self-esteem and self-worth that they may never have found before. -The makeovers all feel accessible for the clients and anyone watching in that the recipes are easy to make, the clothes are easy to find with reasonable price points, and the grooming tips are for everyday and low-maintenance. GAME NIGHT (streaming movie pick) Max and Annie met at trivia night at their local bar and fell in love after being on competitive teams. Years later they’re now married, trying to grow their family, and are known for their game nights with other couples. Max is feeling a bit stressed with the news that his brother, Brooks, is planning on visiting. There’s a sibling rivalry for Max that dates back as Brooks has always been the popular brother, the good looking brother, the brother that has everything in life. He’s even idolized by Max’s game night friends. Brooks arrives in town with his usual fanfare and insists on hosting the next game night. Max and Annie relent their traditional hosting duties and show up hoping for a peaceful, but somewhat competitive night of Scrabble or Charades. Brooks informs the group that he’s taken game night to the next level with a murder mystery style game where a group of actors will arrive and take someone hostage. It’s up to the rest of them to solve the riddles and find who’s been kidnapped. Men in masks and uniforms arrive taking Brooks hostage. What should be an innocent game turns a bit more dangerous when the gang realizes the kidnappers were not actors and Brooks has now gone missing. -Starring: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Jesse Plemons, Lamorne Morris -Jason Bateman plays into his usual type where he’s the no-nonsense guy, always a little ticked off about something. It’s great to see McAdams, Chandler, and Plemons let themselves go as dramatic actors to take on material grounded in physical comedy. -The writing is pretty clever keeping the audience guessing along the way as if they’re playing the game. I never knew who could be trusted or who was in on the game. Other surprise twists happen that I did not see coming. -Intune with movies like Horrible Bosses, Office Christmas Party, Rough Night where it’s an action/comedy type that starts off with an innocent and escalates from bad to worse. -Humor feels surprisingly fresh and creative throughout rarely relying on gross-out gags or raunchy sex jokes to keep it going.