Category Archives: Films

More newly watched films

This is the first blog of the year where I talk about films I’ve watched that I previously haven’t seen before, it’s been a bit of a struggle with this one as depression has kicked my arse a bit and I’ve struggled for motivation to actually watch films in general, even old ones that are comfort films for. This has therefore taken me far longer than I’d have liked to get finished, as evidenced by a Christmas film being on here. I’m hoping that my mental health is going to give me a little bit of a break and I can watch some more films. Also hopefully cinemas may actually re-open in the not too distant future which would definitely be something to look forward to, even if it’s potentially older films that will vie shown to start with.

Surviving Christmas – I’m a Big Ben Affleck fan, though I’ll concede this is more to do with his more modern output than his early stuff. I do like to give the older stuff a go though which is why I picked this up after finding it cheap in spite of it seemingly being slated ,though I obviously managed expectations as a result of this. I’m not typically a fan of Christmas films as I find them overly sentimental and incredibly predictable, I got a bit of a bad feeling in the intro where a guy is donating to a charity Santa and throws his wallet, watch and wedding ring into the collection in what I assume was meant to be funny but wasn’t really and there were a few other scenes in this where dark humour is used which doesn’t really land. Affleck at this point in his career is well cast as a millionaire douchebag who after being dumped decides he wants the family Christmas experience so essentially rents a family for the holiday and it does not initially go well. He’s naturally an utterly entitled dickhead for much of the film but learns to be a better man as things progress. This is largely due to Christina Applegate’s character who acts as the romantic foil and thankfully Applegate is a delight, as she is in pretty much anything I’ve ever seen her in. James Gandolfini is comfortably the best thing in the film though, the sense of put upon exasperation he conveys is genuinely funny. Affleck overacts to a point where it’s actually cringe inducing a lot of the time, there are moments though where he’ll play a scene much more restrained which gives a much darker subtext to what’s happening and it really does provide a glimpse of a film that would have been far more interesting. As it is it’s largely a clusterfuck, an enjoyable one, but a clusterfuck nonetheless though it does have a quite decent ending. I’d warn anyone even slightly tempted to either not bother or seriously lower their expectations. I honestly want to see a version of this film where it’s played as proper dark comedy where you get the more restrained Affleck slowly unravelling over the festive period, it would have been a much much better film.

The Place Promised in Our Early Days – One of the only Makoto Shinkai feature films I’ve not seen at this point, and apparently his feature film debut. It’s also the film of his I’ve owned the longest, I honestly couldn’t say why I’ve never gotten round to it til now but having gotten properly into his films it felt like it was about time to get it watched. My initial impression was that it fits the pattern with his previous films in that it’s visually very, very pretty, Shinkai really knows how to use colour to effectively create atmosphere. The voice cast aren’t actors I know but they did solid work, it was a pretty decent dub overall. The film follows two friends, Hiroki and Takuya, as they rebuild a plane with the intention of flying it to a mysterious tower and there’s a third friend, Sayuri, who mysteriously disappears which causes Hiroki and Takuya to drift apart. It’s much more science fiction based than his films I’ve seen previously as it takes in things like parallel universes and an alternate history where the Soviet Union occupies half of Japan, which is a pretty interesting concept though it’s never really expanded on as much as I’d like, though I guess you’d either need a huge exposition dump or more time to explore it which would impact the pacing, which is largely pretty decent overall so while I’d have liked more background I understand that there’s a balance which is necessary. It’s much more violent than the other films of Shinkai’s that I’ve seen which is a result of the backdrop of the divided Japan, it adds an element of danger to the film which isn’t unwelcome. Sayuri is pretty central to the story being told, Hiroki reconnects with her in a dream of sorts and vows to fly the plane to the tower with her onboard as he believes doing so would allow them to re-connect in the real world. Overall it’s a cool film but I think it has too many plot threads going on which means that it’s not as focussed as it could be and as a result there isn’t the same level of character development I’d have liked, this is something I’d say has been learned from in later films though and honestly my main complaint is that it’s essentially too ambitious which isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world.

The Matrix Revolutions – This was apparently released way back on the good old days of 2003 when we were allowed to do things with other people, I never bothered watching it due to how much I’d originally disliked Reloaded. I decided I should give it a go give there’s a new Matrix film on the way and because having rewatched the second film I was interested to see how it all ended given the cliffhanger, though I will concede I wasn’t exactly excited about it. I honestly wish I hadn’t bothered, the opening 45 minutes is lots of talking with one action set piece which was decent and the first three quarters of the film keeps Neo and Smith to a bare minimum which is naturally frustrating when they’re the best things in the film, in fact Neo’s most significant contribution in this period is to get himself blinded by Smith (who hijacked a human body in Reloaded) though he’s still able to see in some fashion, which is obviously very fortunate. You get a major set piece about halfway through where the machines attack the human city and they have to defend it, which they do though they seemingly now have access to mechs and other things which is a bit of a stretch given what we’ve seen prior to this and I say this knowing how ridiculous everything else to this point has been. This battle is suitably chaotic and the effects are pretty solid but it suffers from one very key problem – I literally didn’t give a shit about any of the characters involved in this sequence. The characters they’d invested the bulk of the screen time making me care about weren’t actually in the battle and basically popped up right at the end to save the day. The final confrontation between Neo and Agent Smith felt like a wasted opportunity too, it was well shot and choreographed but it just felt incredibly soulless, this wasn’t helped by the fact that there was an army of Smiths stood around just watching it happen, it was just very anticlimactic. To be clear I didn’t hate the film though I can’t say I liked it either, I just couldn’t care about it at all, I couldn’t get invested in it which isn’t something I could say about the other 2 films in the series (for better or worse in each instance). I’m still very interested in seeing the fourth film when it comes out but I have to say that expectations will be tempered accordingly, I hope they can steer clear of the convoluted bollocks which ultimately hampered the sequels.

Children Who Chase Lost Voices – Also know as Journey to Agartha apparently, this was the last Makoto Shinkai feature film for me to see at this point. Where I had a vague idea of the basic stories for his other films this one I had no clue about which meant I was pretty much going in blind, therefore my expectations were purely around it being a visually stunning film that’d most likely be quite emotional in places. The film follows Asuna, a young girl whose father has passed away and mother works a lot so she spends alot of time on her own helping at home where she can. She’s attacked by a mysterious creature and saved by Shun, a boy from the country of Agartha, who dies not long afterwards. She later meets Shin, who is Shun’s brother, and they travel to Agartha. There’s much more to it than that as Agartha is a place where the souls of the dead reside and the seeming villain of the piece wants to bring his dead wife back. It’s a more complex plot than the other Shinkai films I’ve seen in my opinion but it feels like a more contemplative piece as a result, which I think is due to the focus on death and dealing with loss, it’s incredibly interesting. Visually it’s typically impressive however it’s quite a different style to his usual films, it reminds me more of a Studio Ghibli film which may have been deliberate given it’s much more fantasy based than his other films. It’s definitely not a bad thing, just a little jarring in terms what I’ve grown used to, though it’s always a positive to see a film maker that’s able to utilise different styles effectively. The English dub is decent if a little understated, there’s no actors I recognise in the cast but from what I’ve been able to tell the cast are largely made up of established voice actors and the experience shows. My only complaint with the film would be that it gets a little convoluted at times but the ending more than makes up for it due to the fact that it touches on loss and how it can be difficult. Also unusually for a Makoto Shinkai film it doesn’t end quite like his other films as there’s a more seemingly closed ending rather than the ones he typically goes for where they’re typically left open to interpretation, overall it’s well worth checking out.

Coming 2 America – I love the original film, it’s one of those films where if it happens to be on then it’s never a bad idea to sit and watch. That being said it’s not a film I’d have said needed a sequel, and with that there’s also a feeling that it may not even be good idea as there’s really no way this can even be close to as good as the original. All that being said I was super excited when it was announced and was also quite glad it was coming straight to Amazon Prime given the pandemic and how it’s shut down cinemas. It’s definitely trying too hard to re-capture what made the first film so special, and while it isn’t a patch on the original that’s not to say it’s not enjoyable. Everyone is clearly having a lot of fun and it’s great seeing Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall playing off each other again, the barber shop is again a highlight. James Earl Jones is back briefly and his character comes off more mean spirited than he really should which is a shame and Wesley Snipes is surprisingly entertaining. The de-aged Hall and Murphy used to expand flashbacks from the first film to explain the long lost son are a little jarring, but thankfully it’s not used excessively. There’s numerous little call backs and references to the first film which should probably annoy me a little but actually I found more charming than anything else, little things like the baby elephant from the first film now being grown up to a McDowells advert. There’s a scatter gun approach to the jokes where some don’t land and some do and it’s skewed a bit in favour of the former, but the ones that did land had me laughing, there’s also a very nice Trading Places reference in there which made me smile too. It treads some familiar story beats to the first film which I initially rolled my eyes at but actually it does feel like a natural progression from the first film and maintains a lot of the sweetness from the first film, I was honestly pleasantly surprised by that. It’s an unnecessary sequel and realistically it’s not a patch on what came before but it is harmless fun, and I really enjoyed it so I’m happy with it.

Wonder Woman 1984 – I really enjoyed the first film, I thought it was fun and got the tone of the character right which hasn’t always been the case with some of the DC films. My only really complaint was around the excessive use of CGI towards the end which I thought made things a bit silly, but that’s a pretty standard feeling with any film with too much CGI so it wasn’t a huge deal in the grand scheme of things. I was therefore looking forward to the sequel though I will admit to being somewhat concerned when it kept getting delayed as that’s not traditionally a great sign. It’s visually stunning, it’s incredibly colourful and vibrant which I really like, and Hans Zimmer delivers a pretty immense soundtrack, there’s a scene early on that reminded me of the original Superman film from the 70s tonally and it eased alot of my concerns as it showed that the tone from the first film was consistent with this one which was great news. Gal Gadot is excellent once again as the title character as she always seems to be, she naturally carries the film as you’d expect and she does a great job of it. Chris Pine being back makes very little sense, they explain the character he played in the first film returning but he’s initially in a different persons body and Pine seems to return as all Diana sees is him which is a very silly but it just about gets away with this conceit as Pine is a delight as the man out of time and there’s a few good laughs there. Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig are the villains of the piece, Pascal is Maxwell Lord and Wiig is Barbara Minerva who becomes Cheetah, they’re both excellent and the characters they’re playing are pretty well realised, they’re more complex than most villains in superhero films. Wiig in particular is excellent and it’s all too easy understand some of her actions, she’s kept remarkably sympathetic despite going down the path she does. There’s some nice nods to the Wonder Woman character as a whole in there too, the invisible jet and her learning to fly, there’s also a cameo from Lynda Carter who played Wonder Woman in the old TV series. I really enjoyed the film, it’s well paced and tells a story I was interested in, sure it’s silly but it doesn’t take itself too seriously and  also manages to convey genuine emotion in there too, it’s definitely well worth checking out.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League – I’ve been curious about this since it was announced, given the amount supposedly re-shot by Joss Whedon for the theatrical release I obviously wanted to know how different the original vision was. Let’s start with the obvious concern – it’s 4 fucking hours long, which is exhausting thinking about much less actually watching, though in fairness it is split out into parts so there are natural break points in there if you didn’t watch it all at once. The film follows the same basic premise as the theatrical version but there’s more context provided, which is the advantage of the extended run time. The intro is completely different with it showing the death of Superman and how his dying scream seemingly awakened the mother boxes which drive the plot, it’s much more tonally in line with Snyder’s universe too so doesn’t feel as jarring this time around. Some of the  one liners and jokes are gone, some of these are better gone, the scene where the Flash lands on Wonder Woman and Batman’s quip about Aquaman talking to fish being examples. There’s alot of build up here, it’s slow paced for the first half with alot of world building and introducing characters interspersed with some action beats. It actually works much better than I expected though you know damn well while watching that it never would have been released like this and it does feel like hacking away some of it would have had a dramatic impact on how much sense things made given that you’d be potentially losing characters and arcs. Flash and Cyborg get far more to do in this version, Cyborg in particular feels far more important to the plot here where previously he felt like something of an afterthought and Flash, while again used for comedy relief, is much more consistent as a character. There’s a completely new score in place too, Junkie XL doing the honours here and it’s very good, the call backs to Hans Zimmer’s work from previous films is nice but I do miss the Danny Elfman score too given the references to the older Batman and Superman films. There was alot I really loved about this, Batman and Superman were much more how I’ve always seen them in terms of character, Aquaman is better characterised compared to the original version, Wonder Woman is as good as ever, there’s more Alfred which is a delight, it’s less quippy than the original which I appreciate more than I expected and the lack of Henry Cavill’s CGI’d top lip is a definite upside. The negatives are obviously that insane run time, the effects are occasionally a bit ropey, it’s at times incredibly self indulgent, I think there’s a bit too much crammed into the film and it teases a Batman film that’ll most likely never get made which is a a crying shame. Overall it’s a flawed film that’s alot of fun, it’s well worth watching if you’re a fan of Snyder’s previous DC films. It’s honestly amazing it’s even been released at all given everything that’s happened since he stepped away from the film after the tragedy he had to deal with but the campaign to get it paid off massively.

Mortal Kombat – I guess this is technically a reboot given it doesn’t connect to the original films at all, but they’re all based on a computer game series so not really sure how it all works. Trailers for this showed a level of violence that at least mirrored the games, as well as a number of things that appeared faithful to that series so I was pretty interested, though with the caveat that game adaptations are typically shit. First impressions were that it was visually impressive though the blood effects were a little off, and it makes an odd decision to introduce a brand new character called Cole Young. Thankfully he’s pretty likeable and acts as a gateway into the world the film builds, there’s a certain amount already established which you learn about via Cole which is quite  a handy narrative short cut. It keeps the core cast relatively tight compared to the sheer number of characters that have been in the games over the years, this leads to some pretty glaring omissions like Johnny Cage though which just doesn’t feel right somehow. It sticks pretty close to the games tonally, in the sense that it doesn’t shy away from the violence at all. There’s some fatalities in there too for good measure and it largely doesn’t take itself too seriously though this does jar somewhat with the intro which sort of feels like it belongs in a completely different film along with the Sub Zero and Scorpion fight later on. Casting is largely solid, Joe Taslim as Sub Zero is probably the stand out though as he’s probably the main bad guy overall and there’s a genuine sense of menace about him which is impressive. There are definitely things I don’t like, it’s little too cliched and silly in places, some of the special effects are a little ropey, it doesn’t actually have the traditional tournament at all and it basically short changes Goro massively which is a shame. That said it’s a lot of fun and leaves plenty of room for a sequel which is something I’d definitely want to see as I thought the fight sequences were great overall. There’s also scope to bring in plenty of other characters, Johnny Cage being the most obvious and then there’s the second Sub Zero which could be a great addition. Ultimately I hope it does well enough to justify further films, I’d definitely recommend giving it a watch.

Double Dragon – I confess that I decided to watch this not because I especially wanted to but more to see if it was as bad as its reputation would indicate. It’s based on a computer game where 2 brothers beat the shit out of waves of bad guys to rescue the one of the characters girlfriends, not exactly a complex plot so it’s a little odd that the film goes a v very different route plot wise. It did star Mark Dacascos though who I’ve seen in a few things so made me hopeful the fight sequences might be alright at least, and Robert Patrick as the bad guy is, in theory, solid casting, needless to say though I went in with low expectations. These expectations were not exactly reassured when after the intro to establish an ancient medallion as plot macguffin it shows the setting as being New Angeles in 2007 where you honestly can’t help feeling like just having it be Los Angeles would have been less of a ballache. You also get a flavour for how bad the special effects are going to be when Patrick’s character takes possession of half the medallion, it’s really weird to think this came out after Jurassic Park and Terminator 2 and the effects are so want, though I concede I’d imagine this had a comparatively minuscule budget. It then establishes the heroes, Dacascos playing the more serious Jimmy and Scott Wolf as Billy who for want of a better word is a dickhead, instantly unlikeable and I wanted him to have his head kicked in early doors so I didn’t have to put up with him. The whole aesthetic is just weird, the futuristic setting means all vehicles look mental and the gangs that come out after curfew look like a mish mash of the Warriors and the Village People, it’s seriously fucking weird and hard to believe someone got paid to sort it out, the heroes have a car that has what appears to be a jet engine on it which is powered by an onboard incinerator they feed newspaper into, I’m all for suspending disbelief but for fuck sake. The dialogue is dire, genuinely appalling to the point where again it’s amazing someone was paid for the script. It tries to be clever and satirical, it cuts to news reports like Robocop does and there’s cereal branded by the bad guy (though these are just Rice Krispies with the elves wearing shades and a sticker stuck over the rice part on the box), but these attempts never really work as the film makers don’t understand what satire actually is. There’s also a henchman that gets some kind of medical procedure done to him to make him stronger and he winds up looking like a ball bag, I wish I was kidding. There’s also very little fighting which is idiotic given the game it’s based on, and it’s an utter waste given that Dacascos can actually fight. It is without a doubt every bit as shit as I was expecting, and actually it’s frustrating as if you remove the mystical bollocks, and the bullshit pseudo sci fi setting and just focus on the fighting to rescue the person you’re closer to the games, you’ve arguably got a better film and you could have used some of that special effects money to pay for a better script. Honestly the only thing that makes it semi worthwhile is that Patrick seems to genuinely be having a blast as the bad guy. Watching shit like this voluntarily though seriously makes me question my sanity, there are so many things about this that I could rip to shreds but honestly it’d take too much time and space.

Men in Black International – I originally intended to see this at the cinema, the trailers had looked promising and the chance to see Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson bantering off each like in Thor Ragnarok definitely appealed to me. Then it came out and got absolutely slaughtered in reviews and I just never bothered so figured I’d give it a go now it’s on Netflix. I went in with the mind set that it can’t be as bad as the reviews indicated surely, I appreciate that I should really know better at this point and keep expectations low but sometimes I’m sense of hope overrides my sense of realism. Thompson is very much the main character here as agent M, a new hire who has managed to track the Men in Black agency over the course of 20 years, she’s a socially awkward delight and you know she’ll have come into her own by the end of the film and Hemsworth is the maverick agent, you get the impression at this point he could do this sort of role in his sleep but he’s consistently entertaining thankfully. It’s very weirdly paced as M finds and joins up and has a montage of training which happens insanely quickly and then it takes about half the film to build up to the main plot, and even then it doesn’t flow especially well. There’s some questionable effects with some of the aliens and there’s special effects like the pointlessly transforming subway train which honestly would have worked better it had remained a standard train, this is a theme in the film in that some things just seem to happen for the sake of looking cool. Some of the alien designs are pretty cool but this comes with the caveat that bar a couple of exceptions none are especially memorable. It’s unbelievably predictable, you know that the alien M meets at the start is going to factor in again at some point and it happens, though I will say it’s quite sweet when it comes. The villains are imposing but literally have no characterisation and there’s a twist that is horrendously realised, it should be meaningful but because the character doesn’t get a lot of characterisation it comes off as trite instead.The most irritating thing about the whole film is there’s some really good performances in here, Thompson and Hemsworth play off each other well, Kumail Nanjiani is fun as the voice of an alien, Liam Neeson is solid as always and Emma Thompson might be the best thing in it, which is impressive given the limited amount of time she’s actually in it. Overall it’s shit but it just about manages to stay on the side of being mildly entertaining shit, I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone but if asked it would probably result in shrugged shoulders and a comment that I’d seen worse films.

I’m really glad to have got through this finally, I think the next newly watched film thing I do will likely be pure anime as I’ve acquired quite a few new films of late and I’ve been putting them off as I’d already done a few for this blog and didn’t want to overload it where I think a dedicated one is just fine. Cinemas are also hopefully due to re-open soon so there may be some stuff worth seeing there soon, though I’d imagine not for the initial few weeks.

Rewatching films is sometimes not a good idea

The anime re-watch blog I did a little while back got me thinking that it might be a solid idea to do something similar with films in general that I’ve not seen in ages as there’s been a few films that I’ve not seen in a while that have been in my head demanding to be watched again. The always interesting thing about this is that it’s a good opportunity to see how film holds up and whether they’re as good as I remember them being, though on that note I probably won’t bother re-watching anything I previously thought was shit to see if it sits with me differently as I just don’t have the energy for that sort of enforced masochism. There’s likely to be spoilers here too just for fair warning.

Event Horizon – I’d not seen this in well over 20 years at this point, it was one that me and some school friends loved as it had a cool concept, essentially a haunted house but on a spaceship, and at the time was genuinely freaky and unnerving. The director has largely gone on to make films that aren’t exactly great so I was interested to see if I was just remembering through the pleasant haze of youthful nostalgia. The premise remains brilliant, the ship in question disappears through a wormhole a number of years later and then returns so a rescue team go aboard to investigate what happened to the crew and trouble ensues. The CGI is a bit wank but that’s to be expected given the age and the fact you’d assume it didn’t have a huge budget, it does keep this to a minimum for the most part though so it’s never really distracting. The cast is excellent, Laurence Fishbourne leads them and does so with an assured swagger but it’s Sam Neill who really stands out as the troubled creator of the ship Dr Weir, you witness the ship start showing the crew things which naturally doesn’t tend to end well for them but with Weir it drives him mad and makes him side with the ship. It’s about an hour and a half long and the first hour or so is mostly build up before the proverbial shit hits the fan and when it does it’s pretty relentless. It holds up surprisingly well it has to be said, it’s nowhere near as gory or scary as I remember it being but it was definitely entertaining to the end so that’s a positive.

Dragonheart – Another 20 something year old film, I expected this one to have dated due to there being a CGI dragon in there. There are exceptions but for the most part I find that 90s special effects don’t tend to age well. Dennis Quaid is always engaging though from memory it’s set in England and he’s a knight but makes no effort to put on an English accent and then you have Sean Connery voicing said CGI dragon so there’s a couple of plus points going in so I was hopeful though I have to say not hugely optimistic. Quaid does seem to do an accent but its so inconsistent that it’s really hard to know for definite, and actually it’s oddly endearing to be honest. The opening shows why Bowen becomes the bitter man he is and why he blames the dragons he’s now hunting for the actions of the prince he was mentor too before he became a none to pleasant king. Connery is excellent as the voice of Draco, he brings a sense of gratis and wry humour to the role and serves as a guide to Bowen to try and make him remember who he is and what he stands for and that’s the heart of the film ultimately. David Thewlis is a complete shit, which I guess shows he’s playing the villain well, and Jason Isaacs adds yet another bastard to his CV which I’d forgotten, this is back in the good old days where bad guys didn’t get much development but did get to overact magnificently. The CGI isn’t as bad as I was expecting, it’s obviously dated quite badly and doesn’t look great but it works and the way Draco interacts with the world around him is actually quite impressive still. So overall visually it hasn’t aged amazingly but in terms of how much I enjoyed the film that thankfully hasn’t changed.

Timecop – It’s a 90s action film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme which includes time travel, I have vague memories of thinking it was quite clever, which I was expecting to have after watching it again, but also memories of it being fun. It literally sets up that the makes no sense whatsoever, even by film standards, so that was expected at least, it does try and establish logic though bless its heart, and to be fair it’s not just the time travel logic that’s as dumb as fuck, the whole film is absolutely idiotic and the dialogue is absolutely abysmal. There’s a completely gratuitous sex scene and Van Damme’s character gets to have a tortured backstory in order to make him more gruff and serious, this is somewhat  undone by his incessant quipping which while amusing does little to convey gravitas, also his mullet is gloriously ridiculous. Mia Sara is largely wasted as the wife too, she’s killed of early doors and then factors back into the time travel bullshit later on. Special effects haven’t aged well which I guess is to be expected for a 26 year old film which I’d assume didn’t have the biggest budget, the upside is that there aren’t a huge number of effects shot to look shite. It’s still entertaining in spite of being stupid and ,to be honest, quite shit, it’s oddly endearing for this though. Ron Silver as the villain is a definite plus point as he seems to be really enjoying himself and hams it up quite nicely and Bruce McGill gets some great lines as Van Damme’s put upon boss. The action is amusingly over the top and you get to see some of the classic moves like Van Damme doing the splits which seemingly never gets old and the fact that the film takes itself so seriously actually makes it funnier for some reason. Ultimately it was probably shit even back in the 90s but it has the good grace to be entertaining bollocks which is easy to watch.

Near Dark – This is a vampire movie from the 80s that came out around the same sort of time as the Lost Boys, it’s a very different beast though starring Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton and Jenette Goldstein (all fresh off appearing in Aliens) as the bloodsuckers in question and Adrian Pasdar as the young man that gets caught up with them. All I could really remember was that it had strong performances across the board and a decent soundtrack so it felt like I was largely going in blind. Pasdar is good as Caleb, the naive country boy that gets dragged into things he can’t possibly understand and Jenny Wright is equally good as Mae, who is responsible for Caleb’s predicament but the film very much belongs to Henriksen, Paxton and Goldstein who are just utter forces of nature. Paxton as Severen is absolutely psychotic and really leans into the role, and Henriksen is unbelievably intense as Jesse, there’s a quiet malice there and this is one of the roles that really makes you really how underrated he is as an actor. The soundtrack is excellent, it manages to be sinister, melancholy and and fits the film perfectly, Tangerine Dream (who I’d never heard of prior to this) created something pretty special here. It’s interesting as it plays pretty loose with the typical rules of vampire lore, the only things seemingly set in stone are the drinking blood, aversion to the sun and the benefits of being a vampire, to the point where the word vampire isn’t actually mentioned at any point. It’s got a decent visual style where it makes the most of the lighting available and has some really distinct locations, and it uses practical effects for the most part which work very well. It’s an interesting blend of genres, there’s western and horror elements for sure and the art of the film is basically the romance between Caleb and Mae, it does a great job of blending these different styles into a cohesive film. The ending is a little bit jarring as it just essentially ends 2 minutes after the climatic showdown but that’s realistically a minor complaint for what is still an excellent film.

Broken Arrow – This was originally released 25 years ago which blows my mind, I remember renting it on VHS and watching it with my best mate at school. We thought it was amazing and it’s one of those films I’ve maintained a soft spot for over the years despite having not seen it an absolutely ages, I was therefore a little nervous about watching it as I didn’t want it to wind up being shit. The first thing I noted was that my memories of it having a cracking soundtrack were accurate, Hans Zimmer pretty much always does great work but I think this is one of his that really stands out. The premise of the film is ridiculous, a pilot, played by John Travolta, goes rogue on a test flight and steals a couple of nukes and it’s then up to his co-pilot, played by Christian Slater, to stop him. Travolta is excellent as the bad guy, he’s in full scenery chewing mode and is easily the best thing in the film, he honestly seems to be having the time of his life. Slater is suitably engaging as the plucky hero, he’s just the right amount of earnest to have you wanting him to save the day. The supporting cast is of a decent standard with actors like Delroy Lindo and Kurtwood Smith along for the ride but Samantha Mathis is the main support as the park ranger that gets dragged along for the ride and she’s very good as a character out of her depth doing her best. The special effects hold up pretty well, which I think is partially because there are some quite clever tricks used, for example the flight sequences at the start are done at night which makes it easier to mask certain things. The action is pretty great and holds up nicely but then I’d expect that to some extent from a John Woo film as he very much knows what he’s doing. The train sequence towards the end is a particular highlight but I don’t think there’s a weak action sequence in the entire film, I think my only real complaint is the romance that’s shoehorned in but never really properly developed, but I think that’s just down to the film being a product of it’s time. I’m really happy to find it’s every bit as fun as I remember it being, sure it’s not going to win any awards but it’s a bloody entertaining film and sometimes that’s all you need.

Judge Dredd – I remember this being a fund but dumb action film which I had a lot of time for back when I first saw it, going in I suspected that the special effects will have suffered badly and that having become more familiar with the comics than I had been at the time and having the more recent Karl Urban film that I wouldn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much. Sylvester Stallone stars as Dredd and Armand Assante as his evil twin Rico, I’d forgotten that they’d some how conned James Earl Jones into doing the opening narration which lends the film more gravitas than it deserves and I’d also forgotten that Rob Schneider was in it which didn’t bode well at all. The opening credits do reveal that Dredd’s armour was designed by Versace though which was a little weird. I have so say the the initial view of Mega City One wasn’t bad at all, someone clearly put a lot of effort into the sets, and there’s an attention to detail in terms of little details which is actually quite impressive. One of the issues early on is that all the judges apart from Dredd are portrayed as utterly useless and Stallone portrays Dredd as having a stick up his arse and just generally being constipated, it’s not helped by the general overacting going on around him by literally everyone, Armand Assante is especially guilty of this though he does appear to be having the time of his life which actually helps. The plot is utterly bollocks, Dredd is framed (by his evil twin obviously) to get him out of the way to replace the judges with clones loyal to the bad guys in charge, who Rico then naturally double crosses, which is as predictable as it is cliched, the tone is far too tongue in cheek, it didn’t need to be as serious as the more recent version but it leans a little too far into silly coming across as more of a cartoon which is a shame as there’s definite potential here. The tone is not helped by have Schneider in as comic relief, although actually he’s probably the one of the few people playing it slightly less over the top than everyone else. All in all it’s a load of shite but a fun one at least, there wasn’t a point where I wasn’t entertained even if there was a lot of eye rolling going on.

The Matrix Reloaded – I’ve only ever seen this the once and I hated it so much that I never bothered with the third film in the series, and I’m at point now where all I can remember is the ludicrous sequence where the Architect explains things to Neo in a way that’s just utter nonsensical bollocks. The reasons for the re-watch are twofold – to see if I judged it too harshly way back when and to lead into watching the third film in the series and just seeing if that one was any good, it could be a bad idea but I figure it can’t be any worse than some of the more recent shite I’ve tortured myself with. Within the opening sequence I was reminded of one of the things I disliked, slow motion is used way too much and the special effects haven’t aged especially well which didn’t exactly bode well for the rest of the film as I obviously remember it being incredibly effects heavy and that the films kicked off a massive craze of using slow motion in everything. The costumes are pretty ridiculous now, all trenchcoats, latex, leather and stupid sunglasses but again I remember how obsessed people were by them (myself included in the interests of full disclosure, I definitely wanted a trenchcoat), it just all seems incredibly impractical. There were things I’d forgotten about like the rave in the cavern which is utterly ridiculous and unnecessary, it’s something that easily could have been sacrificed. There’s also way too much exposition, characters spend way too much time talking and the stilted nature of the dialogue at times makes it tricky to watch, the actors do what they can to make it work but there’s only so much you can do. Special mention should go to Laurence Fishbourne here who truly does do his best and at least manages to add some gravitas to the shite he’s saying. Keanu Reeves, as the main star, and Hugo Weaving, as the villain, are the two best things in the film by some margin, it’s weird to think that if not for the Matrix series we’d have never gotten John Wick. The fight sequences are honestly generally very good, the sequence where Neo fights an army of Agent Smiths is honestly great fun so it’s just a shame that the excessive slow motion hinders them in my opinion. I will say that while the freeway chase sequence goes on way too long it’s honestly one of the most exciting I’ve seen in a film, genuinely had me on the edge of my seat which was a pleasant surprise as I remembered it being a bit shit, the Architect part is the same bollocks I remember it being so that at least is consistent. Overall I’d say it’s not as bad as I remember it being but in some ways it’s worse as, a few elements aside, it’s just incredibly mediocre.

Executive Decision – Another 90s film that I loved, I remember this one being a bit less gung-ho than most action films from that time due to it being on a hijacked passenger plane. Starring Kurt Russell as the lead and David Suchet as the villain, which were both sound choices from what I remembered, it was also notable for having Steven Seagal in it and killing him off in spectacular fashion very early on. I decided to re-watch this as I figured it’d be a fairly safe choice after the 2 Matrix films as figured at worst it’d still be a solid film that’d just aged poorly. The intro credits reminded me of Escape from New York a little which definitely isn’t a bad thing, it was accompanied by a solid score too. The film opens with a sequence where Seagal’s special forces team undertake a raid to recover nerve gas which is no longer there, it’s short and to the point in letting you know this stuff is going to be important in time. You’re then introduced to Russell’s character learning to fly and more setting up of what’s to come including the plane being hijacked, this is all done in the opening 20 or so minutes and it’s refreshingly to the point and not messing around though it is also a little uncomfortable given what’s happened in the world since the film was released. The infiltration of the plane is incredibly well done even though I knew how it worked out, when it starts going wrong it’s honestly one of the most tense sequences in a film I’ve seen and it’s the part where we bid farewell to Seagal as he’s sucked out when the link between the infiltration plane and the passenger plane decompresses. It’s something of a novelty in terms of this sort of film as it’s not over the top, it’s very restrained and does a really good job of building tension. Suchet is excellent as the villain, he plays him completely straight, no over acting and he’s so much more impactful for it as he comes across as a genuine threat. Russell always tends to be good and this is no exception, he’s an intelligence guy that gets dragged along and then has to help the soldiers that have got on the plane with him, which he naturally does his best with which thankfully helps save the day. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to see that it still holds up, it’s not an effects heavy film which I think definitely helps it’s to avoid feeling too dated, the only thing that’s really aged it is obviously everything that’s happened in the world since 2001 but that aside it’s still a very enjoyable film.

A Good Day to Die Hard – This is the fifth film in the Die Hard series, I’ve enjoyed the previous four films to varying degrees so I was always going to check this one out, I watched it and hated it so much that I’ve essentially erased all knowledge of the film so I can’t actually really remember what happens at all.. I’ve decided to subject myself to the likely torture of re-watching it because it could provide some entertainment when I wind up hating it all over again and there’s also the possibility that it might not be quite as bad as I’ve lead myself to believe. I opted for the extended cut rather than the theatrical cut as in theory it’s going to be the best version of the film which admittedly isn’t saying much. In the first couple of minutes I immediately took umbrage as you get a dialogue scene to set the tone of things to come and the camera isn’t steady, it’s distracting and unnecessary, I assume the rationale for this was to make things more realistic but it takes you out of the film because it just makes it appear that it’s been made by fucking amateurs. Bruce Willis is in full modern day Willis mode where he’s basically sleep walking through the film and seemingly only in it for the money, and I will never understand how Jai Courtney keeps getting work as he’s a truly atrocious actor and a charisma blackhole to boot. Courtney plays John McClane Jr (now going by Jack) who is estranged from his dad and a CIA agent, during an operation he gets himself into trouble to John hops on a plane to help him out. What follows is the biggest load of bollocks I’ve possibly every seen, McClane senior manages to blow a CIA operation, carjack someone and cause property damage on a ridiculous scale in the first half hour and he’s somehow meant to be the hero of the piece. The most impressive thing about the whole film is how it takes plucky underdog and everyman John McClane and turns him into a psychopath, in previous films he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and did his best to save the day, in this he absolutely revels in the carnage he causes and it’s a fucking terrible direction for the character. The bickering between John and Jack gets old after the first exchange but you then have to sit through an entire film of it before they inevitably make peace, it’s all insultingly predictable. It begrudges me to say but Courtney isn’t the worst thing in the film, in fact he seems to be doing his best to make the shitshow remotely palatable, the dubious honour is taken by Willis, this was just prior to him really hitting the taking any old bullshit film for money phase and it really seems like he’s checked out based on this, not helped by the fact that John McClane is written to just be an utter arsehole. It’s got what should be a decent run time, coming in at just under an hour and 45 minutes, and yet it seems far longer than that, and not in a good way – in fact it feels like it’s never going to fucking end and the actual villains have all the menace of a bastard care bear, they’re undeveloped and just a waste of everyones time. Turns out it’s every bit as terrible as I remember, honestly one of the worst films I’ve ever seen, to the point where the only positive thing I can say about it is that it does, eventually, fucking end.

Mortal Kombat Annihilation – I was going to end this with a film I had fond memories of but then I picked this up on the cheap so figured I’d “treat” myself, I say this knowing that my memory of this film is that it’s an abomination. The first film was silly but solid and above all entertaining, from memory this was a clusterfuck of bad decisions, shitty acting and piss poor special effects so I can’t say I was looking forward to it but self inflicted suffering is something I do. The film opens with a quick recap of the first film followed by an invasion of Earth by Shao Kahn and aside from the truly diabolical special effects from this sequence the first thing you notice is that 3 of the 5 lead characters from the first film have been recast, followed by how awful the script is based on Kahn’s opening speech. 5 minutes in and I was already regretting the decision to watch this as the dialogue and acting were fucking horseshit. Johnny Cage is killed off in those first 5 minutes and that’s actually a mercy of sorts as he was probably the best character in the first film and the recasting here was a significant downgrade. It’d honestly be hilarious how ineptly made this film is but for the fact it’s a franchise I like and sequel to a film I really enjoyed. The original film at least had the good grace to know how ridiculous it was a leant into where this one takes itself far too seriously, especially considering how shit it truly is. Some of the worst moments are when they try to put emotion into scenes, Cage’s death as an example, but the acting is atrocious and you get the impression some characters are just consipated rather actually emoting. It tries to shoehorn as many characters as possible from the game into the film and as a result it’s an overcrowded mess where none of them really get developed at all, you have popular characters like Sub Zero and Scorpion pop in for cameos and it’s utterly pointless. The fight sequences are shit, which isn’t what you want from a film based on a fighting game, they’re just really boring and you don’t care about anyone so you don’t really care who wins. To emphasise how stupid the film is there’s a scene where a character says Kitana is the key to winning and she then gets captured and the same character says not to go after her to rescue her, this makes no sense. I wish it had a decent soundtrack like the first film so I had something to enjoy but that’s a pile of wank too, there is genuinely nothing to recommend about this load of old ballbags. This might actually be the worst film I’ve ever watched, at least with other films where I’ve said this there’s usually something I can kind of appreciate but this is just a massive display of incompetence across the board, it literally has no redeeming qualities at all and I’m astounded that someone let it be made.

So this started out with good films and deteriorated to a veritable smorgasbord of bullshit. I had fun ripping the films to pieces though so that’s a plus, but while I’ll definitely do this again I do think I’m going to try and avoid films that are so fucking shite that they make me angry. I already have some ideas of films I want to re-watch and I already know some of them are going to be trash even though I suspect there will at least be some redeeming qualities to them where there weren’t with some of the batch here. It’s just as well I enjoy the writing element of this as the self inflicted masochism of watching some of this shit a second time would be very questionable indeed.

Even more films I’d never seen before

Here we are, still dealing with pandemic shit and not really being able to do anything like normal life so I’m still trying to use the time to watch films I’ve not seen before. There’s a couple of films I managed to see at the cinema too which was honestly a very pleasant change of pace. Obviously I’ve tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible but there’ll most likely be a few in here, though hopefully nothing too blatant.

Weathering With You – I read about this a while ago, I forget specifically what it was but it was saying about how good the film was which piqued my interest so I’ve been keeping tabs on it and waiting on a blurry release for a while. I then found out it was from the same guy that did Your Name (which I still can’t stop thinking about) and it just made me even more excited so I was hugely pleased to eventually get it and I watched it pretty much straight away as I’d deliberately avoided reading too much about it so I could go in knowing as little as possible. Visually it’s absolutely breathtaking, it’s probably the most stunning anime film I’ve ever seen and there are certain sequences that really did make me emotional. The dub is excellent, one of the best I’ve experienced and I think every voice actor is superb. I honestly loved it, it’s got some flaws, the last half an hour is a little over the top and silly in places and climate change warning is a little heavy handed even if it makes for an incredibly evocative visual but you have some amazingly realised characters, good dialogue and incredibly sweet interactions between the characters. I have the same problem I had with Your Name where it ends at a point where I’d have maybe liked a little bit longer from that point just to see more and follow what happens next but, again, as with Your Name it sits with you and lets you use your own imagination for that. I know it’s going to stick with me like Your Name did and it’s actually made me want to go back and rewatch 5cm per Second also by Makoto Shinkai, as I hated it when I first saw it but I want to see if I just didn’t understand it back then. I’ve never had a film make me want to go back and re-consider a directors earlier work so that’s definitely a new experience and I’m definitely looking forward to whatever he does next.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – To be clear the main reason I chose to watch this is that my brother has, for almost 20 years, described this as categorically the worst film he’s ever seen so naturally I was curious to see how bad after subjecting myself to Catwoman. I’ve not read the comics that the film is based on which may be an advantage as I’d imagine they’re better than this load of bollocks. I initially thought it was visually competent, shit special effects aside, but then I noticed how sloppy it was, continuity is just a word here and appearances change from scene to scene, most noticeably with the invisible man and his makeup so he’s visible, in the first 20 minutes it had changed from his face to his whole head and back again a fair few times and the vampire lady would have blood all over her face one minute, then a few spots the next, it’s just fucking lazy. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde are just want versions of Bruce Banner and the Hulk, Hyde tears clothes when he transforms but conveniently has an oversized top hat, seriously who the fuck thought that was a good idea. The acting is bullshit and the characters are all basically a bunch of unlikeable dickheads and Sean Connery clearly has not time whatsoever for this utter horseshit. It’s actually impressive in the sense that it manages to get progressively worse as the it goes on, the special effects are so bad late on it’s like the spunked on the budget at the start of the film, realised they’d fucked up massively and then didn’t even try to half arse it. The plot is so reliant on on stupid decision making and convenience that it’s actually insulting by the end of the film, you can forgive a little of this in a film generally but it seems to be the driving force here and it’s fucking insulting, literally everyone from the good guys to the bad guys is just an utter shitting cretin. The funniest part is the clear sequel baiting right at the end, I refuse to believe that the people involved in this film thought that it was anything other than a fucking train wreck. The first thing I did when I’d finished watching the abomination was to apologise to my brother for doubting him, this might actually be worse than Catwoman purely because that at least didn’t take itself so seriously, this is just utter bollocks and I frankly don’t have enough swear words to use here, it’s so utterly shit that Sean Connery never appeared in another film again.

The Way Back – I was really looking forward to seeing this at the cinema back in April, but sadly Covid happened and fucked everything up for what feels like the rest of time. I subsequently had to wait for it to be released to buy, I could have rented it a little while ago but the rental price was more than the purchase price now is which is fucking insane, and if that’s the model for film releases if cinemas remain closed then I can’t see it being a huge success but that’s a rant for another day. This is the tale of Jack Cunningham, an alcoholic who starts coaching his old high school basketball team. I was looking forward to it as I think Ben Affleck is a great actor, more so latterly than perhaps with his earlier films (though he was the bomb in Phantoms), but knowing about his own struggles with alcohol this felt like it could be an incredibly raw performance which I was interested in. I’m not familiar with the rest of the cast, they’re all excellent though and ably support Affleck who is naturally the main focus of the film and gets the bulk of the screentime. Affleck is bloody excellent, as expected it’s an incredibly raw performance but he manages to also find the heart in it too, he’s a man struggling with his demons and as you learn more about them he becomes more and less sympathetic as you know what’s happened to him and at the same time you know the people he’s lashing out at have been part of it which makes him harder to root for, it’s a fine line to balance on but Affleck manages it superbly. The cinematography is excellent, some of the scenery shots are beautiful, even if they don’t add anything to the narrative, and the basketball scenes are frenetically engaging. The use of the score is brilliant and really conveys the tone of the scenes, moving from melancholy, uplifting or fraught as needed and it really adds to the experience. It’s not a typical sports film either, the point where a more tradition film would end happens about half an hour from the end here, what follows is genuinely uncomfortable but also very impactful, the ending isn’t what I’d necessarily hoped it would be, it’s not exactly a happy ending but it’s bittersweet and it’s hopeful and it really resonated with me. I genuinely loved it, to the point it may be my film of the year so far, my only real regret is that I didn’t get to see it on the big screen.

Tenet – I didn’t think I’d get to see this at the cinema as it was essentially released 2 months ago and a lot of cinemas are closing again due to the whole pandemic situation and most new films being delayed to next year. It was therefore a nice surprise to find a smaller cinema that was still open and showing it so I went for my first cinema trip since February I think. Anyway one of there things you know you’re going to get with a Christopher Nolan film is great cinematography and this doesn’t buck that trend, the special effects are excellent and some of the set pieces are genuinely brilliant. John David Washington is exceptional, he’s adept at the easy going charm element of the character as well as the physical aspects, he’s believable at being able to beat the shit out of people all of which is impressive. Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh also all stand out but the rest of the cast are all solid too. The time travel type concept is fascinating but does become somewhat complicated, it’s very grounded and the attempt to establish the in film rules around this lead to obvious questions and headaches which is pretty standard for anything where time travel of any kind is a factor. It can be difficult to follow and as things do start to click some elements can be worked out, time travel is largely bollocks as a rule and while there always seems to be problems at least Tenet manages not to dwell on them too much and keeps things entertaining. Music wise it’s odd to have a Nolan film where the score isn’t by Hans Zimmer, this apparently due to Zimmer having other commitments. Ludwig Goransson does a good job though I don’t think it was especially memorable which is a but of a shame, it works well with the action scenes though and doesn’t detract from what’s happening on screen in anyway. It’s definitely one I want to see again before I make any long term judgements on where I’d position it alongside Nolan’s other films, it definitely feels like a film that’d work well with watching it again as it’d allow you to appreciate and be on the look out for little details that may have been missed the first time round. A definite plus point though is that it’s made just that little bit more excited for Robert Pattinson as Batman, and I was pretty optimistic about that anyway.

Bill and Ted Face the Music – Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey was the first film I ever saw at the cinema, apparently way back in the good old days of 1991, so I’ll admit I was looking forward to the sequel which I never thought would happen. First thing that was a pleasant surprise was the run time, at just over an hour and a half it never outstays its welcome. It’s a time travel film so as with any time travel film it makes no sense at all and this film crumbles under even the slightest attempt to apply any logic to things, but on the other hand it doesn’t seem to even attempt to have it make sense which is surprisingly liberating as it’s just focussed on having fun and in that it succeeds. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are clearly having a blast and seem to be having more fun playing the different versions of Bill and Ted that appear while time travelling which is where a lot of the laughs are found. The other focus of the film is on the daughters of the main characters, played by Samara Weaving and Brigitte Lundy-Paine, this is fine and their side quest is fine and entertaining enough but it’s the way that it works back into the main story that works particularly well and is actually incredibly sweet. To be honest the whole film plays it safe and doesn’t do anything that is especially brave and it probably relies on nostalgia a bit too much but it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than that and I’ll take a film that keeps things simple providing it’s entertaining, which this is. I feel like I’m being overly harsh and that’s not my intention at all, it’s one of those films that’s a comfort film, something to watch when you’re wanting to be cheered up. I will say it’s very odd watching Keanu do more light hearted stuff after seeing him kill a hell of a lot of people as John Wick, he’s not an amazing actor but seems to be good at picking roles that work perfectly for him, especially in the last few years. Overall I’d recommend the film, I came away from it with a smile on my face despite the flaws, which never actually ruined my enjoyment of things.

Patema Inverted – I’ve been checking out a bit more anime of late so I’ve been looking out for films that people have recommended and then checking the synopsis to see if it grabs me. The blurb gives very little away beyond main characters Patema and Age meeting and getting dragged in an adventure of some kind, that vagueness coupled with what appeared to be an attractive visual style intrigued me enough to give it a go. The film opens with a disaster of some kind which seems to have forced Patema and the rest of her community to live in an underground shelter of some kind where they go scavenging, Patema is seemingly more curious than most and likes to explore places she shouldn’t and while doing this she falls down a hole where she encounters Age for the first time. Age lives in Aiga, a world that seems to be much like the real world though it’s a dictatorship where the kids in school are essentially indoctrinated but Age doesn’t but into this. The key difference thing that differs between where Patema and Age are from is that they’re inverted to each other so essentially Patema stands on the ceilings when in Aiga which is a little jarring initially, Age promises to help Patema get back home and thus the real story kicks off. I really like the visual style, there’s a interesting contrast between Aiga and the underground where Patema comes from and there’s some great use of panning which I’m a big fan of, there’s some use of slow motion which is incredibly janky as it looks more like it’s being paused and unpaused repeatedly rather than being slow motion which isn’t great but is probably my only issue with the visuals. The dub is fine, the voice actors for Patema and Age give the best performances which is a definite good thing given they’re obviously the main focus, the music is mostly decent but unspectacular but there are a few stand out pieces which add to the scenes they’re in. The story is interesting and actually has a genuinely excellent twist which changes alot of what comes before and the bond that grows between Patema and Age really adds a level of emotion to proceedings that may not be there otherwise. Overall I really enjoyed this, my only real complaint is that it doesn’t tie everything together as neatly as I’d like but that’s definitely more down to my need to closure than anything the film does wrong.

6 Underground – A film directed by Michael Bay and starring Ryan Reynolds, I’m not going to lie I went into this expecting a badly edited clusterfuck full of an excessive amount of explosions which Reynolds would do his best to make work and wind up being the best thing about the film,, essentially expectations were pretty much rock fucking bottom. The opening 15 minutes has an overly long car chase which largely lives up to my suspicions, Reynolds brings his trademark snark to the table and is suitably entertaining with it and Bay brings a ridiculous amount of carnage and some excessive slow motion, so far so predictable. This opening introduces the six members of the team and what they all do and then promptly kills one of them off, where they replace him with a new guy with a completely different skill set. The opening 45 minutes is essentially all about the back story that leads into the team essentially staging a coup in a country run by an utter bastard and installing a less genocidal leader as a replacement. Lets start with the plus points, Ryan Reynolds is comfortably the best thing in the film as expected, the rest of the team are decent too and their bickering back and forth is largely responsible for a lot of the humour in the film, Bay doesn’t use quick cuts like he normally would and he has an eye for a good looking shot, for the most part this is a very pretty looking film and on the whole it’s entertaining, though that does with caveats. Now onto the negatives, and there are a few for me. It’s absolutely fucking nonsensical, you’re supposed to buy into a billionaire essentially starting his own black ops unit which works completely of any other military or national security organisation, not only that you get the impression that sometimes they rely a little bit too heavily on luck. It thinks it’s far cleverer than it is and takes itself far too seriously for the most part, I think if it was played a little more tongue in cheek then it would be easier to swallow. It’s a convoluted load of bollocks, I’m all for non linear story telling but there comes a point where it becomes hard to track and the first hour is guilty of this, it becomes more formulaic as things go on though. The bad guy isn’t given a whole lot to do bar being a dictator that is a shit and murders his own people and the film as a whole is absolutely full of cliches. While the cuts are much more controlled the use of shaky cam and slow motion definitely are not restrained in the slightest and the destruction is absolutely fucking absurd, genuinely sometimes less is more and one of the mist frustrating things is that Bay could be a great director with more restraint but basically peaked with The Rock back in the 90s. Ultimately there are worse ways to spend two hours of your life, but by Christ there are many, many better ways too.

Black Mass – A gangster film starring Johnny Depp, based on the true story of Whitey Bulger who was a mob boss became an FBI informant. I knew nothing about the film or the real life tale going in, to the point where I didn’t know that the cast had people like Benedict Cumberbatch and Kevin Bacon. I obviously was also somewhat conscious of the fact that I’ve not exactly enjoyed the previous gangster films I’ve seen so far. The film mostly plays out  in a linear fashion starting in 1975 and with some time jumps but does occasionally flash to interviews with members of Bulger’s gang with law enforcement which allow for a bit more exposition to be delivered which is a pretty smart way of doing this. Aside for the three actors mentioned there’s a hell of a cast here, people like Joel Edgerton, David Harbour, Peter Sarsgaard and Jesse Plemons to name a few. Everyone gives strong performances with whatever time they’re given, which for some realistically isn’t enough which is a shame. Naturally it’s Depp, as Bulger, that is expected to do alot of the heavy lifting and Edgerton too given that he’s portraying Bulger’s FBI handler who also happens to have grown up with him too. Depp is honestly excellent, it’s nice to be reminded that he can act as it seems that roles like Jack Sparrow have been his go to in the last few years, here though he looks almost unrecognisable and he’s genuinely menacing at times but he keeps him restrained and also human which is impressive. Edgerton does an impressive job too, he starts out as an FBI agent wanting to use Bulger but gradually this goes awry and he starts to actually help Bulger, which leads to people getting murdered, and gets entangled in the shady activities, he becomes very much a morally grey character and this becomes a much more difficult situation when a new guy comes in that’s determined to take Bulger down. It’s a slowly paced film, it paints a pretty vivid picture of the sort of person Bulger was at that point and how the agents handling him got themselves into serious trouble, it’s always interesting and becomes genuinely fascinating towards the end when the walls begin to close in. Visually it’s solid but as a rule I don’t tend to find anything set in the recentish past to be visually stunning as a rule but there’s nothing wrong with that, it does what it needs to when all said and done. Overall I really enjoyed this, I’d go so far as to say it’s the gangster film I’ve liked the most out of all the ones I’ve seen so far.

The Devil Wears Prada – I knew next to nothing about this movie going in, essentially that it was meant to be amazing and that it had inspired a shitload of memes over the years and that was pretty much it beyond it starring Meryl Streep and Anna Hathaway. The film follows Hathaway’s character, Andy, as she starts a job as an assistant to Streep’s character, Miranda, who is the editor of a fashion magazine. Obviously this doesn’t initially go well as Andy struggles with the demands of the role and the fact that no one actually properly trains her and the fact that Miranda is a demanding bastard. Hathaway is excellent as the idealistic journalist that takes the job thinking she’s too good for it, and gradually starts to commit to the role though then starts to struggle to balance her life. Streep seems to be having the time of her life in her role, Miranda is demanding, harsh and dismissive but you’re always aware that she’s a human and Streep somehow manages to keep her mostly likeable where I suspect it’d be very easy for her not to be at all. There are only two other actors I’m familiar with, one being Emily Blunt who is excellent as an utter bitch, but rather less sympathetic as a result.  The other is Stanley Tucci who I don’t think has been anything less than superb in anything I’ve seen him in, and he’s not broken that streak in this, he’s also a bitch but does it with a twinkle in his eye and you know his bitchiness is a way of showing affection and as such he’s probably the most likeable character in the film. It’s hard to really offer an opinion on the visual style as it’s mostly set in an office, the scenes not set in the office have some really cool locations so that’s interesting and the camerawork is very good at capturing the emotions on the characters faces and frames them well which is pretty impressive. The sound track is really good, whoever picked the songs that get used did a cracking job there as they really enhance the scenes. The last 15 minutes or so is genuinely exceptional, you find out the kind of person Miranda truly is and Andy realises the she’s started to walk the same path and has a decision to make about who she wants to be, and it’s a moment that the film has been doing a cracking job of building towards and it really does a lot to show just how talented an actress Hathaway is. Overall it’s definitely not a film I would usually checked out but it’s one I’m glad I did as I really enjoyed it, definitely one that’s worth checking out.

Vengeance – My friends and I have a tradition at birthdays we give each other a seemingly shit film, I usually get someone a Steven Seagal boxset. This year I got this film which I’ve never heard of, it stars Nicolas Cage and seems to be one of a huge number of films he’s done in recent years where it’s seemingly for the money. Obviously this is all initially speculation though the fact that the full title is Vengeance: A Love Story according to IMDB didn’t exactly inspire confidence that this judgement would be proven wrong, added with the 4 and 5 star ratings quote on the cover are from places I’ve never even remotely heard of and IMDB gives it 5.2 out of 10 suggested it was definitely going to be a pile of shit so my only hope was it’d wind up being so bad it’s good. The intro actually provided some positive news in that the soundtrack is done by Frederik Wiedmann who has done a cracking job on the Dragon Prince soundtrack, and the soundtrack is largely pretty decent which was a very pleasant surprise. It also opens with a movie cliche where Cage’s partner is gunned down seconds after saying about how he’s going to propose so this seemed much more in line with expectations. It’s surprisingly good looking film in places, there’s one scene early on where the characters are walking through some woods and the use of lighting is excellent and some shots look utterly awful with a clearly fake backdrop. There’s an incredibly unpleasant rape scene which is significant to the plot but feels almost gratuitous which I’d hope to christ wasn’t what they were aiming for. There’s some really shit continuity in there, the same night as the attack happens we’re expected to believe that the police arrest the suspects and arrange an ID parade, and that they then get away with it in what is possibly the worst court scene I’ve ever seen in anything up to this point, it’s just a shambolic load of bollocks, it’s utterly unbelievable. Don Johnson is pretty great as the smarmy arsehole of a lawyer he plays although he is pretty key to the utterly ludicrous court scene. Anna Hutchison, as the victim, has to do a lot of the heavy lifting acting wise and she’s honestly excellent, as is Talitha Bateman as her daughter. Nic Cage is surprisingly restrained by his standards, to the point where he doesn’t really seem to give much of a shit and actually isn’t the main focus of the film until maybe the last 45 minutes when his character takes justice into his own hands. It has to be said that this is the point where the film picks up significantly as it’s incredibly gratifying when the pricks start getting what’s coming to them even if you have to suspend your disbelief to ridiculous levels. In all it’s an unpleasant and stupid film that is nowhere near as wank as I was expecting it to be, to be clear it’s also not a good film and I think if not for the performances of the 2 female leads it’d definitely fall into utter shite territory.

I’ve got a few films already in mind for another one of these in the future, I’ve actually found these to be pretty useful for my mental health as watching the films gives me something to do and concentrate on and then the writing about them provides something else to focus on. Not sure the watching shit films is ideal overall but it at least lets me swear about something so every cloud.

Music – pretty important for other media

Music in films, TV shows and games can be a pretty fucking huge deal, at worst it should be atmospheric background accompaniment and at best it should enhance the scene it’s being used in. I thought I’d write about a few of my favourite examples of the latter, I’ve tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible but given the fact some of these are linked to specific scenes it was pretty much unavoidable for some so fair warning and apologies. I’ve embedded Youtube videos for the tracks in question so you can just skip the text entirely if needed, I’m sure I’ll need to check in on this for broken links later on.

Promise – She-Ra: We’re leaning towards the second part of this song here, though the whole thing is pretty amazing. The part I’m referring to is used at 4 very significant points in the story and is representative of Adora and Catra’s relationship over the course of the series. The first is the point in season 1 where Catra turns away from Adora and chooses to stay with the Horde, the second is season 3 where Adora realises how toxic Catra has become, the third is the point in season 5 where Catra decides she wants to be different and kicks off her redemption arc and the fourth is in the final episode of the series at the culmination of Adora and Catra’s journey, these are all incredibly emotional moments that are enhanced by what is a very emotional piece of music.

Fireworks Festival – Weathering with You: Realistically there were a few options for this film but I went with this one due to the ethereal quality of this piece of music coupled with the scene it underpins. We’ve seen Hina up to now using her ability to stop the rain to help various people but this occurrence is slightly different though as it’s on a much larger scale as she does what she does on top of a skyscraper and she’s much more confident in herself at this point. You see the sunset punch through the clouds and and then see the city bathed in the light and then it cuts to a massive firework display over the city, it’s honestly one of the most visually stunning sequences I’ve ever seen. You also get the human element as Hina is happy to be helping people and feels like she’s found a purpose and this is when Hodaka starts to realise how much Hina means to him so it’s pretty emotional too and the music just really underpins that.

The Last Agni Kai – Avatar: This piece backs the final confrontation between a redeemed Zuko and a spiralling Azula and with this type of final battle you’d normally get quite a piece of music that tries to make the confrontation more exciting whereas here you get something that’s altogether more sombre and fits perfectly as rather than focus on the excitement of the battle it’s used to highlight the tragedy of what is actually a battle between a brother and sister and how their relationship has had to come to this point, it’s incredibly sad even without considering that they’re both teenagers and how Zuko has finally found a sense of peace where Azula is being consumed by her internal conflict.

Because She’s Rayla – The Dragon Prince: This comes at a point where main character Callum is describing how he says Rayla to someone who’s just essentially tried to steal their dragon companion from them and who Raykla has just saved from near certain death. It winds up being the culmination of them slowly realising they’ve developed feelings for each other after a fair few awkward moments, and there’s one here too just for good measure. It’s a genuinely heartfelt moment on Callum’s part and you get a sense of relief from Rayla who realises he feels the same way as her so it’s natural for it to be an emotional piece of music that backs the scene, and it’s very much that.

The Fields of Ard Skellig – Witcher 3: Something of an anomaly on this list in that it’s the only one that’s not linked to a specific scene of sequence, instead it’s background music which accompanies you when you make it to the island of Ard Skellig and Geralt continues his search for Ciri. It’s a piece of music there’s a definite sense of wonder in the music but it’s also melancholic which I think fits the the potential mindset of Geralt as a surrogate father searching for his daughter, and at this point in the game you’ve spent a lot of time looking for her.

Journey – Destiny 2: This plays right near the start of the game as you make your escape from what is essentially the last safe stronghold on Earth, which you’ve just witnessed essentially get invaded and the Traveller, which is the source of your powers, be captured which leaves you pretty much powerless. It’s a sad piece which definitely brings home the sense of loss you’re experiencing at this point not knowing who else has made it out alive as you try and get as far away as possible while trying to survive against any enemies you encounter with limited means of defending yourself. As you encounter something leading you to an end point the music sweeps as drums and vocals join and it becomes a much more hopeful and resolute theme, it’s actually one of favourite gaming sequences and the music is a huge part of this.

Lifestream – Final Fantasy 7: This game was one of my first experiences of music in a game that was on par with a film soundtrack. This is my favourite piece on a truly excellent soundtrack as it’s comes at a point where you and the rest of Avalanche arrive at Cosmo Canyon and have some truths about the nature of the world and how the cycle of life and death connects to the lifestream, essentially the living essence of the planet itself. There’s a sense of sadness to the piece as you essentially have it confirmed that Shinra, who are using mako which is basically taken from the lifestream, actually are harming the planet which up to this point is almost played off as being the mad ravings of a terrorist group.

Epilogue – Red vs Blue: It would take far too long to give full context here here but this track plays over the end of season 8 where main character Church (who is an AI it’s been revealed) goes into a memory storage device to look for someone. He decides that he’ll wait for her to find him and set up a simulation of his friends and where they’d been prior to all this so she’d know where to find him. The monologue is surprisingly touching and this piece just underscores the bittersweet nature of the ending, it rounded off the story arc that seasons 6 to 8 set out to tell pretty much perfectly.

Apotheosis – Journey: The music that accompanies the final level of Journey and the meaning of the word apotheosis he highest point in the development of something; a culmination or climax so it’s appropriate both as the lead up to the end and also because you’re about to complete your journey to the top of the mountain so it fits. The music in this game is amazing and the key to how emotional it is and this track is the best of the lot as in the penultimate level you collapse in the snow. You receive a sudden burst of life which propels you on the final stage and it’s amazingly uplifting and hopeful which is never unwelcome.

Death of Optimus Prime – Transformers the Movie: This scene was absolutely devastating to young me, and also pretty much unthinkable on reflection as it has them kill off Prime who had been the leader of the Autobots in the cartoon up to this point so was a character you’d just automatically assume would be safe but actually he’s the probably the biggest character killed in what is an absolute bloodbath. He gets to go out like the hero he was by turning the tide of the battle which was something to still, Jesus. The music to the scene is just haunting, and still to this day sends shivers down my spine as he’s surrounded by the survivors passes the torch to them but his passes just makes things feel pretty bleak at that point.

There’s a million and one music tracks that I could talk about here to be honest, and that’s not even factoring in tracks with lyrics so maybe I’ll do some more of these down the road.

The great anime re-watch of 2020

I’ve watched a few anime films recently that wound up being pretty amazing in my opinion. It’s been a little while since I’d actually sat and watched any so it was reassuring that I picked good ones. It’s definitely made me want to watch more though so I’ll be looking into new stuff to get but I also thought it’d be a good chance to go back and watch some stuff I’ve watched previously and see how it holds up. I’m going to leave out Studio Ghibli films for this one though as it’d be very easy to write about all of those and I have 20 films at this point so that might wind up being an a blog of its own. I’ll also be watching with the English dub where that’s available.

Origin: Spirits of the Past – I loved this when I first watched it, I liked the setting of an earth that has mostly been destroyed owing to an accident trying to grow super plants on the moon, and I liked the characters. Upon re-watching it while I still very much enjoyed it I was more aware of the issues with the pacing of the story and how it was all a little underdeveloped and shallow. And while the main characters Agito and Toola are easy to like, they’re never really developed to their full potential and none of the other characters even get to that level. It’s a shame as there are some really cool ideas in play that never really work as well as they could do, it almost feels like a series would have been better than a film to allow for that world building and development to happen. Overall it’s an enjoyable film that could have been so much more, though I did appreciate the hopeful nature of the ending, even if you have to get through the ludicrousness of a walking volcano – which is equal parts awesome and mental.

Sky Blue – I’ve not watched this in years, I always loved the soundtrack and the absolutely amazing visual style, I also remember enjoying the understated English dub and the bleak world the film is set in. It starts with a monologue where Jay, one of the main characters, establishes what led to the world the film is set in as well as the class system that’s in place which is useful. Jay and Shua make for engaging protagonists and their bond is well realised even as they find themselves on opposite sides of the class divide. It’s impressive that a film that’s about 17 years old at this point still looks stunning, it utilises a number of different animation and film techniques which mesh together nicely. The dub isn’t as good as I remember but it’s thankfully still pretty solid, the only thing that really lets the film down in my opinion is the runtime which at 82 minutes because it means the pace is such that certain events don’t get the chance to breath that they should have, ultimately I would have liked more of Jay and Shua’s relationship as it’s the emotional heart of the film but never gets the focus it really deserves which is a shame. The upshot is that it still remains one of my favourite animes in spite of the flaws, the tone and aesthetic coupled with an interesting story and decent main characters outweigh the negatives for me and I still love it.

Metropolis – Another one I’ve not watched in ages, my initial thoughts when it started up was that it hadn’t aged especially well, and given it’s nearly 20 years old at this point it was always going to be a possibility. The backgrounds are stunning but I’m not a huge fan of the character designs as they’re overly stylised and I find them to be quite distracting, it’s a very distinct art style but one that just didn’t really work for me. I have to admit I didn’t really enjoy it as much as I remember, I found the pace way too slow to the point where it felt like nothing much really happened until the last 20 minutes or so, and while I appreciated the jazz music on the soundtrack and it definitely offered something unique compared to other anime films I also felt like it was out of place. I liked the fact that the story deals with the segregation between robots and humans, and how robots are treated by most humans and the concept of Tima, the main character I’d say, being a robot but now knowing it was excellent and that feeds into the finale which is very interesting, all in all it’s a shame that my opinion of the film has changed over time but these things happen.

Tekkonkinkreet – The only thing I can ever remember about this is that it was utterly insane and didn’t make a great deal of sense, not sure why that’s my defining memory but there we go. It’s definitely not as batshit as I remember it being but it’s definitely very weird and I’m still not 100% sure I knew what the hell was happening for most of it but it was still definitely incredibly engaging. I really liked the art style, the characters are pretty stylised but it’s done in a way that kinda makes them look like comic books come to life, and the scenery is impressively realised too. The voice cast is seriously impressive too, most of the core cast are people with an excellent voice acting pedigree and it really helps as performances are very good for the most part. I think the thing I liked best is that it took the time to establish the bond between the 2 main characters, Black and White, which seems to be something that doesn’t seem to get the focus it should based on the other films I’ve watched on this list. Overall I’d definitely watch it again in the future, if only to try and see if I can finally figure out what the hell os going on.

Steamboy – This was done by the same director that did Akira, which I’m not sure I knew at the time, and apparently the most expensive anime film ever made. I honestly don’t remember anything about it bar the fact that it’s set in Victorian England which is pretty cool, I also vaguely recall enjoying it. It’s got a really distinct visual style which I like and the darker colour palette adds to this as it makes the film feel more grounded. It’s also got a pretty great voice cast with people like Patrick Stewart, Alfred Molina and Anna Paquin being involved. The story is alright but largely pretty run of the mill, 2 opposing sides vying for power off the back of advancements made in steam power and stuck in the middle is a young boy.trying to stop it all. The steampunk element with the flying fortress powered by steam is seriously cool and the final quarter of the film is good fun as James flys around using what is essentially a steam powered rocket. The soundtrack is excellent and composed by Steve Jablonsky who was mentored by Hans Zimmer and the influence shows, it’s rather odd to watch an anime with such a western score but it adds to the atmosphere. Overall it’s probably too long and drags a bit in places but it’s entertaining and well worth a watch.

Summer Wars – Within the first 5 minutes I’d realised how little I remembered about this one, the film takes place in settings – the real world and a virtual world called OZ, so there are very different visual styles on display which is pretty cool, the OZ elements are very distinct and stand out where the real world elements look good but are pretty typical of anime. Turns out the virtual world has access to a lot of real world systems so naturally it gets hacked and things go tits up, this is happening against the backdrop of a family gathering where main character Kenji finds himself while pretending to be Natsuki’s fiancé. The family decide to fight back against the hacker and that’s when things start getting a bit outlandish as they seeming steel supplies from the military a university to get a computer setup and then drop a boat in a koi pond to help power it all, it’s delightfully odd. It’s fun and bizarre, there’s a card game in OZ to essentially avert a disaster, and while all this is going on you keep dropping in with the family and seeing how they all interact together, it’d be a lie to say they’re normal but there’s enough that you can identify with that weirdness as all families are weird in their own little ways. It’s definitely a film that’s well worth checking out as it’s unlike most animes I’ve seen and it’s refreshing to watch something a little different.

Paprika – I always get this and Tekkonkinkreet mixed up for some reason, no idea why as they’re very different films though both are seriously fucking weird. The basic premise is that there’s a machine that allows for entry into peoples dreams which has been stolen and it needs to be tracked down before a so called dream terrorist can use it. It’s pretty out there as you’d expect and the fact that it involves dreams means it gets seriously trippy as the film goes on. It’s visually pretty impressive and does a good job of conveying the assorted weird happenings and the voice acting is solid but seems to be a bit all over the place tonally, some actors play their characters completely straight whereas others seem to play it a bit more playfully or tongue in cheek, it’s an odd contrast. I really can’t emphasise how batshit the film becomes over time, especially as the dreams merge together and then start to bleed into the real world. Overall it’s mostly enjoyable if you can get past the weirdness although I have to admit I think it wants to be deeper than it winds up being, definitely worth a watch though definitely not one that has aged especially well for me personally.

5 Centimetres Per Second – I absolutely hated this when I saw it years ago, I found it incredibly unsatisfying and disliked the ending a lot. I have since then learned it’s by Makoto Shinkai who did Your Name and Weathering With You later on, which I loved, so I was keen to give it another go to see if my feelings to it had changed. The first thing I noticed is how pretty it is, I definitely didn’t appreciate that the first time round though it’s obviously not quite as stunning as the other two films I mentioned are which is understandable given it’s much older than those but there’s alot there to appreciate. It’s essentially split into 3 segments set in different time periods of the lives of main characters Takaki and Akari, it’s a story of unrequited love, drifting apart and life going on. I hated it when I originally watched it as I thought it was too slow and incredibly depressing but this time I found it bittersweet and incredibly contemplative, I still would have preferred a happier ending but that’s apparently because I’ve become a hopeless romantic in my old age and just want any romance to work out in the end. The soundtrack is solid and captures the mood of the film perfectly and the English dub is restrained really adds to the emotions. Honestly I’m glad I rewatched it as I definitely have a new found appreciation for the story being told, it’s definitely one that’s worth checking out.

Streetfighter Alpha Generations – This is the third anime Streetfighter film to have been made and I remember enjoying it because it unlike the previous efforts it removed the large cast of characters and focussed on Ryu and his struggle with the dark Hadou, a part of his martial art which relies on killing intent. It’s a more personal tale than the other films which are very much more ensemble focussed, the only other characters from the games who appear are Ken, Sakura and Akuma. First impressions of rewatching for the first time in ages are that the animation and art style haven’t aged especially well, there’s a definite impression of there being a much lower budget available comparatively. The English dub is also not great, though having looked at the work of some of the voice cast I suspect this might be due to the script as some of them have had some good roles after this, they’re just seemingly not helped by the stilted dialogue. The fight sequences are pretty decent though for the most part there’s not enough of them though the final confrontation between Ryu and Akuma is interesting as Ryu struggles not to lose himself to the dark Hadou. It’s actually intensely frustrating to watch as there’s some really good ideas that could have been fascinating had they been expanded on but ultimately it’s just badly executed which is a massive shame.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time – This was one of the first anime films I remember having a properly emotional reaction to, it follows main character Makoto as she gains the ability to time travel and initially uses this new power for her own personal gain, sometimes for incredibly petty things like being able to eat dessert again. This selfishness actually makes her incredibly relatable as you can totally understand her reasoning for doing what she does, and this makes it easier to empathise as she starts to understand that her actions have consequences for the people she cares about, including her best friends Chiaki and Kosuke and the film does a great job of establishing the relationship with the 3 of them that feels real. Visually it more than holds it’s own compared to more recent anime films, the soundtrack is excellent and the voice acting is largely excellent, it’s a very well made film that still holds up almost 15 years on. It has the typical problems with time travel where things don’t make sense if you think too hard though it at least deals with potential consequences of changing the future, and doesn’t shy away from the potential for tragedy which is impressive. The only thing I don’t really like is the ending, it leans into the more bittersweet side of things where I’d prefer an outright happy ending but that’ll always be a personal preference. It’s nice to know that it still hits all the same emotional notes even after ages though, I’m definitely glad this one still resonates the same way it always did.

This has actually been good fun, I’ve enjoyed getting to watch stuff again. I think I’ll do this again, It’d be a good excuse to watch some of the Ghibli films again and actually could translate quite well to other films I’ve not seen in ages, it’d keep me out of trouble if nothing else so there’s that at least and heading into lockdown 2 (the sequel) it gives me something to do with the writing providing something to focus on which is always handy.

Watching more films – some good, some truly terrible

I did a blog recently about watching films I’d never seen before, it was good fun and while some of the films were films I’d probably have gotten round to there were some that I probably just wouldn’t have bothered with if not for making myself watch them so I could write about them and watch something that might be a bit of my comfort zone. With that in mind I thought I’d do another one, again there’s going to be some that are obvious ones that I’ve just not got round to yet but all being well there be some stuff I hadn’t considered. I may also deliberately watch some shite films just so I can slag them off.

Frozen 2 – I loved the first one but it was film where a sequel wasn’t really needed I don’t think, and having watched the second film that’s the over riding feeling still. Let’s be clear it’s visually stunning and a very good film overall, it’s just wholly unnecessary. There’s a lot to like about it, I appreciated that it didn’t have a villain as such so there was no manufactured conflict and I liked it focussed on the bond between Elsa and Anna, that was the emotional heart of the film and it’s excellent. I didn’t like that it took so long to get going and I was disappointed that the songs weren’t as memorable as the first film for the most part. As I say not a bad film by any stretch, and well worth checking out, just nowhere near as good as the first film for me, though still much better than most films to be fair.

Revolver – I have a soft spot for most Guy Ritchie films, they’re usually fun and self aware enough not to take themselves too seriously. This one is bollocks, it takes itself far too seriously and is just needlessly convoluted. It’s a shame too as Jason Statham is usually great fun because he plays everything 100% seriously and it’s brilliant when he’s in a film that’s a bit tongue in cheek as it usually makes him the funniest thing in it. This is just largely pretentious shite that tries too hard to be deep and clever, looking at the release dates it was the film Ritchie did after Swept Away which was by all accounts utter shite so it’s possible this was just part of a bit of a blip as he did much better films after this. I think the worst thing about it is just how dull it is, even the dialogue is largely wank and that’s usually what I find the most entertaining in a Guy Ritchie film. Overall it’s just a soulless sack of shit that isn’t worth the near 2 hours of your time, I think the only thing I can recommend is that Mark Strong is quite good in a supporting role, it’s honestly bloody slim pickings though.

Aladdin – Another Guy Ritchie film and one that’s very different to his usual output as you’d expect of a live action remake of the animated classic. I wanted to like this or hate it to be honest, at least then it would have made me feel something, whereas the only thought I’ve had is how soul crushingly average it is. In terms of positives it looks nice and most of the actors in it are decent and to be honest it’d be serviceable were it not for the original which is an absolute classic. In terms of the negatives the special effects of the genie are pretty poor, the guy that plays Jafar has absolutely no presence as a bad guy whatsoever and the new song is shit and feels like it belongs in a different film. Will Smith tries his best but realistically he never convinces though to be fair he had an absolutely impossible task following on from Robin Williams. Ultimately the films winds up being completely forgettable and just feels like a soulless cash grab, I honestly wish I could hate it and slag it off or like it and praise it but it’s honestly just not worth the effort on either front.

A Silent Voice – This is an anime film about Shoya Ishida who is an utter bastard to a deaf girl, Shoko Nishimiya, at school and how this impacts him when he eventually goes too far with the bullying. It starts off surprisingly darkly where you pick up with the the guy as he gets ready to kill himself. He doesn’t and we then get a look back at how he treated Shoko and how that essentially led to him being ostracised. What follows is him feeling guilty about how he acted and attempting to be a better person, especially to Shoko. The film manages to be sweet without ever being too overly sentimental and manages to handle some pretty heavy stuff with a sensitivity I wasn’t expecting. I have two complaints, one is that Shoko confesses something to to Shoya which never really seems to be implicitly addressed which I’d have liked to have seen, and the other is there’s a scene late in the film that really isn’t believable at all though it’s clearly there to move the story along as it’s followed by an incredibly sweet exchange between the two main characters. I went into this not expecting much and to be honest it was a really pleasant surprise that it wound up being as good as it is, I seem to be a sucker for anything that stirs up the emotions at the moment and this definitely manages to do that, I really can’t recommend it enough.

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas – Possibly the worst film title I’ve ever seen and makes the film sound more like a horror film than what it actually is, which is oddly endearing. The reason for the name becomes apparent in the first 5 minutes and actually makes sense in context, the story follows Sakura, a high school student who has a terminal pancreatic illness, as she forms a friendship with her classmate Haruki. You essentially know what’s going to happen to Sakura as the film opens with her funeral, what it doesn’t prepare you for is how brutal and senseless her death actually is and it comes dangerously close to derailing what’s left of the film but thankfully its doesn’t. It’s a very moving story which never strays too much into bring excessively sentimental and that’s largely thanks mainly to the personality of Sakura, who largely remains upbeat despite her situation and is a genuinely delightful character. Haruki is harder to like but as he starts to let his guard down with Sakura he becomes much more likeable.I was getting ready to bitch about the ending as it leaves things in a very unsatisfying place but thankfully there’s a post credits scene which leaves things in a much happier, if slightly bittersweet, place. I’m really glad I watched it though, it’s a film I’d been looking at for a while and have always put it off as the title really didn’t inspire much confidence that the tone wouldn’t be all over the place but I’m honestly glad I got past it. The focus on the 2 main characters allows for a genuine connection with them which really adds weight to the more emotional scenes, and christ there are a lot of them, but they’re never anything other than utterly compelling. I’m honestly glad I’m getting to watch films like this and A Silent Voice as I’m lucking into some of the best films I’ve ever seen.

Your Name – This film is the tale of Mitsuha, a girl bored of living in a small town in the sticks, and Taki, a boy living in Tokyo, as they begin to switch bodies intermittently and live each others lives. You’d think this premise would be the start of a freaky Friday type film filled with shenanigans and there’s a little of that to start with, but then the plot takes a turn off the serious and it becomes part disaster movie and part love story, I don’t want to go into the specifics of the story as it’s fucking brilliant and deserves to be appreciated. It benefits massively from the 2 main characters being excellent and from a likeable cast of supporting characters, thankfully the voice acting is up to scratch too. It’s also one of the most visually stunning films I’ve ever seen, there’s so much attention to detail in terms of the backgrounds and the visual style that I’d honestly quite like to get a book of the art to be able to appreciate it more, the sequence towards the end in the snowy city is frankly beautiful but there are so many things that I could mention, and some of the panning shots are breathtaking. Honestly if you’re a fan of art I’d recommend checking the film out just on that basis as it’s really something special. I only really have 2 complaints, the first is that I’d have liked for there to have been more, on the plus side it never outstays it’s welcome but to me it also feels like it leaves a little too soon, which I don’t find myself feeling about many things. The second is the ending 10 or so minutes feels like it’s stringing the viewer on a little, teasing the emotional pay off longer than is strictly necessary and while the pay off is satisfying and sweet it definitely leaves you wanting that little bit more to show you what comes after, the advantage to an ending like that though is that it leaves it to you to imagine what comes next for the characters meaning it sticks with you where other films don’t, it’s honestly one of the most unforgettable films I’ve ever seen.

Jackie Brown – I’ve avoided this one predominantly because it’s a Quentin Tarantino and I invariably tend to just get annoyed with them these days as the basic premise is usually great but he can’t restrain himself and I find that things seem to end up being over the top bollocks. I was interested in this one though as it had a great core cast and was adapted from an Elmore Leonard story and I’d heard of Leonard due to him having created the character of Raylan Givens who is the main character in a TV show I love called Justified. Watching it Samuel L Jackson is as excellent as he always is, Robert De Niro is solid and Pam Grier basically has to carry the film and she does an amazing job of it, Bridget Fonda does a good job with her screen time and Chris Tucker is in here briefly and is decent, and pretty restrained compared to literally everything else he’s on. Realistically the only complaint about the cast is that Michael Keaton is completely under-utilised. What I think Tarantino is excellent at is build up, he’s great at moving the pieces around to setup up the ending, what I’ve found with his modern output is that his lack of restraint and need to go over the top takes me out of the film and ruins all the build up that’s gone before. I have to say though on this one he gets it pretty much spot on, things unravel as you’d expect but it’s always restrained and understated, preferring to focus on the characters rather than the action and I honestly really appreciated it, I’d honestly put it in my top 3 Tarantino films along with Reservoir Dogs and the Hateful Eight. I think this is why I get so frustrated with his films as a rule, there are so many things he does that I like but he’s also equally capable of doing things I utterly hate, though I appreciate he’s not making films with me in mind so ultimately who gives a shit.

Catwoman – Jesus fucking christ! Full disclosure I decided to watch this as I knew I was more than likely going to hate it and figured it’d be quite amusing, I’d therefore set my expectations what I thought was suitably low enough given the films reputation. Turns out I’d not lowered them anywhere near enough for this absolute pile of dog shit, I actually feel betrayed by the world for underselling just how much of a fucking abomination this is. There are good actors in here, Halle Berry had won an Oscar for fuck sake, but it’s like they were all told to just forget about all that acting malarkey and just put in performances that would make modern day Nicolas Cage cringe with embarrassment. The cinematography can be summed up best as being wank and at worst an absolute goddamn travesty, the soundtrack is shit and feels like it belongs in a film with a completely different tone to this one, the special effects are bollocks plain and simple and the dialogue is fucking diabolical. I think the worst item on this list of cinematic crimes though is the complete disregard it has to the source material. I can understand wanting to make changes to the lore to make a better film but to basically have it so that the main character dies and gets brought back to life by a cat breathing on her, this super natural resurrection has the added benefit of giving the ability to have magnifying eyesight, jump high, eat lots of cans of fish in a single go and be really good at basketball and fairground attractions, you know, just like a cat is (I like to feel you can sense the eye roll at this point), coupled with a villain that’s super hard skin from a beauty cream with side effects and you know you’re a one of a kind film and I don’t this as a compliment in any way shape or form. Quite possibly the worst film I’ve ever had the misfortune to watch (and I’m very aware I inflicted it on myself), this clusterfuck has literally one good thing going for it and that was that I knew it had to end at some point, please for the love of all that’s holy don’t ever watch this.

Still Waiting – This is a sequel to Waiting which I didn’t even know existed until I started looking through Amazon. It some how manages to get quite a few of the original cast back onboard, not the really big names naturally, but still seems impressive though you get the impression they know they’ve been conned into it some how. I essentially decided to watch to see just how shit it was going to be, lessons learned from Catwoman were to basically expect the absolute worst. Needless to say it’s fucking atrocious, the original had no plot as such but was carried by the cast, in this one they’ve got a guy who’s basically doing a really shit Ryan Reynolds impression but without of the likeable charm, and he constantly strays into offensive territory and just doesn’t have the charisma to get away with it, what I’m saying is that he’s shit. The other new cast members aren’t exactly great but are at least not attempting a piss poor impersonation of someone else so there’s that. It also attempts to just recycle jokes from the original film but shit, and it’s far to reliant on trying to re-tread what worked before that it doesn’t try to have its own identity. It’s also incredibly mean spirited, pretty everyone in the film treats everyone else like utter shit and it makes them incredibly unlikeable, there’s a fine line with bastardry and it’s hugely advantageous in a film to not make everyone utter pricks. They also somehow managed to get Justin Long back for a cameo and while he is comfortably the best thing in the entire film it complete ruins his character arc from the first film, fuck knows how they got him back for it also, I’d assume a ridiculous amount of money as nothing else makes any sense. On the plus side I knew going in it was going to be absolute dog shit and it didn’t let me down on that front, there is honestly no reason for this film to exist at all and honestly the world would have probably been a better place for it. I’m currently cursing the morbid curiosity that convinced me to watch this, if you’re even remotely tempted to watch this pile of wank please don’t just watch the original instead, which while not a good film is at least entertaining. 

Interstellar – I’ve seen most of Christopher Nolan’s films at this point, can’t remember why I never saw this at the cinema but the reason I’ve put if off to date is the near three hour run time as I’m at a point where the thought of a film of that length just exhausts me. The first 45 minutes are setting the scene of what’s to come and I have to say the Earth that’s present in this is scary and fascinating given that it shows an earth that’s incredibly similar to the one we’re on but with subtle differences like the mention of new text books where human history has been changed and children being forced into jobs and the fact that the planet is dying just adds to this. The one thing you’re pretty much guaranteed with a Nolan film is that it’ll be visually impressive and the cinematography will be excellent and this is no exception, the scenes on Earth are pretty fucking bleak and scenes on other planets are sparsely beautiful. Matthew McConaughey as Cooper is absolutely amazing, it’s probably the best performance I’ve seen him put in and every other member of the supporting cast is nothing short of excellent, it’s also worth giving a special mention to the two robot characters, they have awesome designs and really unique personalities. One thing I really liked was the concept that one hour where they travel to is the equivalent of 7 years on Earth, this allows for a time jump which has Coopers kids grow up and their messages to their father are help add a hell of a lot of emotion to proceedings and the shifts to their stories help ground things and really emphasise what’s at stake with the main story. I also liked the fact that it manages to be genuinely tense in places, there’s a real sense that things might not end how you expect and that’s a novelty and makes the film even better. In terms of the ending it’s equal parts unbelievable, hopeful and bittersweet which I absolutely loved, it’s something that’ll stick with me for a while I think. Honestly I’m a little annoyed at myself for having waited so long to watch it, I’d go so far as to say it’s probably my favourite non Batman Nolan film, even the long run time doesn’t seem so bad as it whips along at a decent pace, and I actually don’t think there’d be a single thing I’d cut out to make it shorter.

I’ve semi enjoying this watching films I’ve not seen before, writing the blogs is definitely finding me some fun films that I probably should have watched far sooner than I did. It’s also mildly amusing to watch some truly shit films, I obviously regret it but it’s fun to be able to rip a film apart although it does mean having to sit through a load of bollocks to get to that point which is obviously less than ideal. Still I figure it’s a good excuse to make sure I’m trying to work in films that might be a little out of my comfort zone so there’s an element of risk there naturally.

Watching films – Fun to watch stuff I’ve not seen before (in most cases)

I’ve been working from home for at least 4 months at this point and not being able to really go out and see friends and do normal things has started to take a bit of a toll. I’ve been lucky that I’ve had computer games to play and books to read, as well as work letting me keep some structure to my days which has been a definite plus.

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That being said I’m starting to get a little bored so I thought I use the time to make the effort t watch some films I’ve had for a while and never gotten round to watching for whatever reason.  I thought I’d then write a little bit about what I thought each of them.

Isle of Dogs – This was not the film I was expecting at all, I thought as it used stop motion animation that it’d be a kids film which it very much isn’t. It’s definitely not that and actually much darker than I was expecting, which is somehow made darker by the animation choice and the fact that the human characters are largely not understandable and the overall fact that the dogs have essentially been exiled to a garbage dump. I did very much enjoy it though, it looks awesome, there’s some dark humour sprinkled in and there’s some really sweet story beats so I’d definitely recommend it as one to check out.

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Stuber – I remember seeing the trailer for this and wanting to see it as the chemistry between Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani looked to be very amusing. That much holds true but the film overall is a disappointingly generic buddy movie where the everything is largely very predictable and the twist can be seen a mile off. It has a cracking cast but wastes talent like Mira Sorvino, Karen Gillan and Iko Uwais which is a massive shame. It’s definitely watchable but realistically it’s probably a 5 or 6 out of 10 type film.

The Disaster Artist – Based on the story of the making of the film The Room, if even half of what’s in there is accurate then the real story is utterly mental. Directed by James Franco, who also stars as Tommy Wiseau, and co-starring Dave Franco as Greg Sestero it follows Gregs meeting go Tommy and them making the film together. It’s utterly ridiculous and weirdly compelling, it’s made better by the side by side comparison of scenes from this film and The Room so you can see how faithful they’ve tried to be.

The Dead Don’t Die – This was marketed as a horror/comedy starring Bill Murray and Adam Driver, and that was fundamentally enough to get me interested. It was largely a middle amusing distraction, played mostly straight with an appreciation of the ridiculousness of it all. That is up until the last 15 or 20 minutes where it takes an utterly mental change in direction that’s never actually touched on and therefore makes no sense what so ever, to the point where my initial reaction was to wonder what the hell had just happened. It’s definitely worth a watch but I’m genuinely not sure how I feel about the whole thing off the back of that ending segment.

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What If – A romantic comedy starring Daniel Radcliffe that I’d never previously heard of but picked up on the cheap. It follows the usual romcom story formula so no real surprises but it does boast some interesting characters which makes the whole thing much more enjoyable. Radcliffe particularly is engaging as the lead and Adam Driver is a lot of fun though somewhat under-utilised. My only real complaint is that there are a number of character relationships that could have been expanded upon or made deeper, such as that of Radcliffe’s character and his sister, that I think would have benefitted things. I did like that the ending didn’t tie things up in a neat little bow but on a hopeful note which is further hinted at in the credit. Overall it was a pleasant little surprise.

Bad Boys 2 – Jesus Christ this was fucking atrocious, I enjoyed the first film as it was at a point when Michael Bay was capable of restraint. This on the other hand has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the bollocks, the Bay trademark mass explosions and quick cuts are on full display backed up with slow mo that is wholly unnecessary. The villains are shit, the dialogue is total wank and the attempts at humour are largely cretinous. When not even Will Smith can make a film even halfway watchable you’ve got a serious problem, this is genuinely one of the worst films I’ve ever sat through and making myself endure it was an act of pure masochism, please for the love of all that’s holy don’t ever watch this shitshow.

True Romance – This is a film where I genuinely don’t know how I’ve never seen it before, especially given how often my mates quite it. You can tell from the ending it was written by Quentin Tarantino, an over the top shoot out where almost everyone dies. It’s a weirdly paced film, it feels like it started out as ideas for a few set pieces that were then stitched together into an entire film. Big name stars such as Gary Oldman aren’t in it as much as you’d expect and Christopher Walken is essentially in one scene, he’s superb in it naturally but then he just vanishes for the rest of the film which is a shame. Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette anchor the film with solid performances and I’d say overall I enjoyed it but it just felt a bit disjointed and oddly paced. Definitely worth watching if nothing else.

Zodiac – This was not the film I was expecting at all, obviously I knew going in that it was a film based on the Zodiac killer though didn’t know more than that so was expecting it to be a true crime film and while the first half is, the second half is more focussed on the obsession of one man to uncover the truth. Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr are all superb, Gyllenhaal in particular is excellent as Robert Graysmith whose book is what the film is based on. It’s a film that is never going to be truly satisfying given that the killer was never actually officially identified though the film end up pointing to the best suspect, though does also point to conflicting evidence there, it also drops some really tense moments in where you get a genuine sense of foreboding as to what’s going to happen next and this never feels cheap, it definitely adds to the story being told. It’s a genuinely fascinating film and it’s got me wanting to read the book it’s based on too.

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The Family Fang – The second film to be directed by Jason Bateman, he stars in this alongside Nicole Kidman and Christopher Walken. The core of the film is basically about the bond between a brother and sister, played by Bateman and Kidman and how they were raised by their parents who turned everything into a performance, which we get to see glimpses of with flashbacks. It’s understated and bittersweet in essence because of how it deals with the family bond and how parents can fuck you up a little bit. Bateman seems to be the kind of actor and director that’s seriously talented, he can do comedy and serious equally which is solid accomplishment. I’d also recommend checking his first film Bad Words which while having a little pathos running through it but is a straight up comedy definitely worth checking out.

The Godfather – I’ve some how never seen this despite being nagged about it for years so figured I’d give it a go. First impressions were that at just under 3 hours it’d be way too long and to be honest having now watched it I’d stand by that. Too be clear it’s a very good film, Al Pacino is excellent in it as are the rest of the cast. I’m glad I’ve now watched it and I’ll be getting to the sequels at some point but I have one main issue with it which is that it’s very much a slow burner which when coupled with the run time does make it drag a bit in places. It’s well made, aside from some slightly iffy blood effects which I appreciate is me literally just nit picking. I can’t say I was a huge fan overall but I think that’s more down to me not being a huge fan of the genre rather than there being anything wrong with the film itself. 

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This has been a solid plan so far in terms of finally watching stuff I’ve not gotten round to as yet, sure there’s been some disappointments so far but I’ve also found a couple of gems as well as finally being able to not take shit for not having seen some of these. And to be honest it’s been fun watching stuff that I might not ordinarily have bothered with otherwise as I’d have just kept putting them off indefinitely so this might be something I keep doing as time goes on, even if it’s just to allow me to right bits in small segments over a period of time rather than pressuring myself to do it all in one go.

Things coming in 2020 I’m excited about

With 2019 done and dusted it’s time to turn our attention to the incoming goodness that’s on the horizon for 2020. I thought I’d go into some of the things I’m looking forward to as it stands, obviously this could change as I see more of stuff and it starts looking shite or new stuff comes into the picture that I’ve forgotten about or wasn’t initially aware of.

TV shows

5 – Y: This is based on the comic series Y: The Last Man and while showing as being due to land in 2020 there is no air date currently so it’s entirely possible that it gets delayed or something. It gets the nod on the basis there’s a chance it arrives this year as I loved the comic and its tale of Yorick who is essentially the last man on earth after men essentially die out leaving women to pick up the pieces of the world and the human species.

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4 – Picard: This is an interesting proposition as it brings back Patrick Stewart 20 odd years after the end of Star Trek the Next Generation. It looks like it’s bringing back a fair few characters too and as Next Generation was the only Star Trek show I was ever especially familiar with it’ll be intriguing to see what the state of that world now is and where the story is going to take it. I’ve not really seen much on it barring a couple of trailers so I’m going in pretty blind which usually a good thing as it leads to plenty of surprises.

3 – The Falcon and the Winter Soldier: The first TV series for Disney + that fits into the MCU and I think it’ll be the first thing out that directly directly follows on from Avengers Endgame. It’ll be interesting to see how this pans out as Falcon was passed a pretty gigantic metaphoric torch in Endgame which you have to assume will be addressed and bringing back Zemo from Civil War as the main antagonist has potential too.

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2 – The Boys: Season 2 will likely hit Amazon Prime around the same sort of time as the first season did as an educated guess. The main questions for me as it stands are will it diverge from the comic book it’s based on significantly and will they attempt to make the season even more violent, which you think would be hard for a show that had a super character blown up with a bomb that had been shoved up his arse. However it pans out it should be suitable bloody and ridiculously entertaining.

1 – The Mandalorian: Once the announcement was made that season 2 would land late in 2020 that was always going to be the TV show I was most looking forward to. There are a couple of plot threads carried over from the first season but there are also questions about whether any familiar characters are going to show up at all now that the main character is a bit more established, given Dave Filoni’s involvement there’s always the possibility of animated characters could get brought in on some level which has the potential to be awesome.

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Movies

5 – Sonic the Hedgehog: Is it going to be an utter train wreck is probably the biggest question with regard to the Sonic film. It’s already been delayed to completely overhaul Sonic himself after everyone collectively lost their minds about his initial design. I was always a huge Sonic fan growing up so I want it to be good, plus he’s being voiced by Ben Schwartz who was Jean-Ralphio in Parks and Rec so I’m really hoping it winds up being good.

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4 – Bill and Ted Face the Music: It’s been 29 years since Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey was released so that’s quite a big gap between that and the third film. I know literally nothing about the plot synopsis and I honestly don’t need to. Bogus Journey was the first film I ever saw at the cinema so the new one is a must see on that basis, but it’s also coming at a point where Keanu is doing some of his best work so hopefully it’ll be great.

3 – Ghostbuster Afterlife: Speaking of third entries following years after the second, this is going to hit cinemas 31 years after Ghostbusters 2. It has the surviving original stars in it and is directed Jason Reitman who is the son of the original director. The first trailer doesn’t really show a whole lot but it’s the fact that it’s a true sequel has me excited, especially as it’s getting the original team back together. That being said I’m also interested to see how they pay tribute to Harold Ramis.

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2 – Coming to America 2:Just the 32 years between films for this sequel, it really feels like a bit of a theme with films coming out this year. Coming to America was Eddie Murphy at his absolute funniest, I think he also managed to play about 10 characters or something ridiculous. I’m hoping the new film can re-capture the magic of the original, I’m looking forward to seeing how things went for the characters in that time period and also whether McDowells became the fast food restaurant to go to with their signature burger – the Big Mick.

1 – Black Widow: It’s a Marvel film and it’s set at some point before the events of Infinity War and Endgame, though I’ve not seen any confirmation of when specifically it’s going to be set. It’s also got a decent cast as you’d expect, obviously Scarlett Johansson returning but you’ve also got people like David harbour and Rachel Weisz in there too. All in all it’s an intriguing prospect for a film and at this point with the MCU there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to be fun at the very least.

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Gaming

5 – New consoles: 2020 is the year we get the new Xbox and Playstation consoles. Not a huge amount is know, though more has been revealed about the Xbox so far. I’d assume there’s going to be a lot of games being announced over the course of the year, particularly at E3 this year assuming Sony actually attend this time. I’m currently leaning towards an Xbox as it stands predominantly because of Halo, though I’m reasonably sure I’ll end up with them both at some point.

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4 – Halo Infinite: Speaking of Halo this will likely be the first time I ever get a console on day one and it’ll largely be because of how much I want to play this. The early signs are that they’re going to try and adopt a back to basics approach, even down to the music which is obviously going to be awesome if executed well. `I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes as while Halo 5 was flawed it opened up a fair few narrative possibilities, it’ll also be interesting to see how the new Slipspace engine looks in game.

3 – Final Fantasy 7 Remake: The original PS1 release remains one of my favourite RPGs of all time so I’m naturally incredibly excited to play this remake. It’s been rebuilt from the ground up and looks like there’s going to be a more Kingdom Hearts style of combat rather than the turn based battles of the original, though apparently that option is available. It looks absolutely stunning, and from the bits of footage I’ve seen the music sounds like it’s going to be epic.

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2 – Animal Crossing New Horizons: I like Animal Crossing games, they’re just chilled out games where you get to do largely inconsequential stuff like fishing and making friends with the local animal villagers. Hopefully this iteration will offer even more things to do but frankly I’m very much looking forward to digging up fossils, catching bugs and fishing. It’s one of those charming games where it’s nice to just drop in for a quick go, dick around for a bit and then play something a bit more intense.

1 – Cyberpunk 2077: This a futuristic first person RPG from the company that made the Witcher 3 so it was always going to be pretty high on my list of games but then at E3 last year they revealed that Keanu was going to be in it and I was even more interested. It could wind up being utterly shite of course but there’s pedigree there with the Witcher games and it looks absolutely stunning, it has the potential to be the game of the year but we’ll have to see how it pans out.

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Assorted other things

4- Uncharted: I was going to add this into the movies section as it’s still showing as having a 2020 release as it stands but literally the day I started writing this they lost yet another director. On that basis I’d say it’s unlikely it’ll be out this year so it’s making this list just to see if it continues to be an utter train wreck that keeps losing directors, and you have to assume that Tom Holland is going to have to drop out at some point too if this continues.

3 – Wrestling: I’ve dipped in and out of wrestling over the years but my interest took a massive hit back in 2014 when CM Punk left the WWE. I’ve continued to follow it to a certain extent just to see what’s happening but I’ve not been tempted to watch really. That may change this year as CM Punk is working for a Fox show that covers the WWE so there’s now much more of a chance that he’ll make a comeback at some point which would immediately pique my curiosity.

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2 – E3: This could have gone in the gaming section but E3 has become a little bit more than that over the years. Obviously there’s the announcing of all the new games and such which is obviously superb or appalling depending on the announcements but it’s been more about the chatting shit with mates element that’s made it great the last few years. Be it all of us in person having a few drinks and chatting about what’s shown or doing it over a WhatsApp group it’s just become something of an annual ritual now.

1 – The return of Dick Grayson: Nightwing got shot in the head over a year ago in the Batman comics and has had amnesia, this has lead to Ric Grayson being a thing and him not being Nightwing either. This has largely been less than ideal as Ric isn’t very easy to like and it’s gone on too long really. That being said the writers have started to make this decision seem like a bigger deal rather than the shite holding pattern it’s felt like and apparently this year is when Dick Grayson and Nightwing return which is a huge deal for me.

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So yeah essentially that’s a selection of the things I’m looking forward to as the year goes on, I’ve almost certainly forgotten about stuff and there will no doubt be stuff that hasn’t even been on my radar that I’ll discover but this is a pretty solid starting point. As always I’m always interested to hear what other people are looking forward to as it might help me discover some of the things I’d not thought about.

 

My multimedia highlights of 2019

We’ve just about survived 2019 so I thought I’d do a little breakdown of my gaming, tv and film highlights of the year. I was going to to do a piece on the disappointments too but I figure I’d rather just focus on the positives. With that in mind lets get started.

TV shows

5 – Stranger Things: Season 2 was a bit of a slog in places so it was nice to see that season 3 was a better overall experience in my opinion. It tells a more interesting story and it’s better paced. Some of the characterisation suffers with certain characters but ultimately the summer setting was a great shout and it leaves enough questions hanging that season 4 is one I’m looking forward to quite a lot, whenever that lands. Also Hopper’s shirt is 100% on point.

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4 – The Witcher: A solid first season overall, based on the books rather than the games it’ll be interesting to see how this develops as more seasons are released but initial thoughts are it’s got great music and is visually impressive, and thankfully Henry Cavill makes for a pretty great Geralt which is always handy. It’s a little confusing in terms of time jumps but apparently that’s in line with the book and once you get your head round it it’s not too bad.

3 – Titans: Season 2 has it’s problems, the pacing is a little shonky and at times it doesn’t know what to do with all of it’s core cast but the season is a build up to Dick Grayson finally taking on the mantle of Nightwing which is a huge deal for me. It handles that aspect almost perfectly, the only issue I have is the change to where he gets the idea from but while it’s disappointing it does make sense as Titans has introduced Superman as it stands.

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2 – The Boys: Based on a Garth Ennis comic it’s every bit as insane as its source material. Essentially a corporation has created superheroes who are for the most part psychotic maniacs. It’s bloody and violent and has a suitably dark sense of humour throughout and everyone is clearly having a blast. The positive buzz around it was such that it got a second season order before the first season had even aired, and it has to be said it’s wound up being great news.

1 – The Mandalorian: Set after Return of the Jedi this is one of the most visually stunning TV shows I’ve ever seen. It’s clearly had a lot of money thrown at it and thankfully it would seem to be worth it. It borrows heavily from the old school samurai and western films but it turns out to be a lot of fun within the Star Wars universe. The reveal at the end of the first episode is also pretty great and amazing that they managed it, if the internet hasn’t already spoiled it for you then I won’t.

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Movies

5 – Le Mans 66: This is what Ford vs Ferrari was renamed as over here for some reason. The film is fascinating as it tells the story of Ford taking on Ferrari at Le Mans after taking umbrage at the way they were played during takeover talks. The driving sequences are excellent and the film features typically good performances from both Christian Bale and Matt Damon. It’s one of those stories I knew a little about but learning more about it was incredibly interesting.

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4 – Spiderman Far from Home: I loved the first MCU Spiderman film and this one is no exception. It acts as a nice little bookend to Endgame with the world coming to terms with the events of that films. Tom Holland’s version of the hero is in my opinion the best live action version to date and this film is just a lot of fun. Excellent performances all round and one of the best credit scenes to date which sets up the third film delightfully.

3 – Knives Out: This is Rian Johnson’s first film since the divisive Last Jedi (which for the record I liked) and it’s done pretty well critically as far as I can tell. A great cast putting in great performances and some really snarky dialogue make for a lot of fun. It also helps that it’s a decent murder mystery that keeps you guessing til the end, I thought I had it figured out a fair few times and still managed to get it wrong.

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2 – John Wick 3: The third entry in the series actually does something impressive and manages to improve on the second film, it gets the balance between the action and the plot much better. Keanu continues to impress in these films and hopefully they’ll continue to be as entering as this is and also expand on John’s back story gradually too. It’s also worth seeing for just how appalling Jerome Flynn’s accent is, I think it’s meant to be Italian but I’m honestly not 100% sure.

1 – Alita Battle Angel: I was always interested in seeing this from the first trailer, it was always going to be interesting from a visual standpoint, it just turned out that I really enjoyed the whole film overall. I think it condenses a lot of stuff from the manga books down and it ends on a cliffhanger that makes a sequel a must (but no idea if that’ll happen) but it’s my favourite film of the year and I’d definitely recommend it as one well worth watching.

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Gaming

5 – Shenmue 3: Released 18 years after number 2 came out on the Dreamcast, it’s far from perfect, the English voice acting somehow manages to be worse that what came before and it’s very much a product of that timeframe, being a bit clunky like the original games were. It looks nice and all that but it makes this list purely because it’s a game I thought would never ever be released, plus it’s not the train wreck other games that were in development for ages turned out to be, Colonial Marines I’m looking at you.

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4 – Resident Evil 2: This is how remakes should be done, rather than just an re-skin using higher definition textures on the same 20 odd year old game Capcom have rebuilt the game from the ground up, It’s visually stunning and the engine they run the game on allows for much scarier moments and shows that there’s still loads they can do with the franchise overall, It’ll be interesting to see if the Resident Evil 3 remake will be as impressive.

3 – Afterparty: One of those games where the pitch hooks you straight away, you’re trying to escape Hell but beating Satan at a drinking game. Turns out it wound up being a really fun game, the dialogue is funny and the setting is suitably odd and it all just clicks. There’s also a surprisingly sweet element to it as the 2 protagonists are forced to confront some truths about each other along the way.

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2 – Star Wars Fallen Order: To be clear there are elements I dislike such as the constant back and forth between planets, and things I despise such as the sliding portions of the game which are atrocious. That said there’s a lot to love, aesthetically it’s hugely impressive, the story is interesting and the the characters are well realised. Most importantly thought it plays decently and is just an all round decent Star Wars game.

1 – Nintendo: I couldn’t pick just one game as I’ve enjoyed Yoshi, Links Awakening and Pokemon and that’s just the games I’ve personally played. You also have things like new Luigi’s Mansion and Fire Emblem games amongst others so it’s been strong year overall for Nintendo. The regular Nintendo Directs throughout the year also point towards there being a lot more to come on the Switch so 2020 could be as good all being well.

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Obviously all of the above is just my highlights so are absolutely my opinion. I personally love to hear what other people have down as their plus points for the year as it generally leads me to some nice surprises that I wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise considered.

Some of my favourite moments from films

It’s been covered extensively on here that I like films quite alot, well I’ve watched a couple of films late where there have been sequences that I’ve particularly enjoyed. With that in mind I thought it’d be cool to write about a few of the sequences in films I’ve particularly enjoyed. Bear in mind that I’m not saying anything as divisive as them being the best, merely a personal opinion. There’s obviously going to be some spoilers in here too so fair warning, though I’ll try and keep more recent films for later on.

Any Given Sunday – There are films out there where Al Pacino overacts ever slightly, but for me in this film he gives one of his finest performances as a burnt out American football coach having issues with the owners of the team he manages and with the players under him. The speech he gives towards the end of the film to his team is something to behold as he tries to rally his players for one last push. It’s heartfelt and raw which makes it incredibly powerful as Pacino absolutely nails the delivery and is absolutely captivating. It was a shock that I’d enjoy a film about American football much less that there’d be a moment so amazing in there that it’d contribute to becoming a film I love to come back to.

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Man of Steel – The sequence where Clark first interacts with his real father and learns to fly is one of the best sequences in the film. Jor-El’s speech is pretty much lifted from All Star Superman and there’s a nice reference to one of my favourite Superman comics (Birthright) where he’s flying amongst wildlife, presumably in Africa. Hans Zimmer’s score is the perfect accompaniment and there’s a genuine sense of joy throughout which isn’t all that prevalent throughout the rest of the film. It’s basically a hint that Snyder could produce a Superman film that balances out a more light hearted tone with the character work that’s displayed with Clark’s growth and acceptance of who he is.

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Evil Dead 2 – Bruce Campbell is pretty gifted when it comes to physical comedy, which is just as well as Sam Raimi seems to make the most of it. The sequence where Campbell’s character Ash has his hand possessed is genuinely very funny. What makes it so entertaining is how ridiculous it is and Campbell’s commitment to how over the top it is, there sheer number of things he hits himself with or smacks himself into is impressive as is the forward flip. I’m also a fan of the part where the hand drags the unconscious Ash towards a meat cleaver which leads into Ash cutting his own hand off with a chainsaw in a shower of blood. It just emphasises the tonal difference for the sequel in comparison to the first film in the series.

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Bladerunner – I love the entire film but the sequence towards the end where Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty pursues Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard through a ruined building to the roof to seemingly gain revenge is excellent, as it’s tense and the culmination is unexpectedly touching. You think Batty will ultimately kill Deckhard but the android, who is nearing the end of his set lifespan, instead saves Deckhard from falling from the roof. The implication is that his limited lifespan has made him appreciate all life, this action is then followed by the delivery of the tears in rain speech, which is amazing and was apparently ad-libbed by Hauer, just before he dies, it’s an especially memorable moment in an already memorable film.

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Terminator 3 – I had a whole Terminator 2 piece here before I deleted it as I remembered the ending to Terminator 3 which is pretty awesome, particularly given the averageness of the rest of the film. While trying to stop Skynet coming online it becomes apparent that the Terminator has instead got John Connor to a fallout shelter as Judgement Day, while delayed, is inevitable. Connor then takes the first tentative steps to being the leader the previous films state he’s defined to be while the nuclear missiles begin to rain down on the world. It’s a bold decision to go with an ending that bleak and for me it’s possibly the strongest ending to any of the Terminator films as it’s an evocative image of what is essentially the end of the world. It’s just a shame it’s not attached to a better film really. 

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Jurassic Park – A bit of context for this one, I love dinosaurs and have since I was a kid so when this first came out 11 year old me was super excited as there had been enough adverts to know the basics of the film going in. The scene where the people brought to the island see the Brachiosaurus for the time and react in utter shock and awe was absolutely mind blowing to me. It looked so convincing and real that my reaction was more or less the same, and it doesn’t how many times I’ve seen it over the years (and trust me I’ve watched it a lot) I get goosebumps every single time. There are a lot of bits in the film that evoke a similar reaction from me but nothing on the level of that initial reveal.

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Robocop – This was the first really violent film I ever saw as a kid, I definitely wouldn’t have been allowed to see it had my parents been aware which made it that much more appealing to watch. There’s a couple of contenders for this list such as the raid on the drug factory but I’ve gone for the murder of Alex Murphy as it’s really the standout moment in the film due to the sheer brutality of the sequence and obviously what it subsequently leads to. The scene where Clarence Boddicker shoots his hand off is unpleasant and the subsequent shooting to death where Murphy loses an arm is equally nasty and in a way seems to be excessively gory and needlessly violent but it sets the tone for the rest of the film which while full of violence also manages to offer satire of the culture of the time and a pretty compelling tale of a someone trying to reconcile between the machine he’s become and the man that’s still there – it’s essentially Paul Verhoeven at his absolute best.

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Star Wars: Rogue One – This was originally going to be the hyperspace jump ship missile from the Last Jedi but then I remembered something far more awesome from the Star Wars films. That would the sequence in Rogue One where Darth Vader massacres a corridor full of rebel soldiers. It’s probably the only real glimpse we’ve had of a post Anakin Skywalker Vader at the peak of his powers as he’s obviously a lot less mobile in the films that follow chronologically. It’s a brutal sequence that starts with the famous breathing sound before you even see him followed by Vader carving through everyone in his path and showing how ruthless and overpowered he is in comparison to the rebel grunts, and it’s also cool seeing him using force powers in tandem with his lightsaber while the rebels attempt to flee in terror, it also doesn’t hurt that it basically leads into the start of episode 4 in a flawed but cool way.

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Bumblebee – We’ve had 5 Transformer films from Michael Bay that were at best average and at worst travesties and all it too from Bumblebee was the opening 5 or so minutes to erase all that by actually showing the war on Cybertron. It looks amazing and features loads of Transformers that are actually recognisable from the cartoon and toys, both Decepticons and Autobots. It’s basically everything I ever wanted from a Transformers film – giant robots kicking the hell out of each other, visually stunning, non crap looking Transformers and Optimus Prime both looking like he should and being a bad ass. Essentially this one sequence makes me want to see a prequel set completely on Cybertron and also sequels that ignore the Bay films entirely.

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Avengers: Endgame – I’ve left this one til last as it’s the most recent film and obviously the one people are most likely to not want spoiled for them, it’s also the main reason I wanted to right this piece in the first place so this is your last warning before I spoil some parts of the film. The portal sequence is for me possibly the most awesome sequence in the whole of the MCU, coming at a point where Thanos appears poised to win you here Sam say something to Captain America that’s a nice call back to the Winter Soldier followed by dozens of portals appearing. Out of these portals emerge all the heroes that had been killed in Infinity War when Thanos used the infinity stones. This is all backed up by an amazing score and ends with Cap ordering the Avengers to assemble and leading the charge against Thanos. It gives me goosebumps every time I see it, the film as a whole is flawed but this one sequence is as close to perfection as I’ve seen in my opinion as it’s essentially the culmination of the entire MCU up to this point, bringing pretty much every hero that’s still in play together

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Those are some of my favourite film sequences, as I say I’m in no way saying they’re the best by any means so if you don’t agree with me then that’s fair comment but feel free to share the sequences from films that you love as I’d be generally interested as I’m sure stuff will get mentioned which will instantly make me wish I’d added it to this list which is what always seems to happen with these things. That’s the awesome thing about this kind of discussion, everyone has their own favourite moments from films and it’s always a fun thing to discuss.