Spider-Man: Homecoming


Viewed – 05 December 2017  Online-rental

Of all the super-heroes, ol’ Spidy has had some trouble finding sure footing in recent years and for me, there hasn’t been a decent Spidy movie since the second Toby Maguire entry.  However after an enjoyable (if unnecessary) cameo in Captain America: Civil War, the web-slinger has returned in probably one his best received movies since the Sam Raimi directed original. 

film-spiderman-review-adv07-e4a111b6-618f-11e7-a4f7-af34fc1.jpg

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is under the watchful eye of billionaire Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) aka Iron-Man and so wants to be an official part of The Avengers, not just someone you call on when you’re in a bit of a fix.  So he’s out to prove himself after he witnesses some advanced, out of this world (literally) weapon technology being used by petty thugs.  Turns out there’s a ruthless arms dealer in town who dresses like a robotic vulture.

There’s several things that don’t sit right with me here.  Firstly the constant bumbling, representation of such a beloved character grates after a while, and then his characterisation, without an origin tale or any personal tragedy, is wafer-thin and not something to get all-that caught up in.  Same goes for Michael Keaton’s Vulture, a rather pathetic former salvage worker annoyed by being put out of work by Tony Stark’s bank-rolled clean-up crew following the events of the first Avengers movie, who decides to steal alien technology so to become an arms dealer.  There’s no personal tragedy other than the inconvenience of having to find work elsewhere, and therefore little reason behind what he’s doing other than greed and being a bit of a psychopath.  So what else do we get?  Holland is likeable and well cast as Parker/Spidy, and Keaton is also good despite limited material.  We also get some decent action, including a great sequence at the Washington Monument, and some support characters are fun.  Yet overall this greatly lacks depth and feels like a pilot for a TV show or the opening chapter of a bigger, better story.  I’m guessing that’s the idea … so bring on the inevitable, superior sequel!  After two reboots of ‘meh’ quality however, it’d take something special to get me back on-board.

Verdict:  2.5 /5

Advertisements

Your Name


Viewed – 23 November 2017  Blu-ray

I love animation.  I love all types of animation.  I have a particular soft spot however for Japanese animation, often named ‘anime’.  This highly acclaimed and box-office record breaking (in Japan) drama however arrived with some anticipation.  It tells the story of two teenagers who find their lives inexplicably connected when they swap bodies seemingly at random, and try to figure out why it’s happening and is the arrival of a passing comet something to do with it all?

Your Name

This beautifully animated and eye-catching movie was a little hard to get into at first and I did wonder initially what all the fuss was about, beyond the visuals.  It’s a body-swap drama but told in such a way it’s not all that clear what’s going on.  However it’s a story that unravels gradually all leading to a ‘Oooh’ moment when the various pieces fall into place that turns everything on it’s head.  The two central characters; Japanese school kid ‘Taki’ and suburban school kid ‘Mitsuha’ are well rounded and interesting, funny and complex.  The surrounding characters are also are a lot of fun.  The attention to detail as often is the case with Japanese animation explores Japanese traditions, way of life and little quirks I found endlessly fascinating especially as an outsider to the culture. 

Director Makoto Shinkai‘s movie also throws in several goose-bump emotional moments that really pack a punch and once a certain story element reveals itself and it head into a powerful conclusion, I was left very impressed.  Granted, it takes some unnecessarily complex turns to get there, but where it goes is well worth the journey.  Recommended.

Verdict:  4 /5

The Babysitter


Viewed – 09 November 2017  Netflix

Netflix have been going from strength to strength of late, what with hit Netflix original programming like Stranger Things and then the occasional Netflix original movies … it seems to be a great time to be a Netflix subscriber.  One such movie that caught my eye was this little tongue-in-cheek horror.  It tells the tale of Cole, a stereotypical nerdy loner kid in suburban American who is bullied at school and a bit of a mommies’ boy.  Thing is too despite not being that young, Cole still has a babysitter – helps then that she’s super-hot.  Step in Margot Robbie look-a-like Bee (Samara Weaving) who is not only the kid’s best friend but also keeps a watchful eye over him and helps fend off bullies.  When the girl across the road however points out she thinks said Bee is probably inviting ‘boys’ around once the kid is tucked off to bed .. the kid decides to find out if it’s true – and is in for the shock of his life.

The-Babysitter

Directed by McG this has the same heightened reality, comic-book feel he brought to the two Charlie’s Angels movies, and there his epileptic style with wacky editing and mad-cap characters suited such a venture.  However here it feels for the most part over the top.  Told primarily through Cole’s eyes it makes sense from a kinds point of view but for what turns into a gory horror comedy, it creates a rather silly vibe that although fun makes it pretty throwaway too.  The characters you see, are not all that engaging and it all gets very predictable.  That being said the gore is at times spit your pop-corn out surprising and inventive, there’s some fun pop-culture references and social media obsession digs, and at least does kind of turn into Home Alone meets Buffy The Vampire Slayer (at least tonally). 

For 90 minutes entertainment, this doesn’t out stay it’s welcome, has some good jokes and plenty of the red stuff, and performances are adequate, and sometimes that’s good enough.  Unlikely to become a genre classic though.

Verdict:  3 /5

The Thing


Viewed – 24 October 2017  Blu-ray

Growing up I must have seen this movie on TV several times, and always marvelled not only at the atmosphere and setting, but those incredible creature effects by makeup artist Rob Bottin.  Over the years CGI has taken over considerably, the recent ‘prequel’ being a noteworthy example of CGI not able to replace decent practical effects, and so despite this being over thirty years old, how does it hold up compared to today’s offerings?

The Thing-Kurt-Russell

Kurt Russell leads a cast of characters which bare at least thematically a resemblance to the crew of Alien’s Nostromo.  These guys, working at a remote research facility in the Antarctic are not marines, but simple blue-collar workers, not unlike what you’d find of an oil rig … who are about to get an unexpected and unwelcome visitor.  Director John Carpenter took inspiration from 50s b-movie The Thing From Outer Space, but brings his own personality and considerable directing chops to deliver probably one of the stand out horror movies of the 80’s.  Colourful characters bring a realism to the movie that works well and the cast all do a fine job with Russell proving a great lead.  The setting is also claustrophobic and well filmed; combining a mix of traditional cinematography with hand-held camera work.  Once the ‘thing’ starts imitating various characters, tension ramps up and it became pretty disturbing and scary, especially with how the characters convey their paranoia and fear for those they once called friends.  However the star of the show is the creature itself and it’s transformations and gory appearances are stuff of cinematic legend by now – and all these years later still impress.  The scenes with tentacles, spiders legs and all sorts of other things still sent shivers my way.  Yet Carpenter sensibly chose to make this as much a character piece as a creature feature and for that reason it excels.Thing Arrow VideoArrow Video once again deliver a stunning package with the movie’s latest treatment on Blu-ray, improving immeasurably over the previous Universal release which suffered from lip-sync problems.  Here we get a 4K restoration boasting a clean, detailed image free of dust or damage and in fine shape, even if it’s not the most vibrant movie you’ll see.  All those gory details certainly get showcased however.  Add to this a choice of original 2.0 Stereo, 4.1 and also DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio, and along with Ennio Morricone’s ominous score and clear dialogue – this is impressive stuff.  Now as usual Arrow don’t shirk on the special features and here we get two audio commentaries; firstly an archive Kurt Russell & John Carpenter one which feels like two old time buddies watching a movie together, complete with laugh-out-loud reactions to certain scenes.  The other is a commentary by a trio of podcasters that’s well worth a listen for endless titbits and geeky knowledge.  We also get several featurettes, some archive, some new that are well worth dipping into if you’re a fan (and let’s admit it, if you’re reading this you already are).  The Blu-ray limited edition I picked up also comes with a fold out poster, art cards and a detailed booklet as well as fancy slip case packaging.  Which makes this edition essential.

Verdict:

(the movie)  5 /5

(the Blu-ray)  5 /5

Blade Runner 2049


Viewed – 25 Ocotber 2017  Cinema

I went into this fairly hyped.  It’s been well received for such a long awaited sequel that probably nobody was really waiting for, yet I also had slight apprehension due to the fact of not being the biggest fan of the original.  That movie whilst aesthetically impressive (more so for the time) and having some interesting moments and a solid turn from Harrison Ford, was ultimately rather empty and simple, lacking much of the depth or grit I’d been lead to believe.  So how does this sequel hold up?

Blade-Runner-2049

Ryan Gosling plays a Blade Runner who from the off you’re aware is also a replicant (an artificially engineered imitation-human), hunting and putting out of commission rogue replicants who have gone off the radar.  Yet on one such mission he stumbles upon a grave of a female replicant who seems to have died in child birth – something nobody imagined a replicant was even capable of doing; conceiving a child.  So the hunt for the missing child and answers to Golsing’s own past is set in motion.

Like the 1982 Ridley Scott original, this has a foreboding, dystopian future that is partly awe-inspiring and depressing.  It’s a dark, moody vision of Los Angeles full of clouds, smoke, neon billboards and miserable people.  Unlike Scott’s vision however this seems intentionally filmed with no real wow-factor, and with admittedly gargantuan set design and vast cityscapes appearing rather bland looking.  This look is raised up a notch by some iconic looking, sci-fi imagery not out of place on a book cover or in the pages of a graphic novel, even if much of said imagery seems put there for the sake of it.  Gosling is good and his journey of self-discovery is interesting (aided by a hologram girlfriend).  Also where the movie eventually goes is clever, with how it ties into the original really well done.  Add to this a late-to-the-party Harrison Ford pretty much stealing the show in a surprisingly layered performance, and on paper the ingredients are here to make a great movie.  Sad then that the pace is so damn plodding, with almost every scene stretched out for maximum run time with long pauses between portions of dialogue, lingering looks between characters etc.  Keeping myself entertained with this was a massive struggle.  If some scenes had just been tightened up we’d have a 2hr movie rather than one approaching 3hrs, and somewhat underwhelming visuals aside, such a languishing pace is ultimately what lets the movie down.

If you’re a big fan of the original, you may still get something out of this.  However if you want a movie that will keep you gripped throughout, this isn’t for you.

Verdict:  3 /5