Category Archives: Movies
Solo: A Star Wars Story Review
Okay, I guess before I start I need to confess a few things.
- I really liked The Last Jedi. I thought it did something different, I thought it was exciting, and fun, and interesting. Yes, it has problems, but I still enjoyed the hell out of it. If your mileage varies, if you think that it’s the worst affront to mankind (in any form you wish to use that word that you can think of), you might disagree with my review.
- I did not think we needed a Solo film. I just didn’t. When I heard about it, I thought, “why?” I didn’t want or need to know about his backstory; about him growing up to become the character we all love.
I was wrong.
Solo is an excellent action adventure film. It’s fun, it’s exciting, the characters are interesting, and it has more than a few moments that made me grin from ear to ear.
Alden Ehrenreich is a great Han. He has the mannerisms down, and I thought he did a great job. I enjoyed the relationship between Han and Chewbacca, and how they came to be friends. Emilia Clarke was excellent. Really liked her character, and the relationship between her and Han. The other main characters were all good, and played their parts well.
But Donald Glover was phenomenal as Lando. He stole every scene he was in like it was his job. His relationship with L3-37 (who was brilliant fun) was so well done, and when they make a sequel (which they will, I’m sure), I’d like to see him return.
Unfortunately, Paul Bettany wasn’t in it enough to be a more interesting villain, but while he was on screen, he certainly did enough to make you think he was evil. And I think that the lack of a really good villain is probably the weakest part of the film.
The action scenes were well done, and exciting, and never overstayed their welcome, and while the story is pretty light, it was interesting enough to keep me wondering what was going to happen next.
In fact there weren’t really too many bad things about the film. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s fun, and at times silly, but it does feel like they played it a bit safe in parts. However, and this isn’t a spoiler, it’s alluded to throughout the film that Paul Bettany’s character is working for someone else, and that reveal made me sit up straight with a huge smile on my face.
Which is sort of the point of the film. It makes you smile. The time flies by, and it’s a fun, easy space adventure. If that’s what you’re after, you’ll love Solo.
So, I was wrong. There was totally a place for a Han Solo origin film, and I think everyone involved did a great job. Bring on the sequel.
Wonder Woman Review
I was worried when Gal Gadot was initially cast as Wonder Woman. I was never a huge fan of the character or anything, but I didn’t want a character as important as Wonder Woman to go the way of Catwoman.
Batman Vs Superman completely changed my mind. Gal was easily the best thing in the film and she was only in it for ten minutes.
So, I was really looking forward to seeing Wonder Woman, but there was a little concern too. Would DC screw it up? No. No they didn’t.
We’ll get the bad out of the way because it’s a short list.
- It’s too long. Probably by twenty-minutes, if that.
- The main bad guy is obvious from the second he opens his mouth, and he’s a little dull. The actor playing him is brilliant, but I would have liked him to be a bit more than the motivations he had. Not awful by any means.
- The other bad guy’s entire character is essentially to be creepy and weird. Superhero films do not have good bad guys as a rule.
- Some of the supporting characters are there to just make up the numbers, and don’t really get a lot of interesting screen time.
- Some of the CGI is a little weird.
Right, bad things over. Now to the good.
Gal Gadot is perfect in every way as Wonder Woman, and made the part her own. The scenes where she realises what war really is are wonderfully acted. If they want Gal to make 2 or 3 Wonder Woman films, then I’m more than happy with that.
Chris Pine is wonderful as Steve Trevor, and his relationship with Diana is one of the driving forces of the film. He plays a charming man with ease, but in this case one with more than a little sorrow and pain in his past.
Robin Wright was fantastic as General Antiope, and I wish she’d have had more screen time. An interesting character, and a badass fighter.
To be fair, everyone was at the very least good, and in most cases excellent. Saïd Taghmaoui was particularly interesting as Sameer, and got some good scenes throughout the film.
The action was brilliant. For the most part, it was just a joy to watch, and Gal Gadot really did an excellent job of looking like someone who would kick your ass if the situation arose. A special mention goes out to the No Man’s Land scene, which was utterly magnificent.
I don’t want to make this a long review, so I’ll end it with this. Wonder Woman is exciting, interesting, well acted, and a lot of fun. It’s not only the best female led superhero film by a mile, and the best DC film since Dark Knight, it’s also probably in the top three opening films for a new superhero franchise. It’s up there with Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy in term of just how brilliantly they brought the characters to life. If they build on this, they could have something truly special on their hands.
If you were worried that DC would screw it up, don’t be. Go see this film. It’s fantastic.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Review
Guy Richie is a director who I find to be quite hit and miss. I enjoyed Lock Stock, back when it first came out, I liked the two Sherlock films quite a bit, and really liked Man From U.N.C.L.E, but everything else has left me cold. That said, as anyone who’s read my books will know, I’m a big fan of the Arthurian story, and I figured it was worth a go.
The first thing is that this doesn’t really stick closely to any Arthurian story, which is fine. There’s no Merlin, although he is mentioned, no knights, and no Mordred apart from a brief moment. Again, that’s fine. If you’re going to tell a story, you might as well make it your own and put your own stamp on it. But if you’re going to this film to watch a re-telling of Arthur’s story in a close way to the original, you’ll be disappointed.
First of all the good stuff. It’s fun, it’s kinetic, there’s always stuff happening, and it’s entertaining. I had no problems at all with the silliness in this film, it’s not meant to be a serious drama about one man’s attempt to deal with a past he doesn’t want. It’s about Arthur hitting people. Lots of people, in fact. Sometimes with a sword, and sometimes with his fists, and if that’s what you’re looking for, then this film will probably fit the bill.
Some of the battle shots at the beginning are impressive, although that does lead into a negative of the simple fact that some of the green screen cgi stuff is bad. The film uses a lot of cgi toward the end of the film to show magic in use, and it just looks weird and badly done.
The actors do a decent enough job. Charlie Hunnam is pretty good as a street thug version of Arthur, and Djimon Hounsou played the sage, angry older male role model part well too. No one is going to be winning any oscars or anything, but they do the job.
It’s a shame there isn’t an oscar category for scenery chewing—which should really be the Rickman Award—because Jude Law would be a serious contender. He really should have grown a large moustache just so he could twirl it a few times. He was evil, but in that way where you’re not entirely sure how anyone as stupid as him managed to get into a position of power. I never took Jude as a threat, neither mentally or physically. He was just sort of there, but power-crazed sorcerer is as good an idea as any other, I just wish he’d been given something a bit more interesting to play with.
Aidan Gillen extends his use of frankly baffling accents with one that seems to change halfway through sentences. It’s a bit… off-putting. Other than that, he’s pretty good.
Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey is wonderful, and by far and away the best thing in the film. She plays The Mage. Yes, that’s her actual name, subtle this film is not. But she does a lot with a part that mostly asks her to just look creepy and weird.
A big problem I have with the film is the use of women. Women in this film fall into three categories. They are murdered, abused, or kidnapped. I can’t think of a single woman with actual dialog who doesn’t fall into one of those categories. In fact, one woman is kept around for the entire bloody film just so she can die. And you know she’s going to die from the second you see her. She has no personality, no reason to be, except that her death is useful, I don’t even know the name of the character.
The action also needs a mention. Sometimes it’s very good, and then they try to use slow-mo and blur effects and it looks like a really shit rave. Less CGI, more people actually doing stuff would be great. Also, no quick cuts of action scenes, they’re shit and actually hurt the film more than the mockney.
Oh, the mockney. I hated it. It was funny at first, but then after the hundredth time, I wanted to slap Guy Richie and ask him why he hates everyone so much. It didn’t help that not everyone did it, so it was really jarring when they did. But eventually, I just ended up ignoring it. It is a bit strange though.
Also David Beckham. Lovely guy, I’m sure, but don’t let him act again. Please.
This is a ridiculous film. It’s stupid, and over-the-top, and it’s full of stupid people doing stupid things. And kung-fu for some reason (although I really like Tom Wu and want to see more of him if there’s another film), and frankly if you think about any of it for too long it all starts to collapse.
Sat in that cinema, with all of it going on, I had a blast. Yes, it’s stupid. Yes, there should have been more women doing more than just getting killed, punched or kidnapped, yes the slow mo action stuff didn’t quite work, but despite all of that, I had fun.
If you can’t switch off, or you hate stupid films, films where giant unbelievable creatures do unbelievable things, you might not like this film. If you just want to go to the cinema to see a spectacle and have a few laughs. Then this is probably for you. Just don’t start pulling at the threads afterwards.
Ghost in the Shell – 2017 Review
Yeah, this is probably going to make someone yell at me.
The original Ghost in the Shell was one of the first anime—along with Ninja Scroll and Wicked City— that really got me interested in anime back in the mid 1990s. In fact I watched it again only yesterday, and it still holds up incredibly well. It spawned a sequel, a TV show; Stand Alone Complex, which is amazing, and another Tv show; Arise, which I haven’t seen yet. In short it’s a classic, and rightly credited with helping to make anime better known to the masses.
If I’m honest, I had little hope for a live-action version made in Hollywood. They’d have the budget, and probably throw good actors at it, but I doubted they’d be able to pull it off.
Then they cast Scarlett Johansson as Major, and that went down like a lead balloon. I don’t really want to get into the whitewashing debate, but I will say this, they should have cast an Asian woman as Major. That’s not really a big surprise, Major is Japanese after all (and I’m not interested in anyone saying “but she doesn’t look Japanese, that’s not a valid argument and you know it), and being Japanese and living in Japan plays a huge part in the original.
The problem was compounded when it came to light that the studio wanted to make Scarlet look more Asian by digitally screwing around. And on top of that, part of the film deals with her being white in the most ham-fisted way they could possibly imagine. I literally facepalmed when it happened. Seriously, Hollywood, if you’re going to take a non-white character and make her white, just change the whole story so it doesn’t remind everyone of the problem for a large part of the film.
Alternatively just hire the right people.
So, yeah, that wasn’t a great start to a film I had no interest in seeing. But as a fan of the franchise, and also of Takeshi Kitano who’s amazing in everything ever, I decided to go watch it. And it’s good. Actually in parts, it’s really good.
So, the negatives (apart from the above). The villain sucks. He’s just not as interesting as the Puppetmaster, and that leads into the biggest problem with the story in that it’s much more overt about everything that happens. The original had little hints and moments where you weren’t quite sure what to trust. This is a lot more neon signs pointing at the badguy. I prefer the subtly.
The ending falls flat too. It’s just sort of a, “oh is that it?” moment, unlike the original. I know it’s a different take, but it’s just really a bit meh.
Now for the good stuff.
Apart from a few occasions (and they’re really bad), the CGI is excellent. Good job all around there, future Japan is both beautiful, and overwhelming. The dirt and grime of its underbelly is brilliant here. It captured the feel of the original film well.
The music is phenomenal. Just absolutely beautiful stuff from Clint Mansell, and I will definitely be buying the soundtrack when it’s out.
Takeshi Kitano as Chief Daisuke Aramaki is wonderful. He’s a badass who takes no shit from anyone, while at the same time staying several steps ahead, and that’s exactly what the character is. I could watch Takeshi Kitano in pretty much anything, but his scenes in this almost steal the film.
Michael Pitt is very good too, although not in it much, he does a lot considering he’s mostly CGI.
Pilou Asbæk is brilliant as Batou. It’s a spot on performance. As is Chin Han who plays Togusa, and although at first it was strange that he was much older than in the anime, it really does work well.
Juliette Binoche is great too, and really does make you care about a character who may or may not have the best moral compass.
So, now to Scarlet. She’s very good. There are occasions, like all films she’s in, where Scarlet plays Scarlet, but for the most part she’s an excellent Major and has the mannerisms and action scenes down perfectly. The action is beautiful too, with some stunning set pieces (and more than almost one frame for frame shot of the original).
So, over all it’s a strange film. It’s very good, very accomplished, and the film flies by, but it’s no where near as good as the original, and Scarlet’s part could have (and should have from my point of view) been played by an Asian woman.
If you can get over that, this is a good film, with some brilliant performances, and incredible visuals. But I’m of the opinion that if you’re going to remake a classic film, you’d best make it better than that classic. And this film simply isn’t good enough to be held up next to the original. It’s very accomplished, and a lot of fun to watch, but the original, and Stand Alone Complex, are considerably better.
I know this might not read like a recommendation, but it is. It’s just a recommendation with a huge asterisk on the bottom. If you like action films, or don’t care about the anime, this is probably for you, but if you hold the anime up as a great film, or the casting bothers you, you’ll probably come away less impressed.
Hugh Jackman has had a bit of a up and down career with regards to playing Wolverine. On the one hand, he was brilliant in X-men, X2, and Days of Future Past, as well as having one of my favourite cameos of all time in First Class. He was also the best thing in Apocalypse. But when it comes to his own films, it’s a different story. Origins is one of the worst films in the genre, and Wolverine was considerably better, but didn’t have the best story, and probably some of the weakest villains in a genre that has a problem with crappy bad-guys.
Logan doesn’t fix the last point. The bad-guys in the film are there to chew scenery and get their faces ripped off. There’s no one there who is more than ‘blonde dude number 2’ or ‘that science guy’, they’re all bad, they’re all idiots, and they all deserve to die for ever thinking they can screw around with Wolverine.
However, it’s a small problem in the scheme of things, because this isn’t a film about the bad-guys and how Wolverine will win. Of course he’ll win, he’s Wolverine. This is a film about Logan, Laura and Charles. This is a film about those three people and the family they become. Everyone else is there either to help bring the family closer together, or get killed when they try to tear it apart.
Hugh Jackman is phenomenal in this film. He’s always been an incredible Wolverine, but this is the film he shines in the most. It’s a broken, beaten man who just wants to sail off into the sunset so he can die in piece, but he can’t because he’s not that kind of man, no matter how much he wants to be.
Patrick Stewart is always amazing. Always. And this film is no exception. It’s a bit weird to hear Professor Xavier tell Logan to fuck off on a regular basis, but after dealing with him for so long, it’s also understandable.
If this is both Hugh and Patrick’s last x-men film, then it’s a brilliant one to leave on.
Dafne Keen as the young X-23/Laura is a force of nature in the film, and despite spending the majority of it without ever saying a word, manages to convey so many emotions. She’s wonderful throughout the film, mixing extreme levels of violence with the innocence of someone who is still a child, no matter how much awfulness has been done to her. I hope this isn’t her last film as Laura, because she’s great.
Make no mistake, this is a bleak, dark, vicious film. There’s very little levity, there’s almost no jokes, no witty quips, there’s just an unrelenting darkness. And when you think it’s done, they find a whole new level of it. It’s a tearjerker, make no mistake about it, especially if you’ve grown up watching these characters.
It’s sort of the anti-Deadpool. Deadpool was violent, and silly, and funny, and a joy to watch because it knew what it is and it went with it. Logan is violent, and dark, and bleak, and revels in it.
So, it’s not perfect. The villains are dull and uninspired, the ending can be seen a mile away, and there’s a constant train of thought in your head that says, “ah, they have a moment of happiness, I wonder what horrific thing will happen next.”
The three central performances are key to this film. The action is spectacular, and horrifying in equal measure, but it’s exactly what this film needed. If you have any interest in superhero films, action films, or you just want to see Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart act circles around everyone else in the film, then you should go watch it. This sits alongside the best x-men films. And whoever they get to play Wolverine next (and you know they will), is going to have an exceptionally tough time following on.
Star Wars Rogue One: Review
Rogue One is a very difficult film to review. Taken on it’s own, it’s a bit disjointed and quite possibly one of the most depressing films I’ve seen in a very long time, but as part of a larger narrative, it fills in gaps and shows more about a story we all know. Or at the very least think we know.
First things first. I’m a MASSIVE Star Wars fan. I’ve seen the films/played the games/read the books and comics (although not all of them because I actually enjoy reading). So, this film is aimed at me. It really is too, this film is aimed at people who enjoy Star Wars. Anyone coming into it having never seen a Star Wars film before is likely to get pretty lost pretty quickly, but then why not make a film that caters to the fans?
It is not a perfect film for a multitude of reasons, but first I’ll talk about what works. Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso is excellent, as is Diego Luna as Cassian Andor. They’re essentially the two leads of the film, and they work well together. Neither are whiter than white heroes, and both have a lot of redemption to work toward. Actually, that’s one of the main themes of the film, at least for the Rebel side. A lot of the heroes need redeeming from their past actions (actions which show the Rebels weren’t above using pretty awful tactics to win).
Apart from the leads you’ve got K-2SO who is just magnificent in every single way. Donnie Yen as Chirrut Îmwe is badass. I’ve loved Donnie’s films for years, and I was actually hoping for even more action scenes just so he could be in them. Jiang Wen as Baze and Forest Whitaker as Saw Gerrera were both excellent too.
Unfortunately, the film isn’t without problems. While the story is interesting, and moves along at a good pace, the opening act is a little bit all over the place as they try to show everyone involved. More annoyingly, the middle section just feels like it’s missing a chunk of story. There’s a scene later in the film when Baze calls Jyn Little Sister. There’s no reason for this, and the two didn’t have any heart-to-heart moments or anything, so it just feels like there was a bit cut out.
Ben Mendelsohn is very good as Krennic, but he’s not exactly a terrifying villain. He’s essentially an administrator who wants to advance in the Empire. And he’s constantly being out-maneuvererd by Grand Moff Tarkin. Speaking of which, Tarkin is in the film a few times and yes they CGI’d Peter Cushing’s face onto another actors body, and yes it’s a bit weird. There’s just something off about it, like you’re watching what an alien thinks a human should look like. The same with another CGI character later in the film. They both look a little… strange. Not at first glance, but when they move. It’s odd, and while I get why they used those characters, they probably should have gone with another actor for Tarkin.
Oh, and Vader is in the film, but not for long. That’s not a spoiler by the way, you’d be daft to think he wouldn’t be in it. They’re pretty good, and both show just how terrifying Vader is. I’d have liked to see more of him to be honest, but that would have screwed with the narrative.
The final battle scenes are incredible. In fact all the action scenes are great, but the last 45 minutes is just fantastic.
So, it’s a little disjointed, and some of the characters don’t actually have a character beyond be badass, but as a whole it’s great, and I loved seeing some Star Wars: Rebels Easter eggs
For reference sake, here’s where I’d place Star Wars: Rogue One
Empire Strikes Back
Clone Wars TV show
Star Wars: Rebels
A New Hope/ Force Awakens
Return of the Jedi
Revenge of the Sith
500 feet of putrid crap
Phantom Menace (that last fight saves the film)
The Attack of the Clones.
So, if you’re a fan of Star Wars, go watch it now. If you’re not, then this isn’t the film to change your mind, even if it is really good.
Doctor Strange- Review
I’m not a huge fan of the original Steve Ditko comics of Doctor Strange. They’re just too… well, strange for one thing. It’s not that they’re bad or anything (although they are a hard read by modern standards), they’re just so trippy and so out there.
I am, however, a huge fan of the modern rendition of Doctor Strange, especially the new series by Jason Aaron and the incredible Chris Bachalo (who has been one of my favourite artists since he did Generation X). This film manages to stay closer to the modern day version of Strange, but it still manages to keep a lot of the trippy weirdness from the old days.
First off, Benedict Cumberbatch is brilliant. Not just brilliant, perfect. He is perfect as Stephen Strange, the arrogant and brilliant doctor who’s entire life falls apart after his hands are shattered in a car crash. He’s both serious, and funny (some of the humour in this film is excellent and I loved the cloak), and handles the physical action of the film well.
Chiwetal Ejofor does well in his role as Mordo too, as does Benedict Wong as… Wong. Those three characters are spot on.
Tilda Swinton is great as the Ancient One. Genuinely great, but then she’s great in everything. I know about all of the controversy that surrounded her being chosen for the role, and I agree it would have been better if they’d chosen an Asian actor to play a character who is meant to be Asian in the comic, but they didn’t, and it’s been discussed so often that it seems pointless for me to chime in. Needless to say, Tilda is brilliant, and brings a conflicted, but wise aura to the role, which it needed.
Mads Mikkelsen as the main villain is where the character stuff starts to fall apart. He’s very good at playing what is essentially a very dull villain. Marvel film (apart from Loki) have had a really hard time finding good villains, and this film continues that tradition of having a villain who is just a little underwhelming.
Speaking of underwhelming, Rachel McAdams does fine with what is essentially a bit part to put some romance into the story. It doesn’t really work, and I would have been fine if they’d either given her more to do, or just remove the whole character after the opening act. She’s more plot device than actual character for the majority of the film, and that’s a shame.
I should point out, that despite these misgivings, I liked this film. The story is simple, yet well executed, and the action scenes well done for the most part (there are a few where it was hard to tell exactly what was happening as the camera moved about so much, but they were rare).
The action is the star of the film. There are two sequences in particular, one in a mirror realm, and one on earth that are astonishing. The later of which might well be the most creative fight scene I’ve seen in any Marvel film. They’re both beautiful to watch and mind-blowing with their insanity, and if nothing else this film has set up magic as a terrifying, incredible, beautiful thing, and I look forward to seeing more of it in future Strange films.
The ending (no spoilers) is a little underwhelming too, and frankly the whole film feels like it could have used another twenty minutes to flesh out the villain and made him less of an afterthought. Although the way the ending is done is very creative, and I enjoyed Stephen actually being shown to be smart enough to figure it out.
It’s probably not a top 5 marvel film, but it’s certainly close to it. And the two end credits sequences hint to Strange being in a lot more Marvel films, and a dark turn for a sequel that I’d love to see.
Also, the music, like all Marvel films is phenomenal and completely perfect for the film. I don’t know how Marvel studios keep getting these brilliant scores, but they really are the master of putting them together.
So, it’s two hours of incredible spectacle and great acting, but a simple if well-executed story. My main problem is the villain. Marvel’s best villains are on their TV show, and no one has come close to the complexity of Kingpin, or evil of Purple Man. At some point the films need to correct this, because Marvel have some amazing villains to pick from, and I’d like to actually see them portrayed as a threat, not someone who’s there because the good-guy has to fight someone.
The Magnificent Seven – Review
I think the Seven Samurai is one of the finest films of all time. I love the story, the comradery of the characters, the acting, the setting, and the directing. In fact I love pretty much everything about it, but the other thing I love about it is that it’s inspired so many other films, and most of those films have been good. A Bugs Life is one of my favourite Pixar films, and the original Magnificent Seven is pretty much timeless.
But while most re-makes of classic films have me rolling my eyes at the idea—at least to begin with—I never did with this re-make. In fact, I was really looking forward to it.
There were a few reasons for this; Denzel Washington is one of the finest actors ever, Chris Pratt is always entertaining, Lee Byung-hun is a great actor who has done some brilliant films (The Good, The Bad, and The Weird being a favourite of mine). Antonie Fuqua makes films I for the most part enjoy, in fact apart from the dreadful King Arthur, I’ve always at least been entertained by what I’ve seen.
And then there’s the whole western theme. I love a good western. Unforgiven is one of the greatest films of all time, but I’m also glad they’re not done to death anymore, and that people are doing new things with the genre (Bone Tomahawk for one). Now, Magnificent Seven doesn’t really do anything new, but it what it does is fun and exciting.
I do have a few problems with it though. Several of the Seven are under-used, Lee Byung-hun being one of them, but also Martin Sensmeier. They feel like they could have used more time. This is the same for Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Ethan Hawke, both of whom have interesting characters, but are put in the background for the most part for Denzel and Chris.
Denzel and Chris are both good in this film. Chris Pratt gets a little close to playing Chris Pratt on a few occasions, but as he’s so entertaining I forgive it. Denzel is great, but he’s always great, and his real motivation for joining this group is only hinted at throughout most of the film. The problem is when the revelation comes; it doesn’t feel like the gut punch it’s meant to. It feels like it’s just added to give more to the scene.
Peter Sarsgaard was the villain of the piece and he was… okay. He’s a bad guy who has one part to his personality, and that’s to be a bad guy. I prefer my villains to be a bit more rounded, but he played the part well enough, and I was nice to see him get his comeuppance.
Vincent D’Onofrio really was magnificent, playing a softly spoken character who was almost a force of nature.
Lastly, Haley Bennett was great, really enjoyed her performance, although I wasn’t such a big fan of making her really strong for 90% of the film, and then a cowering damsel in distress when the plot called for it. That sat a bit strangely for me.
But where this film shines is the cinematography, which is stunning, and the action, which is pretty much phenomenal. The gun fights in this film are breathtaking, and the scenes with hundreds of horses running toward this small town is genuinely a brilliant piece of cinema.
So, it’s not really magnificent. It’s good. It’s certainly entertaining, and Denzel was great, but it never got over that good rank. There were times when I thought it would go to great, and I was really hoping for it, but it never quite managed it. It’s certainly worth a watch, as it’s fun and action-packed, and I hope it does well at the box-office, as it deserves to, but it’s not going to go down in history as an all-time-classic.
Suicide Squad: A Review
I did not like BvS. There were parts of it I liked, but as a whole, I found it disjointed and boring. So, it was with some concern that I went to watch Suicide Squad amidst bad reviews and stories of re-shoots by the execs. So, did they do a good job? Sort of.
This review might contain a few spoilers, but nothing that hasn’t been seen in trailers or interviews, I hope. Certainly no huge story spoilers.
First things, first. Harley Quinn is the best thing in the film. Margot Robbie is brilliant, and every scene she’s in, she either steals from everyone else, or just goes to remind you how much more interesting she is than anyone else on screen. She’s funny (mostly), insane and liable to snap and kill everyone in a second. I’ve loved Harley since her creation for the Animated show many years ago, and this is a good version of that character.
Other good things about the film include Will Smith, who does verge close to playing Will Smith on occasion, but is mostly excellent as Deadshot. He’s a favourite character of mine, so Will had a hard job of convincing me he was the person to play him.
Jared Leto is a good Joker. He’s not quite like any version of the character we’ve seen before; he’s a bit more physical for a start. But he is creepy as hell, and you really do get the impression that he would kill you for smiling the wrong way.
Many of you might have seen Batman in the trailer and Ben Afleck’s two minute cameo just reinforces how good Ben Afleck is at playing Batman.
Viola Davis is very good as Amanda Waller, a character I just can’t stand. She’s one of those people who does awful things and rarely gets her comeuppance, but she plays the character well.
Joel Kinnaman plays a good Rick Flag, a character that can best be described as bland. He’s just a bit meh, but Joel is perfectly okay in the role.
Killer Croc wasn’t all that interesting. He certainly didn’t come off at the sort of person that even Batman would be wary of. He had a few funny lines, but he was just there for the most part. Diablo is… well, he’s basically there to be latino. And a stereotypical latino too, he does very little for the majority of the film and he’s barely given any sort of character to work with. The idea of a violent man who wants nothing to do with violence is interesting when done right, and this wasn’t really done at all.
Unfortunately Katana, apart from looking cool, has nothing to do in this film. She cries once, and wants to kill a few people, but that’s it. There’s nothing there to make me care at all about her.
And then there’s the Enchantress. She might be the most boring character in the film, and not by a short margin either. Her constant jazz hands and shaky dance movements are weird and Cara’s delivery is best described as phoned in. She was the very definition of meh.
And before I forget, Jai Courtney, the man who has never been remotely good in anything in a film (although he was okay in Jack Reacher), is good in this. If getting him to play a massive dick is what it takes to get the job done, then just have him play those roles forever. He’s actually very entertaining. Although the unicorn thing is unfortunate after Deadpool. Not sure if that was in there before or after Deadpool came out, but it’s not exactly a big character part or anything.
The problem with the film isn’t the actors playing the parts, most of whom do a good to excellent job. The problem is a few things. Firstly the pacing. It’s just a mess. If this was meant to be an action-packed, summer blockbuster of a film, then why spend the first forty minutes introducing us to people, mostly in flashback form, for no reason.
We do not need to have flashbacks for every single character in the film. They take up too much time and they’re pointless. I don’t need to see Harley Quinn become Harley Quinn. That’s not a ten-minute scene that needs to happen. All it does is slow everything down so you can get a Joker scene.
Speaking of The Joker, he’s in it for 10 minutes. Now he’s very good in those 10 minutes but if you cut out all of the fluff, he’d have been in it for maybe 3. And at no point does he get a defining scene. There’s no pencil scene, or “wait till they get a load of me,” there’s just a constantly stream of creepiness and unease.
They should have made The Joker the main villain of the film. They could have had him go after Harley and all hell break loose while Harley realises that Joker is in fact an asshole. She tries to escape along with everyone else in the facility, and he goes after her. It would have been about a million times better than the actual villain, who seems to be an afterthought at best, and pointless at worst. And their plan makes no sense. Seriously, not one bit.
So, the pacing is weird and the first 40 minutes constantly slow down so they can explain who the next person is, but then the last 40 minutes are weird too. The action in the final third of the film is best described as lackluster. It’s not awful, it’s entertaining, but at no point did I go, “wow, this is awesome.”
Also, it’s edited weirdly. There’s a scene where one of the squad is stabbed repeatedly. No explanation as to why, he just is. And the next scene he’s fine. It’s a problem throughout the film, as the editing is a bit all over the place.
So, it’s not great. It’s not dreadful either. Harley and Deadshot are brilliant when on screen, and it’s probably worth it for that, but it’s a weird film. It’s not got enough good action scenes to be a good action film, and it seems to want to be Deadpool quite badly, but is neither funny enough, nor has enough heart to pull it off.
It feels like a film where execs got involved and changed a bunch of stuff so that more things went bang, but then forgot to put the story in to make it all come together. In a year that gave us Civil War, this isn’t even close to being good enough. They can’t say it has too many characters, because Guaridan’s of the Galaxy managed to introduce a lot of characters and did it well.
I’d like to see a director’s cut, and I’d like the film to do well. There’s so much they could have done with these characters and it feels like maybe they weren’t allowed to. I’d say it’s a perfectly watchable, entertaining film, but it never goes above that, and for larger than life characters like the ones in Suicide Squad, that’s a real shame.
Star Trek Beyond Review
I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine. Those were my Star Trek’s, much more so than the original Star Trek show. Saying that, Undiscovered Country is my favourite Star Trek film, with Wrath of Kahn and First Contact alongside it. I really liked the first re-boot film, I thought everyone in it was excellent and that it told a good story, while managing to be exciting. I was not such a big fan of Into Darkness, I found it used action instead of character, and the story was flimsy at best. Beyond corrects all of that and is probably one of the best Star Trek films.
First of all the story is simple and well done. I won’t go into spoilers, but the story works well, and moves along at an incredible pace. The 2 hr running time flies by.
The characters are all well-realised and work well together. Bones and Spock in particular are fantastic in this film, finally giving that relationship some much-needed time. Karl Urban has always been amazing as Bones, and this makes an even greater case for him being the perfect actor to play such an iconic part.
Chris Pine is a phenomenal Kirk. I’ve had no problems with his take on the character throughout the three films, and hope if there’s a fourth film that he continues to helm the ship. Zachary Quinto rounds out this trio, and this is his best film. There are some genuinely touching moments between him and those people he cares about, and there’s a wonderful tribute to Leonard Nimoy that really tugs at the heart-strings.
The rest of the Federation cast is phenomenal too, although a special mention goes out to Zoe Saldana, who I’ve always liked as Uhura, and John Cho who is just a badass Sulu. Lastly, there’s Anton Yelchin. It’s genuinely sad that he’ll never play Chekov again, as he does such a good job, and his passing will leave a huge hole in future movies.
Sofia Boutella is amazing as Jaylah. She’s a badass, smart warrior who gets some incredible action scenes, which as a whole as fantastic throughout the film. I hope she gets to come back for future films.
I know the Enterprise gets destroyed a lot, but you’ll still be gob-smacked at what happens in the opening part of the film.
And that brings us to our villain. Most good Star Trek films have a good villain. When Krall is first introduced, played by Idris Elba, he comes off as a generic villain, albeit a good one, but throughout the film Elba is fantastic. And while I guessed the revelations about what was happening, they were no less shocking.
So, this is a well-acted, exciting, action-packed blockbuster of a movie. Are there any problems?
Well, Simon Pegg is still a bit hit and miss as Scotty, and the ending is a little far-fetched even for this franchise. Also, some of the background fx is too loud and you can’t hear what people are saying. It happened a lot when Scotty was in the engine room, and it was a bit weird. But other than that, it’s pretty much an all round excellent way to spend 2 hours of your time.
I know the trailers didn’t really inspire hope that it would be a good film, I know they left me cold, but the use of Beastie Boys Sabotage, is phenomenal in this film. Some might find it cheesy, and I guess it is a little, but I thought it worked brilliantly.
You like Star Trek, this is for you. You like big action-packed blockbusters, this is for you. You like your sci-fi with actual characters, this is for you. It’s the best Star Trek film since First Contact. I can’t wait to see it again.