Let’s just get this out of the way: I’m a massive Coldplay fan. They were my favorite band throughout high school and the beginning of my college career; I own all of their albums on CD and vinyl, and I cried my eyes out the first time I saw them live in June of 2012. I love Coldplay.

It’s my love for the band that makes me feel even more disappointed by the fact that I’m not impressed by their new album, Ghost Stories, released in the States on May 19.

By this point, Coldplay fans and many non-Coldplay fans are aware of Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s recent “conscious uncoupling,” and that knowledge is important to keep in mind when sitting down with this album. It is undeniably a breakup album, and along with that label comes the mournful lyrics and melancholy sounds that are so characteristic of the genre (and of Coldplay’s sound in general).

At times, the album is a beautiful, heart-wrenching ode to a lost relationship; tracks like “Midnight,” “Another’s Arms,” and “O” are tracks that will join the ranks of Coldplay classics. Martin’s vocals remain as crystal-clear and effective as they have ever been, the rest of the band’s instrumental work is remarkable (guitarist Jonny Buckland in particular shines on “True Love”), and – at times – the lyrics are moving and emotional (“got to find yourself alone in this world,” “fly on, ride through; maybe one day I’ll fly next to you”).

There are many occasions, however, when the album just doesn’t feel…right.

Coldplay’s first release from this album was “Midnight,” debuting in late February in a move that surprised all but the most in-tune Coldplay fans (some had been tweeting rumors of the song’s release for several days before it happened). The song, characterized by a relaxed vibe and heavy synths, is a new direction for the band, and it’s striking, somehow uniquely Coldplay and simultaneously entirely different from anything they’ve released in the past.

However, in one of the more disappointing aspects of the album, the band abandons this sound for the rest of the tracks. The heavy studio production and synthesizers are still there, but at no point in the album do they reach the tasteful and captivating usage that they do in “Midnight.” Indeed, on multiple occasions, the production becomes far too heavy-handed and detracts from the album’s beauty. Coldplay is typically at their best when they scale back the studio tricks and depend on their skill with their instruments and their songwriting (“Shiver,” “Amsterdam,” “Swallowed in the Sea”). The album’s highlight in this regard is the gorgeous “O,” which features only Martin’s mournful vocals and the accompanying piano. It’s the most memorable and genuine track on Ghost Stories, and it serves as a fantastic closer and a reminder of just how good Coldplay can be when they forego the studio tricks.

It is, of course, worth noting Coldplay is capable of producing and has produced many beautiful tracks with a high level of production (“Talk,” “Cemeteries of London,” “Clocks”). The issue with Ghost Stories is that it offers far too many tracks that are muddled with production that distracts from the music’s raw emotion and skillful instrumentation, and this is perhaps never so evident than with “A Sky Full of Stars,” a song co-produced with EDM legend Tim Bergling, better known as Avicii. The song is the album’s one major misstep; as a whole, Ghost Stories is a mediocre effort, but “A Sky Full of Stars” is the one track on the record that can be described as cringe-worthy.

Ghost Stories is not a terrible album. At times, it offers genuinely emotional, memorable tracks; at others, it provides overproduced songs with weak lyrics. The album isn’t a tragedy, but, much like preceding album Mylo Xyloto, it doesn’t reach anywhere near the band’s previous heights and ends up being an underwhelming work. Coldplay is a band that has repeatedly affirmed that they are capable of great things. They just don’t quite reach them with Ghost Stories.

My advice? If you’re a Coldplay fan, buy it on iTunes and give it a couple of listens. It isn’t worth rushing out to buy on vinyl, but you’ll likely find a couple of songs worthy of your “faves” playlist. If you haven’t listened to Coldplay much, go back to their first two albums, Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head before judging them on Ghost Stories. And if you’re one of those people that hates Coldplay, skip the album entirely; it won’t change your mind.

How did you feel about ‘Ghost Stories’?

After all that talk of inclusivity, Star Trek Beyond falls into the Hollywood trap of implied sexuality.

Mild spoilers for Star Trek Beyond.

Star Trek Beyond, already a wildly anticipated movie, made headlines ahead of its release because of the franchise’s decision to introduce the first openly LGBT character: Mr Sulu, played by John Cho.

While this decision was certainly met with excitement, there was disappointment, too. The original Mr Sulu, George Takei, openly voiced his opinion that they should have introduced a new LGBT character rather than expand on original canon (as they have been the whole trilogy), while Simon Pegg beautifully argued that there was power in using an established character who wouldn’t be defined by his sexuality.

Then came the movie itself, and while the introduction of gay Sulu is still a great thing, we’re left sorely disappointed by Beyond‘s decision to depict the LGBT relationship — or rather, hardly depict it at all.

As reported by our friends at The Mary Sue, the scene featuring Sulu and his husband Ben depicts a “lukewarm” relationship, although Sulu is very affectionate with the pair’s daughter.

This is, unfortunately, a common problem in Hollywood when an LGBT couple — almost impossibly — makes it into a big franchise film. They’re allowed to be there, but having any kind of physical interaction even remotely resembling what a heterosexual couple might have still seems to be off-limits.

Related: Hollywood is failing the LGBT community: GLAAD slams Disney, Paramount and Warner Bros.

And, according to John Cho, there was actually a kiss filmed. “There was a kiss that I think is not there anymore,” he told Collider. “It wasn’t like a make-out session. We’re at the airport with our daughter. It was a welcome-home kiss. I’m actually proud of that scene, because it was pretty tough.”

Cho points out that Ben was played by a non-actor, writer Doug Jung, and says, “Obviously, I just met the kid, and then Doug is not an actor. I just wanted that to look convincingly intimate. We’re two straight guys and had to get to a very loving, intimate place. It was hard to do on the fly. We had to open up. It came off well, in my view.”

And we wish we could have seen it. Introducing a major LGBT character in the Star Trek franchise is a fantastic first step, and depicting two POC actors raising a child together is a great statement — but, unfortunately, the decision to cut out their kiss (which was already chaste, by the sounds of it) is emblematic of Hollywood’s continuous phobia of depicting LGBT relationships and intimacy on the big screen.

As Screen Crush also points out, this exact same scenario played out in Independence Day: Resurgence, too. In Finding Dory, the lesbian couple are only implied, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sequence.

LGBT representation (when present at all) is always so subtle, evidently in fear of offending straight audiences while not totally erasing non-straight sexualities. And, sadly, even that is considered a big step forward — but maybe it’s time we start depicting humanity as it is, and not what society wished it was 100 years ago.

Here’s looking at you, Star Wars.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reviews from theater critics are glowing, so when the hell can Americans get a chance to see the play in New York?

With just days to go until The Cursed Child script book is released around the world, The New York Post’s theater reporter has spoken to sources who say the play will be coming to Broadway sooner rather than later. Producers are currently holding discussions to bring the play to NY as early as 2017.

They haven’t yet announced a Broadway engagement for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” but New York theater people say it’s only a matter of time. Word is that Friedman and Callender are in negotiations for a Shubert theater possibly for next season. They may hit Toronto first, however.

The idea of The Cursed Child hitting Broadway so soon (“next season” could mean around May 2017) will come as a relief to American Harry Potter fans who would rather not travel overseas to see “the eighth story” (though it’s a little more affordable to do so right now thanks to #Brexit). It also speaks to this important fact: It’s important to see The Cursed Child rather than reading it.

If the show does go to Toronto first as The New York Post suggests it might, a trip to Canada would also be easier for Americans. Sorry, people who don’t live in North America.

This writer saw the play in June and absolutely loved the characters and magic happening on stage. But the story is… not the best. I’m very eager to see what fans, myself included, think of the story after reading the script book this weekend.

For her part, Rowling has promised that fans around the world will get to see the play. Only time will tell if she’s hinting at a movie or a world tour:

If ‘Cursed Child’ comes to Broadway next year, will you try to see it ASAP?

The West End production currently has dates running into May 2017, but additional dates are expected to go on sale in early August.

Present day Han Solo may’ve left the main Star Wars series after the events of The Force Awakens, but the character’s time in movie theaters is far from over.

The new Han Solo film from Lucasfilm — scheduled to hit theaters in May 2018 — might turn into a trilogy for the reluctant hero, according to the New York Daily News.

The paper reports that star Alden Ehrenreich has signed a three-picture deal, suggesting that the studio intends to expand the Han Solo spinoff into a trilogy. “They feel that his character has the right potential to become a central figure in several movies,” a source told NY Daily News. “They’re keeping things under wraps at the moment, but the deal is that he has signed for at least three movies.”

This makes a lot of sense given the popularity of the character coupled with his absence in Episode 8 and beyond. We also know that Lucasfilm and Disney have many, many grand plans for Star Wars in the years ahead: The very first Star Wars theatrical spinoff, Rogue One, opens later this year. Episode 8 then hits theaters a year later (2017), followed by Han Solo’s own movie (2018). Next comes Episode 9 in 2019, followed by yet another spinoff reportedly focused on Boba Fett in 2020.

As for 2021 and beyond? Only time will tell, but we expect more movies set in the worlds of The Force Awakens, Rogue One, and now Han Solo.

The Han Solo spinoff will be directed by LEGO Movie helmers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. They’re currently deep into pre-production, as this tweet from Lord this morning shows:

“This is the first film we’ve worked on that seems like a good idea to begin with,” the directors said last July. “We promise to take risks, to give the audience a fresh experience, and we pledge ourselves to be faithful stewards of these characters who mean so much to us. This is a dream come true for us. And not the kind of dream where you’re late for work and all your clothes are made of pudding, but the kind of dream where you get to make a film with some of the greatest characters ever, in a film franchise you’ve loved since before you can remember having dreams at all.”