Solo: A Star Wars Story, which begins screening tonight, is not among Ron Howard‘s finest efforts. It’s rotely, routinely proficient — that’s the best you can say. But I will alway respect Howard, if nothing else a reliable craftsman, for having made what I regard as his five finest films, and in this order:
1. A Beautiful Mind (’01), which is well-acted (loved Russell Crowe‘s oddball John Nash) and emotionally satisfying (the pens scene) with a magnificent James Horner score; 2. Apollo 13 (’95) — a decently written, completely satisfying situational thriller within a bureaucratic framework; 3. The Paper (’94) — a big-time journalism movie that finessed several plot threads and delivered first-rate performances, and was reasonably engaging for the most part — a not-great but entirely decent effort; 4. Cinderella Man (’05) — a totally solid ’30s boxing drama (David Poland called it “Fistbiscuit“) with excellent performances from Russell Crowe and Paul Giamatti; and 5. Parenthood (’89) — a well finessed, nicely-written, emotionally centered yuppie family drama with an excellent Steve Martin performance.
How many of the above would I be interested in re-watching? All except Cinderella Man.
Pretty good, not bad, mezzo-mezzo or somewhat minor Howard: Frost/Nixon (’03), Splash (’84), Cocoon (’85), Night Shift (’82), Gung Ho (’86), The Dilemma (’11), Rush (’13).
Meh, not-so-good, irritating Howard: Far and Away, Willow, The Missing, The Da Vinci Code, In the Heart of the Sea, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Ransom, Backdraft.
Didn’t see ’em, probably never will: Angels & Demons, Inferno, EDtv.