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.
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.
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.
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.
Ghostbusters 2016 (Review)
Okay, I’m going to start by saying that this isn’t as good as the original. It was never likely to be. The original Ghostbusters was such a lightning in a bottle kind of thing that it was unlikely to be matched. It’s also one of my favourite films of all time, so I was very apprehensive about this remake. And while it’s not as good as the original, it’s a hell of a lot better than Ghostbusters 2.
The main four women are all brilliant. Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig are both on fine form, and Leslie Jones has a few brilliant lines, but Kate McKinnon steals the show. She’s phenomenally funny in this film.
Speaking of show stealing, Chris Hemsworth is brilliant. He’s just fantastic every time he’s on screen as a bumbling, charming, complete and utter idiot.
The action scenes are well done, especially toward the end, and the film is genuinely funny in many places (including a bit where they read Youtube video comments). The cameo’s are all really fun, and the visual effects are pretty much spot on.
But it’s not perfect. It has one too many beats that are lifted from the original, which do nothing but remind you of how good the original is, and some of the jokes are just not very funny. But in a film where more hit and made me laugh than didn’t, I’ll call that a win.
Other problems include the mayor and his aide, who were just annoying, and the main villain, who didn’t seem all that dangerous at any point. Gozer was hardly given a great character, but the build up to her reveal was excellent. Here, it’s less interesting, and feels like they could have done with an extra 20 mins or so.
I assume many of you have read those hate-filled reviews and posts on IMBD or Facebook, or maybe even Twitter. Posts by usually angry white men who hate the fact that this film exists, that women are allowed to be the main focus of a Ghostbusters movie. Those people are idiots. And frankly, it’s their loss. This film isn’t anti-man, or militant feminist, or anything else people have said.
But they’re small complains in the scheme of things. If you like the Ghostbusters, you’ll like this, if you like action-packed, funny films, you’ll like this. And, one last thing; the cinema was full of young women and girls. And judging from the clapping and cheering, they loved it. This is their Ghostbusters, and it’s a fine film.
I hope they get a sequel, I hope they get that chance, because if they can come out from under the shadow of the original a bit, I think they could make a phenomenal film. As it stands, they made a really good one.
Films That Disappointed You
I watched Dracula Untold the other day. It was… not good. if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s meant to be a retelling of Dracula’s early days. There are a few good things.
1. Charles Dance
2. Luke Evans
If it was just those two, or even just a story about Charles Dance’s character, the film would have been 1000 times more interesting. But as it stands, the action, while interesting, was pointless, the characters all had the IQ of cheese and were basically there to stand around and die, and the pacing was all over the place. It was a huge disappointment.
This got me thinking about the films that have disappointed me the most over the years. And I came up with 3 that stuck in my mind.
2. The Blair Witch Project
1. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
So, what films disappointed you the most?
TMNT a Public Service
So, I watched the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film yesterday. Ordinarily I’d just write it off as another crappy Bay-esque movie (he didn’t actually direct it, but he did produce it), and move on.
This time I can’t do that. I can’t let others go through the 1 hr 45 mins I went through. So, here’s my little review.
I grew up watching the TMNT cartoon in the 90s. It was brilliant to my rose-tinted eyes. The other day I watched the original 1990s move with my youngest daughter, and apart from having aged terribly (MC Hammer, anyone) it’s still good fun. The current TMNT cartoon on Nickelodeon is great. The new film was not.
It did get some things right. I’ll list them. There are spoilers here.
The scene in the lift at the end was funny.
The part where they’re all off their minds on adrenaline was also pretty funny.
Some of the action was okay.
The score was great.
The voice work was not always dreadful.
And now the wrong.
Megan Fox is awful in everything she’s ever in. This is not an exception to that rule.
Will Arnett is less ‘being cute and trying to get Megan to like him,’ and more ‘sexual deviant.’
William Fichtner is far too good to be given the stupid that he had to work with.
Most of the action was too fast, the camera too close, so everything zips along, but is hard to keep track of.
There are parts where it’s too dark to see what’s happening clearly (especially with the above problem).
Michelangelo wasn’t funny, but was incredibly annoying.
The plot makes no sense. The badguy wants to get rich. He’s already rich. It’s also needlessly complicated.
The Shredder is awful. It doesn’t look like he can kick ass, he looks like the something the original Shredder would have looked at and said, ‘I’m not wearing that shit’,
The cgi isn’t good enough.
The doctors all act shocked when the bad guy kills someone, but they’re working for the badguy making something bad to kill a lot of people. That makes no sense at all.
It was stupid to make the turtles April’s old pets.
It was stupid to have Splinter teach himself martial arts from a book he found until he became a master.
The film takes itself far too seriously, and then it doesn’t, and then it does again, and then… you get the idea.
There’s more, but my head hurts.
The TMNT comics currently out by IDW are wonderful. They’re dark and action-packed, but still full of fun. They have heartfelt, character driven parts where characters actually learn and grow. Go read them, seriously you won’t regret it.
I think my biggest problem with the TMNT film is that it could have been great, but it’s not. The excuse, ‘it’s made for kids’, is crap. This isn’t even a film my kids liked, they’d have preferred a 90 minute version of the cartoon. Hell, they preferred the CGI Turtles movie from around 2007.
As silly as the notion of Ninja Turtles might sound, the comics prove that the idea can be done well. It’s a shame that this film is no where near capable of doing that.
On the plus side, it’s not worse than Transformers 4… but then neither is being savaged by a badger.
Guardians of the Galaxy – my review
I’ve just gotten back from seeing Guardians of the Galaxy and thought I’d leave a quick review. I love the GotG comics, especially the Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning version of the comic, so I’ve been looking forward to this for some time.
So here’s my review of the film.
It’s not only one of the best films I’ve seen this year, it’s probably the best of all the Marvel comic book films. Seriously, go watch it.
I saw the trailer for Dracula: Untold yesterday. I’d seen people on Facebook making happy faces at it for a few weeks now, but shrugged it off as yet another depressingly dreadful vampire movie.
The trailer is actually pretty good. A nice mix of vampire and non vampire Dracula. The big draw here is Luke Evans.
If you’ve never seen No One Lives, it’s a fun horror film, where Luke plays… well, basically the nastiest, most horrific badass.
He’s an unrelenting villain who enjoys creating terror and fear. It’s not the greatest horror film of all time, but it’s an entertaining 90 minutes. But more importantly Luke steals the show. And that lends me hope that he’s the perfect fit for Dracula.
I hope the new Dracula film is good, I really do. I love vampires when they’re scary. And I’d rather see more like Angelus, or the Dracula of old, than those that sparkle when it gets sunny out.